Once the kids are in bed or I get a few moments alone, I find myself scrolling through Facebook. Usually I find a video and then I watch the next one and the next one. But one that caught my eye was from an episode of Super Nanny. It was about a 9 year old girl who had never had a sleepover even though her friends were always inviting her over. It seemed to be her father who was completely opposed to the idea of his daughter sleeping over at someone else’s home.
Super Nanny was in shock at this revelation. Saying she’s 9 years old she needs to have fun, and that the parents needed to trust her. I was quite surprised at her reaction to this situation. Maybe because when my sister and I were growing up we were never allowed to have sleepovers. We weren’t allowed to go on school trips either that required a night away. Maybe this was due to money and the trips being expensive, but at the time I felt hard done by and in a way slightly embarrassed. All of my friends were allowed to go and it didn’t seem fair that we weren’t. It made me look uncool in front of my friends, they’d laugh at how strict our parents seemed to be.
When I look back now, especially now that I have my own children. I do feel that we definitely missed out on a lot of life experiences and the things that our friends were doing. The only place we did sleep over was at my nan’s house, and that was when my parents went on holiday. I couldn’t imagine if I was growing up in this day and age. With social media and the news we hear a lot more about all the bad things going on in the world. Maybe my parents would keep us in, home school us and wrap us in bubble wrap. Okay a bit extreme maybe, I know they wouldn’t’ go that far.
I guess I hadn’t really thought of sleep overs as an issue, maybe this is because we never had them. When an advert popped up for princess tepee sleepovers in your own home, I just thought oh wow how amazing does that look. My daughter would love that for her birthday. The image was of pretty tepees with fairy lights, and cushions and little tables with popcorn and nail varnish on. I quickly messaged them for availability and then sent my daughters best friends mums a message to ask if their daughters would be able to attend a sleep over at our home for my daughter’s 7th birthday.
Are we being over protective?
Maybe it depends on how close a friend they have or how well you know and get along with their friends parents but I genuinely didn’t think anyone would really have a problem with sleepovers. Therefore when I saw some of the comments on the Super Nanny video I was genuinely shocked and surprised. Are we meant to keep our children from having fun by preventing them from doing anything without us? We have to have trust, and okay I know that may be hard especially with primary school children but we can’t stop them having fun because of our own insecurities. I always remember the saying you have to let them make their own mistakes for them to learn from, don’t go on what mistakes you made when you were growing up.
Comments included one lady actually saying that sleepovers should be made illegal! Others said their issues weren’t with their child but with the adults they’d be putting their trust in to keep an eye on their children.
I can see good points from both sides of this discussion. My personal opinion is that children should be allowed to have sleepovers so long as;
- You know the parents really well
- Your child actually wants to go and you feel they’re ready
- You trust the parents to call you at any time if any issues arise
- You know they will be supervised at all times (even having a baby monitor to listen in would work so you don’t cramp there style by hanging around)
Tips for sleepovers;
- Talk with the parents, get their opinion and discuss any concerns
- Explain about manners in someone else’s home and respecting others belongings
- Keep things simple; activities, film and food. Nothing that could overwhelm.
- Lay ground rules; areas off limits, no jumping on sofas etc
- Obtain contact details for every child’s parents
- Allow your child to help pack their bag it may be of comfort for them to choose their favourite toy to bring
- Supervise but don’t interfere, let them have fun
- Organise friends to come over later in the afternoon
- Let them know when it is time to sleep and dim the lights, consider staying in the same room as them until they’re settled
- Make parents aware of what time they will need to pick their children up
I asked fellow mum bloggers for their opinions and most seemed to agree;
Kate who blogs at Counting To Ten says ‘My 7 year old is constantly asking for them. She’s stayed round a friends house once last year for practical reasons. They didn’t get much sleep. Even in secondary school we didn’t sleep at sleepovers. I think it depends on how confident they are being away from home and how easily they will catch up on sleep.’
Maria from Suburban Mum says ‘My eldest went on his first sleepover when he was 6 almost 7 and it was a little earlier than I had anticipated. However, it was fine, I just made sure he caught up on the sleep the night after!’
Victoria from Lylia Rose says ‘My daughter is 6 and for her 6th birthday we had two of her cousins for a sleepover. I feel comfortable doing this at the moment with family members. She keeps asking for a couple of school friends to sleepover, but we’ll wait until she’s older to do this, such as in top juniors. I used to go for sleepovers as a child, but I only remember doing it with friends once I was in senior school, otherwise it was only with family when younger.’
Terri, blogger at The Strawberry Fountain says ‘My son had his first sleepover for his 7th birthday and my 6 year old keeps reminding me that he will have his for his 7th birthday too. They all had lots of fun but not much sleep. My advice would be to arrange for a post breakfast pick up of about 9.30 – 10 because by then you will have had enough and the kids will be so tired that they might start arguing and falling out so send them home happy but tired instead.
Erin from Yorkshire Tots says ‘We’re not ready for a sleepover so we’re going to have a sleepunder soon. The kids are going to have friends, change into pjs, watch film under a tent in sleeping bags and then their parents will pick them up late (like 9pm). The kids are really excited and it seems so much less daunting than the real thing!’
Rachel who blogs at Coffee Cake Kids says ‘My eldest started having them at 7 with their very best friend . I don’t think younger than that.’
Amy at Living The Harmon Life says ‘I always felt hard done by as a child/teen as I was never allowed to go on sleepovers, all my friends were having them but my parents wouldn’t let me. Now as a parent myself I completely understand where they were coming from and will find it very difficult to let my children go on a sleepover.’
Samantha, blogger at Stressed Mum says ‘My daughter was about 7 when she had her first one at her best friends house. I felt more sorry for her friends Mum but the girls had a great time.’
Tracey from One Frazzled Mum says ‘My daughter started having sleepovers around 7 and I had her friends over on a one on one basis. In hindsight I think it was the right time for her to sleep out but not her friends. I never had any major issues with her staying out (but as a single parent we werw both used to her sleeping out regularly at her dads) just some girls not being able to sleep at our house and wanting to go home. Last yeat she had 8 friends over for her 12th birthday and that was a whole load of craziness with not a lot of sleep for anyone!’
Beth at Twinderelmo says ‘My son had three friends to sleep for his 10th birthday. It was the first time we’d had friends to stay over so went HARD by having three other kids. I had all the other parents numbers but they were all really well behaved. I think it’s a good age as they were all happy to be away from their parents and I figured it’s one night where we all get no sleep but surprisingly we all did!’
Ashleigh who blogs at 3 Girls Mummy says ‘My daughter will be 6 next month and we’ve never had a sleepover. Not even with cousins.
It throws routine out of the window. I feel it’s also unhygienic with children sleeping in the same bed (I don’t have a spare bed) and no one ever gets any sleep (parents included!) so the day after would be like hell with a newborn and 2 other toddlers!’
Josie at Business For Mums says ‘I’m really not keen to start the sleepover thing. My 8 year olds best friend’s Mum keeps suggesting he go and stay over at their house (and has been suggesting it since they were about 6!) but I keep avoiding it because I’d have to do a return sleepover at my house and I can’t cope with the thought of dealing with someone else’s child overnight!’
What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts.