Do you remember your first sleepover? Were you basking in the feeling of utter independence or counting down the minutes you would be reunited with Mom and Dad? For many parents, determining the appropriate age that a child might be ready to stay a night away from home is most daunting and a little scary! Every child is different and only parents know what the appropriate age should be.
As a mom of four children who are totally different, I truly think you need to make the decision based on the child. My oldest daughter, Bella is somewhat anxiety-ridden and does much better in small groups, however she requested a slumber party for her 7th birthday. Although I was a bit apprehensive, I thought we would give it a try since she would be in the comfort of her own home. She had 7 girls spend the night, in addition to her three sisters, a fairly large group of screaming mimis! Half way through the evening she was a bit overwhelmed by the over-zealous, sugar-induced excitement. She was able to take a break and eventually re-engage in the fun, but it was noted that moving forward she was definitely going to be a one-on-one sleepover kind of gal!
The childhood tradition of sleepovers can be a scary step to take for both kids and parents alike. Determining when they are ready can be tough. Here are some things to consider while making this important and exciting decision for the first time.
My children have been staying the night at their grandparents since they were babies. Perhaps you can offer a trial run at a cousin or grandparent’s house if they haven’t stayed overnight before and make the transition from there.
Is your child fully potty trained? You will need to take this into consideration and plan accordingly. Of course communicating with the other parent is a must. Does your child wear a pull-up? Can’t drink liquids before bed? Is it imperative they hit the bathroom right before they fall asleep? Be sure to offer instructions.
The Bedtime Routine
Set expectations regarding the bedtime routine? If your child is used to a certain routine, be sure you explain to them beforehand that it may be different at their friend’s home. Are they early risers or late-night owls? Do they have a blanket or lovey that they sleep with? Be sure to pack it with them in case they need it for added security.
Able to take care of themselves?
Is your child able to dress themselves, brush their teeth, put on their PJs and verbalize their needs? Although age is a consideration, your child needs to be able to act independently without your assistance.
Know the Family
How well do you know the host family? It’s probably not a good idea to send your child off to their first sleepover with a family you do not know well. Do you socialize with the family? Is your child comfortable with the parents? Do they know the rules of the home? Make sure they have had a few playdates (or more) before you embark on a sleepover.