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Every time my kids get approached for a sleepover invite I already know their answers. I know them not because I drilled them to answer in a specific way but because I know deep inside why they will give that specific answer. My kids don’t like to go to sleepovers and neither did I when I was a child. In fact, it stressed me out. To the point where I actually got sick and my parents had to pick me up in the middle of the night.

I tried. I gave it a shot. Over and over again. On one side because I loved my friends and the idea of spending so much time with them seemed a great one. On the other side because I realized that I became “that one”. The one who didn’t wanted to sleepover. The one that was a baby. The one who couldn’t cope with not being around her parents. I felt the pressure.

And I feel the pressure again today. Or maybe better: I felt the pressure again over the last couple of years. Not so much now anymore.

I wonder: What is it with sleepovers. Why do people push so hard to get kids to come sleepover at theirs, or send their kids away to do sleepovers somewhere else? I remember my neighbor mentioning a couple of years ago that all her kids spent the night at sleepovers at different houses. And that included her back then 3 year old…

You know, it’s fine if a child really wants to head out and sleep somewhere else. But I’m definitely the one mother that never did and will never push the kids into it. The main reason of course is because I know how bad it can make you feel if you really want to stay over night but then so desperately want to go home and sleep in your room, in your bed, in your surroundings. I know how awful you feel for even having that thought and how difficult it is to then let people know that you actually want to go home.

And then there is the other aspect to it. First of all, my kids would NEVER sleep over at someone’s place I don’t know and have not met the rest of the family. Never. And it blows my mind to see how easy going people are in regards to this. Bottom line is (and it might make me look like a total nut-head) that you hand your child over to someone and leave it there for the night. For a time they are vulnerable. If you know the parents well then you will know if their approach to their kids is a similar one to yours in regards to looking after them when upset or sick or wild. You know the rules they have. That definitely helps. But you don’t know basic things like this in when they people inviting your children are strangers to you.

So how can I trust that my kids will be safe? How can I trust that they will really look after them if I don’t know them at all? How can I be sure that they don’t touch them, watch them? And yes, the thought might be a bit far fetched but did you look at statistics in regards to child abuse? Did you see how big the number is for people who are actually in your closer network? I wonder why people let their kids sleepover at a house where they have only briefly met the nanny or the mom at school drop off or pick up.

I’m not saying everyone is a perv but I know that older siblings can have a tendency to watch other kids or scare them. I’m not saying that parents might do something to my child but they can have a bad night and it might end up in a argument that might leave its mark behind on my child. When you are not in your home you feel more vulnerable. Especially at night. We all heard stories from sleepovers that went wrong. And I simply believe there is no need for them. It’s not like math that kids need to learn.

Call me crazy! That’s fine, I take it. I’m not locking my kids up. I agree with you if you think I’m overthinking here. And maybe if my kids would desperately want to head out for a sleepover I would push all those thoughts away and trust that all will be good. But I will definitely not push them into something we all feel so uncomfortable with.

Of course I can’t say to people that they potentially might be some kind of perverts. I trust most people, especially friends. But just because I believe in the good in people doesn’t mean I have to take risks. There are maybe two families that I would happily leave my kids with outside of a normal play date. They are like family to us and I trust them with all my life. So the thought of letting my kids stay with strangers though makes me shiver. Especially when they ask if my kid wants to sleepover before I have even met the rest of the family…

The funny thing is that parents react almost offended when you say no thank you to a sleepover party. My children don’t really want to stay for the night and I’m okay with that. I’m happy to pick them up no matter how late so they can have all the fun and I’m happy to drop them back over at 6am so they don’t miss out on more fun, if that is really what they want. It doesn’t make my kids weird. It’s not a case of locking them up at home or isolating them. It’s a case of listening to them and appreciating what they want to do.

Crazy how you feel like explaining yourself for a simple thing like saying now for your child to sleep at someone else’s house…

While I think sleepovers should actually be renamed into “be-awake-all-nights” I have no problem for kids to stay over in our house if they really want to. My kids had friends over and as probably many of you also have experienced: They don’t sleep much on occasions like that. They watch TV and potentially watch stuff they are not supposed to watch normally but hey, it’s a special occasion so why not. It seems to be an unwritten rule so while I try to keep control over it I realize that they expect something special. They eat rubbish and they behave as if they are years older than they are. So the next day you most likely deal with cranky children, with new words they picked up and with some sort of attitude they think it’s cool to have suddenly. You deal with the aftermath. While it all might sound a bit extreme it is what happens, right? Somehow you will manage to get them to hopefully sleep before midnight and while you hope they might make it to a normal hour you can be sure that they will be up so early that it’s not even funny. No wonder they eventually get cranky…

I’m all for having fun, especially if it’s fun for everyone involved. Personally the best sleepover kids can have with the most fun involved is when you go away together with friends. Camping or just somewhere where you can share an accommodation of some sort. If you stay in the same place together the kids spend all the time together. You all do stuff together. Parents are responsible for their kids and if they have too much sugar than everyone is to blame. It’s when they experience new things and have their little adventures together. And usually they are tired enough in the evening to fall asleep too 😉

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3 thoughts on “Sleepovers

  1. Your experiences are so different from mine! I grew up in a small town where everyone knew everyone else. The mothers of my best friends were close friends. We were in and out of each other’s homes all the time, so when we wanted to have a sleepover, no one objected. Way back then we never turned on the TV late at night. If we had, we would probably have seen a test pattern, meaning the station was off the air. None of us ever went home in the middle of the night. I wish I could remember at what age we began wanting to be together all night. Perhaps we were older than your children. Your points are valid, but they simply didn’t apply to our situation.


  2. I was a sleepover kind of kid. But not until about 6th grade. Sometimes I would spend an entire weekend at a friend’s house or they at mine. Of course, my parents knew and were good friends with their parents. I don’t feel we have that here with our kids so they don’t do sleepovers except at DW’s mom’s house. Though the 10 year old has slept at a friend’s house a couple times. They were up until 3 am! I totally understand the not want to sleep at other people’s house though.


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