Parenting stuff: sleep overs

Now… whose got kids? I really need some help sorting out the thoughts in my brain right now. Ivy has been obsessing about ‘sleep over’s lately. Of course they sound fun and she probably gets the basic concept of them, but I know very well that she has a hard time even staying at Nana’s house over night – she spends most of it awake, asking what the different noises are in the house, and being worried about stuff. This is a house she goes to every week, staying with a person she sees at least once a week and adores.

So, I worry that she’s not ready for a sleep over and I’ve told her that when she gets to the point where she can have a sleep over at Nana’s without any problems, then we’ll consider letting her have a sleep over at someone else’s house. She’s not letting it drop though, all of her friends seem to be talking about sleep overs, its the buzz of the daycare or something.

My gut reaction to all of this is NO. Just no, no I do not want to think about this. But then, that stems from things that have happened to me, things that you never want your own child to have to go through and deal with. Things you just want to keep them safe from for their whole lives even if it means they miss out on stuff.

But, I don’t want her to miss out on stuff…. so my second response is that I really think she should be quite familiar with the house/family she would stay over night with, and that as a parent I would want to know the family quite well too. I’d want to know what they do, who they are, what their lifestyle is like. Is that too much? Do I get a ‘paranoid mum’ badge for that? Or is that not enough? At this stage… well, I guess I could say there are very few people I would feel safe letting her stay over with. Those include my mother, my father, the in laws, my brother and a couple of my best friends. Am I letting my personal history get in the way of her life? Or am I justified in wanting to keep my baby safe?

Anyways, give me your opinions please! At what age do you think kids should start having sleep overs? Do you think it’s important that your child has spent at least some time at the house before the sleep over? How well should you know the family they are going to be staying with? What precautions would you take?

Thanks 🙂


18 thoughts on “Parenting stuff: sleep overs”

  1. Excuse bluntness in reply below


    There is enough time for sleepovers once they hit late primary school. More than enough. That’s early enough.

    I’d say stand up and tell your daughter that: 1. she can sleep over at someone else’s house when she’s 10 (unless they’re trusted close relatives), 2. if she disputes that, she can those parents who have sleepovers to ask you direct. I’d tell those parents in no uncertain terms that my child wouldn’t be coming, and they’d better stop pressuring other parents into letting their kids come. I doubt though that this will be necessary, and I suspect that many parents will agree with you.

    The bottom line is that there are some issues on which you should take a firm stand, and should not let your child emotionally blackmail you. This would be one, imo.

    Sleepovers in daycare


    1. lol yes, I am constantly infuriated by the fact that Ivy is always coming home and telling me that so and so said she could… well, sorry hun, not in our house, and no, that child cannot invite you to do such and such, we will be waiting for their parent to get in touch with us. *sigh*

      Thank you for your bluntness though, I needed someone to back me up on the fact that it’s okay to say no, because no is all I really want to say! I’m not young, but compared to the other mum’s I certainly feel it sometimes, I should just have more faith in myself that I can make good calls when it comes to things like this and not feel pressured.

      I really hate that things go through kids… I wish parents would just come straight to me first because it gets the little ones hopes up and puts undue pressure on other parents when they let the kids talk about something as if its actually happening. I’m really looking forward to her starting school in feb, am quite over the bunch of girls she is hanging out with at the moment!

  2. I don’t know. I have a hard time with this, because my mother NEVER allowed me to go to sleepovers as a child, and it was very hard on me. I do agree that she’s a little young, but I also know how difficult she would find it being “left out”. So I propose a different solution… Have you considered allowing Ivy to have a friend sleep over at your house? Perhaps it would be easier on both of you if the first “sleep over” was one at home.

    1. We don’t really have anywhere for an extra kid to sleep right now, and even if we did – I don’t know these children, or their parents well enough to feel okay about that really. Even if their mother said yes, I guess I’d feel better if there were more familiarity. lol sometimes I don’t even feel old enough to have my own kids let alone be responsible for someone elses! lol

      1. Well it seems like part of the problem is familiarity, so I have to stay maybe it’s time you started meeting with these parents. Coffee dates, play dates… there’s got to be something you can do to become more friendly with them. That way, when this problem arises again in the future (and I guarantee it will in grade one or two) maybe it won’t be as hard.

  3. Also blunt, but my view is: you lose the battle with your toddler, and you’ve already lost the war with your teenager. IMO, the ages between 2 and 6 is when it pays to enforce rules and discipline unrelentlessly (and stick to it yourself, too, without dithering). You may give them the illusion of choice in some things, like what to eat tonight, or clothing, but in some things, you’ve got to be firm and say no. Very often, too, you’ll find that when you get to talk to the parents who supposedly allow all this stuff, the situation is quite different from how your child understands it (for example, the sleepover for toddlers will involve cousins, or families who have done this since the kids were babies)

    1. that’s a great way to look at it! She’s going to be difficult enough as a teenager without letting her get the one up on me already.

      She has an official sleep over invite from another mother (a house shes never even played at, or visited, with just Ivy and the daughter planned to be there) – it annoyed me that Ivy knew all about it well before I did though, she should have approached me before running it past the kids.

      I think too often now parents let their children make the decisions. I’ll always remember talking to a mother and her comments about the way her daughter dressed with her boots and short skirts looking too grown up and I was quite appalled! Um, you buy her clothes don’t you? So…don’t you really get the final say in what she wears? These are kids, preschool and primary school kids, they aren’t old enough to make those kind of choices just yet. Sure, let them pick what clothes they will wear every day, but don’t let them dictate things you’re not comfortable.

      Hah, I seem to have found my backbone again! thanks.

  4. I’m with Patty.

    Four is too young for a sleep over, no matter who it is.

    And no, you’re not paranoid, you’re concerned and thinking about the welfare of your daughter. Never second guess yourself when it comes to her safety.

    1. I will try not to in future! Sometimes it’s hard to know when personal experience is getting in the way of your thinking though. A lot of parents don’t seem to have the ideas about what is age appropriate as I do, so it’s always nice to know when I’m not being too odd!

  5. D-Daycare… That’s like, before primary, right??

    I’m 19, and not a parent. But I remember going to sleepovers organized by my primary school even when I was like… 6-8. (Yes, as in… sleeping over in our classrooms!!! Don’t know if they’re allowed to do that anymore though…) I had a blast. I think those kind of events are good if they are organized and supervised by the school… but I probably wouldn’t recommend sleeping over in friends’ houses until like… at least 9 or 10. Just for safety issues and things. Like pattyjansen, daycare is probably way too early… It also doesn’t sound like she’s ‘ready’ either, if she can’t comfortably stay at her Nana’s.

    To discourage me from sleeping over at other people’s houses when I was little, my parents often said I should ask people to come over to OUR house. (That way they could keep an eye on me, LOL!) So if you have the time/energy, maybe you could do that?

    1. hey angeldreams 🙂 yeah, Daycare is like preschool, she starts primary in feb.
      I totally agree that social events like that are good for kids, they are usually well supervised etc anyways, and if I was still worried I could always be there to help out. It’s a little different when its with people you don’t really know though.
      She is too young, and I am going to say no for now, she’s just gonna have to live with it! lol

  6. I was 9 or 10 when I went to my first sleep over. If it’s not relatives, you should obviously get to know the parents first and talk to them for a bit. Most of the time she won’t be sleeping, but 9 or 10 is a good age.

  7. Trust yourself – you know her best. There will always be things that you do different to other parents – so what. She is growing up in YOUR family, with your family values – not theirs. It takes plenty of courage to stick to your values, and worth it in the long run. Using the phrase “In our family ..blah blah blah” is really useful for setting the expectations with your children, makes it less personal than the child against the parent – the family is a pretty amorphous entity that can’t really be dealt with LOL-

    Might be useful to also address it adult to adult with the other parent/s? – tell them what you’ve been told via your child from their child, thank them for their offer, then tell them what your family “rules” are – “In our family, we don’t have sleepovers until children are much older “.

    They may be trying to deal with a child who is pressuring them by inviting children without them knowing, getting them into an awkward situation unless they have your confidence – who can tell unless the parents all stick together and make sure the communication goes via parents or is checked by the parents, not ever direct from or via the children. That’s a good habit for when she is older – she will know you are going to check up on each and every invitation that she claims to have had.

    Most of these children won’t even see your child once they’ve left daycare – so in the long term, no social relationships will be affected.

    Trust yourself, trust your instincts, trust what you know of your child and back your family values. With a first child, you will still be finding out about those – so look forward to plenty of other “challenges” like this 🙂 mobile phones at 10, make up at 8, “bra-type” underwear at and early age – there will be plenty more to practice on LOL Now’s a good chance to get some experience in for the times ahead 🙂

    And sadly, no matter how much you try and protect your children, there are things you can never anticipate. Best you can do is to build the best relationship you can, keep the trust going as best you can, and hope they are able to tell you at the time when something goes wrong. If you’ve built their resilience, they will recover, in time.

    1. They do recover, and don’t worry Mum you did a wonderful job and I really hope you don’t feel any blame though as a parent now, I can totally understand how it might be hard not to feel a little, even though you have no control over some situations.

      Anyways, all really good advice. I already use the ‘we don’t do that in our house’ thing anyways about a bunch of stuff, so switching it to ‘in our family…’ shouldn’t be too hard and hopefully she will get that I mean it when couched in those terms. I’d already thought about the fact she won’t have many of these kids in her life after Feb, so I guess it’s a good way for me to practice on people I’m not going to have to keep interacting with as well! lol

      Oh and most of these four year olds already have make up!!! swags of it…

      As always, I really appreciate your input Mum, and love you lots 🙂 See you tomorrow!

  8. Non-parent here, and I apologise if I overstep my bounds, but fwiw I don’t think you’re being unreasonable. If she was ten, I’d say think again, but she’s very, very young – I don’t remember even the concept of sleepovers arising at that age – the earliest was with my best friend at six or seven, and we were close families, almost cousins in some ways – with people I knew less well not until eight or nine. Maybe tease out what she wants about a sleepover – it might be pure “everyone else is doing it why can’t I nothing else will do” – but it could also be that a pyjama party with a couple of close friends would cover it.

    Mostly I just want to offer you hugs, because I understand the minefield of fears you’re navigating (to the point where fear of my inability to cope with it is a significant factor in my decision against having children). From everything I’ve seen it seems clear you’re raising your girls to be resilient and surrounded by love and support, which is really, really important. Everyone’s past, good or bad, has an impact on how they do things, and you’re approaching it thoughtfully and asking for advice, so I really wouldn’t worry that you are being too influenced by it – and if you do, tally up the positive things which have influenced your parenting as well.

    1. Aw, *hugs* thank you Anna, your insight and input is always welcome here, so never worry you’re overstepping boundaries! I think that a lot of parents discount people who have no children, because it does change a lot, but everyone was a child themselves once, and therefore can have something of value to say.

      It’s amazing how much the world has changed, things are happening younger and younger now. it seemed like it was too young to be getting to the sleep over stage, and it’s so nice to be reassured that I’m not the only one who thinks so. I think someone has probably seen it on TV or something, or seen it in a book and thought it looked like a lot of fun. Plus it’s kind of a big kid thing to do too, aw they just want to grow up so fast…

  9. Great advice has already been given, but for my two cents, start with the grandparents and family, when YOU feel ready. Then 8, 9 years old is usually fine. Definitely let Ivy know that other people’s rules are fine for THEM, but your family has its own way. The sooner she learns that, oh so many later battles will be diffused! 🙂

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