Sleepovers are a rite of passage for any child. Cast your mind back to when you were young when spending the night at a friend's house seems like the best thing in the world. For one night only you're set free to live in someone else's house, most likely to stay up late with your gang and watch movies, eat popcorn and laugh - a lot. Although most children grow to love sleepovers, it can be a pretty big deal if they've never done it before. It's not unusual for a child to be both excited and anxious at the prospect of spending a whole night away from their parents. This is uncharted territory for them, and they may need your help navigating it at first.
Likewise, allowing your child to go to a sleepover is a big step for us parents, too. For a lot of us, it's the first time that our kids have really been under someone else's control. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to ease both you and your child into it.
Do a dry run
Before you go the whole hog and hand over the reins to the parents of your children's friends, why not see how you go with a sleepover at a relative's house first. It's familiar enough to make everyone feel comfortable, while still different enough to see if any issues arise.
Talk to your child
It may seem like an obvious suggestion, but taking the time to talk to your child before the big event goes a long way. They may feel embarrassed to bring up any worries they have, so talking through their anxieties before they go will help to ease them. It will also make you feel better knowing that your child isn't away from home and stressed.
Remind them of their manners
We all like to think that our kids know how to act around other people they may not know as well, and most of the time they do, but reminding them to be respectful won't hurt. Not only are manners important, but so are things like treating someone else's home with courtesy and care. Simple gestures like taking off shoes and turning off lights when leaving a room are the kind of things that adults remember with thanks. Teaching them about different cultures and religions is also a bonus when it comes to them experiencing other home environments.
Make sure to talk to the parents
Trust is a huge thing when you let your kids attend a sleepover, so making an effort to get to know the parents is one of the first things you should do. Any parent worth their salt will appreciate you taking the time to introduce yourself, and it also makes the communication much smoother should any problems arise.
Show the kids the house at drop off
Make a pre-arrangement with the parents in charge to have a quick tour of the house with your child when you drop them off. It might sound like overkill, but it's important for a number of reasons. If a serious incident such as a fire occurs, it gives your child a better idea of how to exit the premises and also gives them a better chance to adapt to their surroundings. For instance, some children are so shy that they worry about asking where the bathroom is.
Tell them that it's okay to leave
Letting your kid know that it's perfectly fine to leave at any time is vital. Just because they've been dropped off doesn't mean that they're tied into a contract for the next 24 hours. Making both them and the adults in charge know that you're just a phone call away is important.
Lastly, try not to worry. Enjoy these days while you can - soon, they'll be teenagers and you won't see them for dust!
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