I am having a really hard time with the American institution of the Sleepover or Slumber party. I had never heard of the existence of such a thing until I moved to the US. What in the world is a sleepover?
When I was the kid growing up in Germany, the only reason one would spend the night at someone else’s house would be because your parents were hospitalized or on a romantic Getaway. The only place you would spend the night would be your grandma’s or a relative’s house. But then this rarely EVER happened. My parents were not the vacationing type.
Let me ask you: Why would you let your child spend a night at a perfect stranger’s home? I remember the agony of my kids asking me once they started school, begging me to spend the night at so-and-so’s house. After all, I already stick out like a sore thumb with my German accent. Then I also became known as that German lady who wrecks birthday parties.
I am sorry I am having such a hard time with this. I just don’t see why children should be allowed to go to another kid’s house and stay up all night eating candy, watching inappropriate movies, and do anything BUT sleep. I have seen the zombie-like victims of such parties at soccer games the next day…
Even better, one time this kid walks up to me, not knowing me from Adam, and says: “Can I sleep over at your house?” What in the Sam hill?
I feel bad for being the crusher of so many sleepover dreams but it took me a while to wrap my mind around this idea. I don’t want to be mean or anything, I just want my kids to be safe and not worry about them getting in the middle of some bad scenario. I have actually had parents confess to me about their regrets letting a child sleepover at times. Looks like I am not alone with my fears.
Over the years I have tried to find a healthy middle ground where I can exist and my kids can still have fun. I developed some rules that make me feel better about letting my child participate in a sleepover. So hopefully all of us can >sleep like a baby< when they are away from home…
1. Knowing all members of the family and what the sleeping arrangements will be is a must for me! I don’t let my child sleepover at anyone’s house unless I have met both parents and the siblings. I have to be able to trust my instincts. If I have any doubts about my child’s safety, I will say “No!” to the sleepover.
2. I talk to the parents about rules in their house and try to assess whether my child will get any sleep that night. If we have big event on the agenda for the next day, and I get the impression that this will be more of a “Awake-over” party, I may allow my child to go to part of the party. I pick them up after they had dinner at their friends house. They just don’t do the sleep part of the party…
3. I make sure I have the parents’ house and cellphone numbers and that they have mine in case of an emergency.
4. It’s also a good idea to discuss what foods are being served, especially if your child has allergies or is a picky eater.
Points to consider from the child’s perspective:
Is he/she emotionally ready to sleep away from home? Will my child be comfortable spending the night at another person’s house?
Discuss with your child what happens in case they wake up before the family in that house does? Our kids are early risers. They are up early regardless of the time they went to bed the night before. Will they be comfortable upon waking up? What will they do when they are awake before everyone else?
Hope my little check list helps you and your kid stay safe and avoid any nightmares.
Ulla Seckler is a dollmaker who was born and raised in Germany. She lives in beautiful Colorado with her husband and two kids. You can find her Notes by a German Dollmaker on her blog where she shares some great German recipes, pictures of her sweet dolls, and life lessons learned. Don’t forget to stop by her Etsyshop and take a peek at her wonderful doll creations.