Monday, 22 July 2013

Sleepovers with friends

One of the big milestones of growing up is when kids are finally old enough to have a sleepover with a friend. It's one of the first real steps toward independence at that age when children are anxious to show how grown-up they are but still want bedtime snuggles from Mom, when they hold hands on the way to school but give good-bye kisses outside the gate beyond their friends' line of sight.

That first sleepover is a big step for little kids just turning into big kids and they look forward to it with as much excitement as Christmas morning - packing their bag, picking out which toys to bring and which stuffy to sleep with, planning out what they're going to play. For most kids' first sleepover it's harder on the moms to have the kids away for the night than for the kids to be away from home overnight for the first time - most little ones are having way too much fun to miss Mom and Dad and the comfort of their own room and bed.

For my eldest, seven was the magic age when he was ready to start having sleepovers with friends, and we never had any problems with homesickness. Oldest child is an extrovert, confident and outgoing and mindful of rules and behaviour and respectful of other adults. Middle child is seven now, but he is nowhere near ready for sleepovers away from home - he's much more of an introvert, shy and often nervous around people he's not completely familiar or comfortable with. It's different for every kid, but when it happens it's a special time regardless of age.

Last week we hosted a double sleepover at our house - both boys invited a friend over for the same night. Twenty-four hours of non-stop over-the-top playdate fun with swimming-soccer-video-games-nerf-gun-fights and pizza-potato-chips-ice-cream-induced euphoric insanity and midnight bedtimes for the kids. Twenty-four hours of parenting four boys and one girl between two and eight years old and one enormous headache for Mommy. (Yes, one of my boys' best friends is a girl. Yes, they had a sleepover playdate. No, I don't think that's weird.)

The kids had a blast. I could have used a nap. But there's something so special for kids about getting to have a sleepover party with their friends that makes it all worthwhile.

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