A first sleepover. It’s a big step for children and can be so exciting. But for some, they find it daunting being away from home. 

Nowadays children seem to stay away from home a lot earlier and more frequently, than we did when I was a child.  I was in Brownies from age 7-10 and we never did a camping trip. At Guides we did, but I was ill at both guide camps I went on.  We also did a school residential trip in the first years of juniors, so year 3 or 4. 

I went to Poole for a week age 7 and had a great time, but now I’ve a child of my own, sending N for a week away sounds way too young.  In his school they go on a residential in years 5 and 6, although we know other children who are in cubs, beavers and brownies and are going for weekends camping at age 7 and 8.

First sleepover tips - Bubbablue and me

So prepping children for staying away from home is so important.  It’s not a situation you want them to be worries about. And you don’t want to spend the night or weekend panicking either.

When I’m talking sleepover, I’m talking a non-family sleepover. I think in this day and age, so many children go to visit grandparents during school holidays for childcare, many are used to staying away with family from early school years.  But sleepovers with friends is very different.

My first sleepover with friends was around age 10, and bizarrely the parents let us watch Hellraiser 3.  A very odd choice, and not something  we actually finished watching because we were too scared.  Hopefully these tips will help you avoid this type of sleepover worry. N’s first sleepover party recently was very calm and different although he did end up sleeping in his friend’s bedroom on his own rather than downstairs with the others, because he couldn’t get to sleep with everyone talking.

Tips for helping kids cope with a first sleepover

1, Get children used to sleeping over at an early age in environments they know. With family members if you’re going on a night out.

2,  Have a sleepover pack for them.  Every time they go for a sleepover they have the same home comforts – their own duvet or sleeping bag and pillow, teddy bear, sleepover bag, a little clock with a light in case they wake early, a book, onesie etc.

3, Always pack them a teddy. Even if they don’t want to look silly in front of friends, even if the teddy stays in their bag, they’ll know it’s there for comfort.

4, Find out from the friend’s parents what the plan is and tell your child so they know what’s going to happen.  If they know where they’re going to sleep, what the timings are, and what’s happening for tea, that routine will help them.

5, Talk to them about situations they might find themselves in, so they know how to cope, rather than them having to think on the spot.  So, if they wake early, give them a time they can get up and suggest they take something quiet to do while they wait for others to wake up.

6, Let the other parents know if there’s something that your child might need them to know.  Are they a bedwetter, do they sleepwalk or talk, are they really fussy eaters, are they not allowed sweets or fizzy drinks.

7, Remind them that if they want to come home, they can do, and just to speak to the other parents to get them to phone.

8,  If you’re nervous about it, arrange something for you to do that evening so you’re distracted.

9, Keep the next day free.  They will be tired, even if they do manage to go to sleep.

Hopefully these tips help smooth the way.  Sleepovers are so exciting, but if they don’t work out the first time, just leave it, and wait until they’re ready another time.

What age were yours the first time they did a sleepover with friends? How did it go?

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