Parenting; it’s a tough gig am I right? Just when you think you’ve got things figured out, bam, they go and change. Turns out, kids keep growing and with each new age and stage comes a whole new set of rewards and challenges. I’ve spoken here before about all the new stuff we’ve had to learn since the little man started school this year; there seems to be something new everyday. Yesterday morning at school drop off, one of the other mums came over to speak to me. Her son is planning his birthday party and he wants some of his friends to have a sleepover; one of those friends of course being our son. Straight away my brain went a little something like this “no not yet, he’s not ready for this yet, I’m not ready for this yet, he’s still too little.” I let the Mum know I would speak to our son about it and get back to her.
Within 10 minutes I was at work and had gathered the fellow work mums to workshop the situation. They quickly reassured me that it was perfectly fine to not be comfortable with our 6 year old son having a sleep over at someone’s house. The things is, he’s only ever really slept over two places without us; his Grandma’s and his Aunty’s. This past school holidays he did have his first sleepover at friends place but the we are very close to the family (having known them since high school) so we felt comfortable with that. I don’t think he’s ever even gone to someone’s house for a play date without me being there before (again, apart from family and close friends). Having only really spoken to this particular Mum a couple of times, and never having met the Dad, I just didn’t feel comfortable and my husband totally agreed (always good to know we’re on the same page!)
This isn’t the first time since becoming a parent that I’ve wondered when? When is the right time? When will he be old enough? When will he be ready? When do you stop doing this and start doing that? And I’m sure it won’t be the last time either. But here is what I’ve come to learn. I think you just know. Like many things in life, your gut will tell you and when it comes to parenting, you’re child will also tell you (either literally or maybe just figuratively). It’s about knowing your child….and I know mine. I know that just like his Mum he is a bit of a homebody, that he can get shy and a bit anxious in new situations, that he hasn’t yet quite found that confidence needed to speak up when he might not be feeling comfortable or safe; and until he does, having sleepovers at friends places just isn’t something that is going to be happening.
I decided to have a simple, honest conversation with our son. I let him know that his friend had invited him for a sleepover but that I didn’t really think he was old enough yet for that and because he hadn’t really had a sleepover at a friends house before maybe we should wait for a while. I was relieved (and a little proud) when he agreed, nodded his head and suggested “maybe I could just go for a little play Mum and you could just pick me up before bed time.” Because, like me, he just knew. Every child is different and I think as parents, we just need to be guided by them. We need to trust that they will let us know when they are ready.
Have you every faced this type of situation as a parent before? How old was your child when they had their first sleepover? What about their first parent free play date?