I am a desi – person of Indian origin, yes, and a mother to boot. This comes with some baggage for sure. Home-cooked food just like mom used to make is best, Daliya (wheat porridge) for breakfast is so good for you, and sleepovers – hell no!
At least that’s what I thought before I had kids. I remember long discussions with other not-yet parents offering my superior opinion on parenting. I thought I knew it all. Today I realize that is very little, and as kids are getting older even less.
In fact recently I have come over to the “coconut” side on quite a few things (Coconut – the seed of the coconut palm tree, also a tongue-in-cheek reference to a person who is brown on the outside and white on the inside).
First, I will no longer force food down your throat every time you come visit (yes, that is an Indian thing).
“Would you like seconds? No? OK!”
Second, I have become a believer. In occasional sleepovers.
My daughter was 8 when we accepted her first sleepover invitation, and I hesitated a few times. But it went so well that we tried again. And then again.
So here are some guidelines to consider as all of us navigate the treacherous waters of “tweenhood” and figure out which side of the sleepover fence works for your family.
7 questions to ask yourself when your child asks for a sleepover
1. What are the parents of the other child like? As a parent you need to know and have confidence in the parents on the other side. This is the first and the biggest consideration because you must be sure your child will be SAFE in the other home.
2. Is your child ready? This is a close second consideration without which you can’t move any further. Will she sleep away from her bed, her home and her family. I am glad we waited till our older one was well over 8 for her first sleepover because she had more confidence and was excited about it rather than something she thought all the kids were doing. On the other hand I know kids who have been at sleepovers quite happily since they were much younger. Whatever works for your child and your family, I say, but they should be ready.
3. Do the children get along? Your child’s relationship with the other child/-ren must be close, happy and balanced. A sleepover is a little more involved than a playdate and if there is any tension you may be getting a middle of the night phone call.
4. What’s the plan? You need one if it’s at your house. Work with your kid to have a rough plan of the evening and then be flexible. Activity/ craft/ games, dance party, dinner, movie, breakfast, lights out, breakfast etc. It is better to have an understanding of how the evening will progress and then have a back up plan up your sleeve. And then another! I remember once when the kids suddenly decided they wanted to all bake cookies instead of Rainbow Loom. Thankfully the Wii came to my rescue. That brings me to the rules!
5. What are the rules? Confirm the house rules with your child beforehand. Privacy – theirs and others. This is a big one and must be addressed if the rules at your home are different from the norm – close the door of the washroom, change in a private area etc. What time is lights out (I am flexible with that one for sleepovers), making a phone call etc. Really, rules are anything that is of importance to you. Just think it through, and then discuss with your child.
The next two are questions when you are organizing a sleepover for a few children
6. What do the kids like to do? In a large group group children with similar interests together. Perhaps activity focused, crafts, gaming, nail salon. Just remember if everyone has different interests you will need a couple of backup plans and ways to handle the sulky faces.
7. What about electronics? Is there a limit to the use of electronics, screen time, what about the internet, phones with cameras. And when you are looking for a foolproof way to get out of a jam, do what I do.
“The rules in our family say we can’t surf YouTube without an adult present. Sorry, those are just the rules.”
What has been your experience of sleepovers?