Lately my daughter has been asking about sleepovers: When can my friends come sleep at our house? When can I go sleep at their house? Am I already at that stage of coordinating slumber parties for my 5-year-old? Stop. This is not yet happening. (But, aha, it does seem to be happening…)
When did I sleep overnight at a friend’s house for the first time? Age 7, second grade. I also remember my mom on the phone prior to this big event, with friend after friend, asking if it was too soon for me to stay overnight at a friend’s house. Then, I remember her asking me, “Do you want to spend the night at Amanda’s house?” I did. I guess I was mature enough for my mom to feel okay about, so my parents agreed. I remember having a blast playing ‘Clue’ with my friend’s dad, feeling safe and comfortable and my mom being very enthusiastic and cool about it when it was all said and done.
Now that I’m a parent, my immediate default for when I don’t quite know how to handle a question or situation is to think about how my parents handled the same things when I was a kid. (Although I do remember and know for a fact that ‘sleepovers’ were not even close to being a part of my vocabulary at the age of 5.) WWMPD, if you will (yes, that stands for What Would My Parents Do). So I’ve been thinking: What would they’ve done had I asked for a sleepover at the age of 5?
They would’ve said “Absolutely not. Age 5 is not appropriate to have a sleepover at a friend’s house yet. Grandma’s house? Absolutely. Cousin’s house? Sure. But not a friend’s house. It’s just too soon.”
And now, I feel the same way. (There’s a big difference between age 5 and age 7.)
Why so old fashioned? Besides the obvious ‘I just feel like age 5 is too little’ mentality for letting kids stay overnight with a non-family member, my logic is this: Once you start something, there’s no way to reel it in later.
You can’t get a wild cat back in the bag once you’ve let it out. You can’t put toothpaste back in the tube. (Although we all know that no one bothers to brush their teeth at slumber parties… ha, couldn’t resist.)
The truth is this: The sooner we open certain doors for our kids, the less we’re able to maintain moderate and rational control over age-appropriate safety. I like to live life leaning to the safe side (that’s just my crazy way), so I tend to wait things out as long as I can before actually trying it with my kids. Of course I want them to grow, as they are already very independent young ladies who trot into school and dance class and friends’ houses without even looking back at me to say goodbye… but once you start something, there’s no going back to what life was like before. And 5 years old seems so young to be spending the night at a non-family member’s house.
But that’s just my – and my parents’ – way of thinking.
What age do you think having sleepovers is ok?