Sleep On It

Parenting doesn’t get any easier. That’s my experience.

This week has been a rough one in terms of parenting decisions. A birthday invite came for Miss9 to attend a party, which was fine, but also to stay for a sleepover. It has been a nightmare trying to take a firm stand in the shifting sands of our resolve. Miss9, as you’d expect, has been laying the pressure on pretty deep, but we’ve managed to keep her in check with a very firm, “No, unless we change our mind.”

Now our oldest kids are 21 and 18, so clearly we’ve been through this before, but you wouldn’t know it to hear us ‘discussing’ the matter all week.

Here’s a sample of the circular conversations we’ve been having. This isn’t an actual conversation, but for a mock up I have to say it is all too accurate.


Tracey: “I think she’ll be fine. She really wants to go.”

Bruce: “If we start her at nine, we start them all at nine.”

Tracey: “She’s been crying.”

Bruce: “Can’t be helped.”

Tracey: “The other four girls are staying over.”

Bruce: “I don’t like to single her out, but they’re not my children.”

Tracey: “So what do we do?”

Bruce: “I’ll pick her up when the other girls go to bed.”

Tracey: “She’ll be so disappointed.”

Bruce: “I hate upsetting her, but what do we do?”

Tracey: “And just when her confidence was up too.”

Bruce: “I just don’t know. Maybe….”

Tracey: “Will you call and talk to the mother?”

Bruce: “Hold on. Maybe we should consider this.”

Tracey: “No, I think she should come home.”

Bruce: “But she’s nine years old, after all. She’s old enough.”

Tracey: “She’s still a baby.”

Bruce: “I think she can stay.”

Tracey: “But I don’t want the other kids to start at nine. Sorry, she can’t.”


For a week, we’re both changed our minds two or three times a day, swinging like pendulums between ‘the sky is falling, the sky is falling’ and ‘you can’t keep them in cotton wool forever’. I want to make jokes about this, but it’s just too damn hard. My mind isn’t smiling. And that’s big because I’m the sort of idiot who laughs at funerals.

It’s not like we’ve never let her stay anywhere overnight before. You ask Grandma, Nanny and assorted other family members – we can’t push them out the door fast enough. But trusting a ‘virtual stranger’ with your kid is something else. Even if that ‘stranger’ is someone you see every day at school.

Ultimately, we decided she could stay, but the decision was made so late we had to pack a bag and drop it over three hours into the party. And this was following a message from the birthday girl’s mum which read, ‘She’s really keen to stay, she asked me to ask you again if she can,’ and us replying she couldn’t. The only reason we caved was we knew these people, we knew these kids and we know our daughter.

Yep, Miss9 might not be invited to any sleepovers again for a while, but it won’t be her fault. It’ll be when word gets around about her high maintenance parents who can’t even properly RSVP to a party invite until the candles are blown out.

Ten Things To Remember With Slumber Parties

Thinking about having a slumber party at your place? Here’s my top ten tips to help you make it through.

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  • I’m a Mum of 7. And I’m still very apprehensive about kids & sleep overs .. even when it’s the 17 year old!
    Yes I wrap my kids in cotton wool & lots of it .. but I have a son who died … in his sleep .. when he was 11 years old.
    I once let my daughter go for a sleep over only to go and pick her up before tea time … I was petrified.
    I guess my reason may be a little different to yours, but at the end of the day we do all worry where our child is sleeping when not at home. And I think we’ll be like it forever.

    You did well on letting your daughter go for a sleep over at 9 years of age.

    • Tammy, I can’t imagine the level of apprehension you must feel about sleepover because of your tragedy. I’m so so sorry for you loss. Never met you, don’t know the details, and I’m welling up just thinking about it. Our love goes out to you and your family. Thank you for your comment.

  • well i have an 8 year old here sleeping over right now lol and my son has stayed at his mates in the past couple years and he is only 8 …. my lil one has only ever stayed at grandmas *(she is 4) i am guessing my older girls started in ealry primary school …..guess it depends on how well you know the parents 🙂

  • My oldest two were not allowed to sleep over till about 11/12. Even parties were wrecked by my ‘being there’ til they were about 9. Our younger kids don’t sleep over anywhere except their aunts/uncles or grandparents. My 11 year old slept at a non family members recently and I fought the urge to go pick her up, but realised I was being a ‘little’ over protective. Unfortunately people just do not look after my kids properly ( even though I have no actual evidence to back this up, who needs logic and reason I say!! 😉 )

  • Oh Bruce, you’re going to tell me off! I let the littlest one go for her first sleepover at 5!! But it was a very trustworthy school friend, just down the street. The other two wouldn’t sleep at friends houses until they turned 9, went through that stage of getting to about 10pm and I’d get a teary phone call! No the cant get out of here quick enough when invites are dished out!

    • You’ll get no recriminations from me Clancy. It’s the call we each have to make for our own kids 🙂

  • I am terrible even my teen daughter does not sleep anywhere unless I know and suss out the parents. My 9 year olds best mate lives with her dad. She will never sleep over there. Not because of any reason other than there is no mum. Which is terrible really. But no matter how long I will know him for or how ‘great’ he is the answer will always be no. I’d rather all the kids sleep here that way I KNOW they are OK. I wonder if I ‘loosen’ up when Ava is 9, another 8 years to go!! lol

    • My oldest is 21, and that was 12 years ago, so I’m guessing not Emma. We are who we are. I say we embrace it 🙂

  • I started going for sleepovers at 8, at friends places where our mums where also good friends. I had friends stay whole weekends or for 10 days at one time! Each to their own…. But I’m glad I have at least 7 years to make that decision!

  • I must be a slack parent – my 7 year old’s birthday party turned into a sleepover last year, I wrote on the back of the invites that we would love it if they could sleep over – her birthday is 3 days before christmas, so also gives the other parents an opportunity to shop/wrap/whatever.

    We ended up with 10 extra kids ranging from 3-10 years old!

    (4 from school – so either 6 or 7 years old).

    I have no hesitations in sending my girls for sleepovers. If they get scared, we will get a call – and of course go and get them.

    (I have three daughters, and my 7 year old is the eldest – she has been having sleepovers at her best friends house since she was 3!)

    • We have cousins sleep over here all the time. I, like most parents, have no trouble with kids sleeping here.

  • Hey, Bruce – I have no experience in this matter, but I’ve read your post with great interest (and trepidation for future years of tough parenting decisions). Thanks for being brave and honest in your bloggings.
    I can only imagine the level of trust that goes into letting your precious child be in the care of parents you don’t know very well.

  • My lil princess 7 has had sleepovers at her GodMothers house and once at an Aunties and when I was sick she stayed at her grandparents for a week. However she doesnt get invited to repeat the process …. she doesnt prodcue the chemical to make you sleep so its easy for me to say NO. I dont want to put another parent through it and she will keep there kids up too lying there talking all night. She is getting better and has just made a new firend in the street. The little girl keeps inviting her for a sleepover every single weekend but I spoke to her mum and explained the situation and her mum agreed with me NO Sleeperovers until she can sleep a WHOLE night through. Easy out, But I would sooo love it to happen once a month so hubby and I could have a date night and not worry about the babysitter at home.Lols!

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