Life, Parenting

Rite of Passage: The First Sleepover

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I’m back to life after New Year’s Eve. Not because I was hungover but because my daughter had her FIRST sleepover.

Two hours before the clock struck midnight, the nagging began. Renaissance Man and I were sipping bubbly on my mother-in-law’s couch while screaming toddlers played at our feet. Yes, this is how we ring in the New Year since becoming parents. I know. We’re wild.

My seven year old plopped down on my lap and started the negotiations:

Lolli: Mom, can I pleeeease spend the night at grandma’s?

Me: But you didn’t pack anything. You don’t even have a toothbrush.

Lolli: I’m sure grandma has an extra one. Pretty please mommy.

Me: Ask your dad.

Needless to say, we agreed to let her spend the night. But, it wasn’t without a fight. I don’t know what it is about sleepovers that I want to avoid so badly.

I’m certain it’s because of the irrational thoughts that bombarded my head. Perhaps I saw Lolli as a child who was incapable of being separated from her mommy. I couldn’t help but wonder: Will she fall asleep easily? What happens if she has a bad dream? Who will be there to greet her in the morning?

I am such a worry wart. My gosh! It was just a sleepover. She wasn’t going off to college. Or worse, getting married. God help me when we cross that milestone. I will be a walking puddle.

The truth is I can’t insulate my children forever. I know that sleepovers with girlfriends are inevitable. Lolli has already been invited to a few slumber parties, but I shut that down real fast. For now, I still have a measure of control over my babies and I plan on keeping it as long as I can.

As it turned out, Lolli did great. I didn’t fare so well. I woke up several times thinking about the empty bed down the hall. I’m sure I will change my views on sleepovers in a few years. After all, if other parents are gluttons for punishment, why should I care?

Has your child ever had a sleepover?

About Anka

Spent forty grand on a journalism degree just to learn that truth is stranger than fiction. Now I spend my days changing diapers and eating bon bons. If you're looking for a place to commiserate, then come join me at It's kind of like a playdate, but for grown ups.


86 Responses to “Rite of Passage: The First Sleepover”

  1. I felt that way with my daughter’s first sleepover. Honestly, I still feel that way!

    Posted by | January 3, 2013, 6:23 am
  2. My son is almost 2. He has not. My mom has been begging me lately to let him sleep over by her house. He doesn’t do well sleeping anywhere but his own crib in his own room. He never even liked co sleeping. We tried maybe 2 times. He was in his own room 2 days out of the hospital. We have tried a couple times to go out of town. The last time, this past Thanksgiving, we were up until after 3 am with him. He refused the pack n play and he even refused to fall asleep in bed with us. I keep explaining this to her. She says she doesn’t care, they can party all night. I have pointed out that it might not be happy times. He just likes his bed. He has never even passed out in the highchair when he was younger. She says she doesn’t care. He deserves to have a grandma sleepover. Sigh…..I don’t want to go down that road. I trust my mom, obviously. I just know how it will end. I also know I will have to deal with the tired crappy mood the next day or two as he readjusts. I keep pushing it off, but I don’t know how long I can keep it up.

    Posted by | January 3, 2013, 6:55 am
    • Sounds like your son is a creature of habit. I wouldn’t disrupt his sleeping patterns just yet. You have to follow your mommy radar and stick to your convictions. My son is three and I still would not let him spend the night at grandma’s. Maybe you can assure your mom that an overnight trip is in the works, but you’d prefer to wait until Jack’s a bit older. Hang it there my friend. There is a season for everything!

      Posted by Keeping it Real | January 4, 2013, 9:14 am
  3. To cute! I remember those days about grandma house:)

    Posted by | January 3, 2013, 7:22 am
    • I think grandma’s house is a good place to practice having sleepovers. At least, it’s family and you can barge over anytime you want. Sounds like you might be in another season of life with your children. Perhaps they’ve outgrown sleepovers.

      Posted by Keeping it Real | January 4, 2013, 8:50 am
  4. My daughter does great with sleep overs at our house- we have friends over it all works out…strangely, she has stayed the night w/auntie, w/gma and they said she inquired where I was, but no biggie. I assumed we were beyond that 3 years later, and a handful of overnighters w/realtives. Recently, she stayed with a family and their two girls we hang out with all the time…got a call in the middle of the night to come pick her up…she couldn’t hang. So wierd. She loves that family, and we are with them every day and at their house often. She is comfortable with them. Guess she just like to host her own slumber parties.

    Posted by | January 3, 2013, 7:40 am
    • Aw, that’s cute that your baby girl wanted to be picked up. The getting out of a warm bed, not so fun. But a mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do. I’m with you on hosting slumber parties. I’d much rather have my house be the hang out place. Glad you stopped by Sandi. Have a great weekend!

      Posted by Keeping it Real | January 4, 2013, 8:59 am
  5. Love those eye bands!

    My son had a sleep over, I do remember his first. And it was always good, to me. He was in good hands, and had another experience of another family. Being a parent single, I enjoyed the break, too. Sleepovers. I think are great.

    Posted by | January 3, 2013, 7:59 am
  6. I enjoyed the read. She was pretty safe on the sleepover though. After all, Grandma is a Mom too but she’ll never take your place. :)

    Posted by | January 3, 2013, 8:05 am
    • Your statement is so true, “Grandma is a Mom too.” Yes, indeed. Knowing that she was in good hands helped take the edge off. I know my daughter will have many more wonderful memories at her grandparents house. Thanks for stopping by! :)

      Posted by Keeping it Real | January 4, 2013, 8:54 am
  7. The Tornado just started having them. Her very first one happened the day her brother was born – she went to my mom’s house and ended up staying there for TWO NIGHTS! It was a pretty big deal. Since then, she has slept over at my sister in laws twice. SHE LOVES IT!
    I was never allowed to have sleepovers when I was little, and I feel like I missed out on a LOT. The Tornado won’t have that issue. She’ll be able to sleepover at her friends place every weekend if she wants, and she will always be welcome to have her friends sleepover here.

    Posted by | January 3, 2013, 8:09 am
    • Tornado sounds well adjusted. Good for you for not denying her memorable experiences. I will definitely allow my children to spend the night. It just takes me a while to warm up to the idea. But as for hosting sleepovers, my door is always open. A house full of screaming seven year olds wouldn’t bother me a bit! Unless, of course, it’s 3:00 a.m.!

      Posted by Keeping it Real | January 3, 2013, 8:54 am
  8. We parents don’t fare as well as our kids do with these rites of passage, and there will be many. For me the worst one was when my son drove away solo for the first time in the old red Explorer…I thought I’d die before he’d be back, if he’d be back. But as it were, he came back within an hour completely whole and I survived…all of those firsts, somehow miraculously.

    Posted by | January 3, 2013, 8:14 am
    • Oh no, driving SOLO for the first time! I would be like you, holding my breath till the very minute my kid walked through the door. Sometimes I wonder how much anxiety one mother can take? But like you said, we manage to survive. Thanks for the encouragement!

      Posted by Keeping it Real | January 3, 2013, 8:34 am
  9. I will be a walking puddle…oh like that. I can certainly identify with your dilemma, even to Grandma’s. I recall my son’s first sleepover that I was not happy with !! Three boys stayed up the whole night literally, pouring themselves gallons of root beer !! Kids stuff I know, but they were only eight at the time. Needless to say, I was super cautious for his next invitation.

    Posted by | January 3, 2013, 8:16 am
    • Oh yuck! Drinking all the root beer must have nailed their stomachs. This type of incident is precisely why I’m reluctant to let her attend sleepovers. Then again, I can’t keep her locked up her entire life. The woes of motherhood I tell ya . . . they NEVER end!

      Posted by Keeping it Real | January 3, 2013, 8:47 am
  10. My kids spend a lot of time with my parents (they’re my childcare when I work), so they’ve had sleepovers with them every few months from the time each was able to go through the night without the boob. But in the past year, my daughter (7, almost 8) has been exploring the world of sleepovers with her friends. The girls love them–there’s a small group of them, and they have developed the ritual of movie-popcorn-book-telling stories until they pass out. Lots of times, the sleepover is aborted at 12… or 2:30 a.m. — when someone suddenly decides they must go home (we generally only do these with families who live REALLY close to us. Like, stumbling distance). I really struggle with the sleepover, because the day after is horrid. The girls are exhausted and often cranky with each other. The sleep patterns are screwed up, so the next day’s bedtime is hard. The brothers feel kind of left out of the whole thing, and so act out. Yuck. But. The girl loves them and begs for them. The compromise is I dole them out very rarely–and only when I think I’m capable of writing off the entire next day and night.

    I prefer to have them at my house–but part of having them elsewhere is totally about relinquishing control. You have to have trust in the parents and family at the other house… and if you don’t, you shouldn’t be letting your child sleep over there.

    You survived, though!

    Posted by | January 3, 2013, 8:23 am
    • That’s exactly what I fear, the chaos that follows the sleepover. I would prefer to host the sleepovers at my house too. This would give me more peace of mind. But like you said, you have to absolutely trust the parents of the house otherwise it’s a no go. By the way, I was wondering if you got my email? I selected you as the “REAL DEAL” mom of the month (

      Posted by Keeping it Real | January 3, 2013, 8:29 am
      • Oh, wow, Anka, so flattered, thank you! I just retrieved your email (along with a bunch of posts; Google is getting too picky!) from my spam; so glad you followed up. I will send you the jpg etc when my night is again my own. Thank you so very, very much. Jane

        Posted by | January 3, 2013, 8:00 pm
  11. This one made me smile. It just hit me yesterday that our oldest daughter is starting her very final semester of high school (I know – denial makes me slow.) and soon she will be headed off to college. “Sleepovers” take on a whole new meaning at that stage…..

    Posted by | January 3, 2013, 8:23 am
    • Sleepovers certainly take on a whole new meaning at that age. Gees, I can’t imagine high school slumber parties yet. I’m still trying to cope with second graders. In case I didn’t tell you already, I wish you and your family all the BEST for 2013!

      Posted by Keeping it Real | January 3, 2013, 8:32 am
      • The beauty of parenting is that you “grow” with your children. ;)
        Best wishes to you and yours as well!

        Posted by | January 3, 2013, 8:41 am
  12. Yes. It was heartbreaking and I’ve no idea why. I slept in her bed hugging her favourite teddy bear that night. I guess it’s hard to let go and accept they have a life outside of you.

    Posted by | January 3, 2013, 9:17 am
  13. That is adorable. My mother was the same way.

    Posted by | January 3, 2013, 9:20 am
    • Becca, you must be the ONLY daughter in the family, right? If you are, then I so feel your mother’s pain. It’s hard letting go of your baby girl. Just wait till your wedding day! By the way, I wanted to share an idea I’ve got brewing for the coming weeks. I tried sending you a New Year’s email to but it probably went to SPAM. Is there a better way to reach you?

      Posted by Keeping it Real | January 3, 2013, 9:37 am
      • Yes, I am definitely the only daughter and the youngest to boot. I was SO sheltered, but I turned out to be a good human I believe, so I don’t rag my mom to o much for it. Plus, I made up for it in college ;) .

        I looked through my spam (man is there a lot of that CRAP) and didn’t see anything. You can try to send it to I will be on the lookout.

        Posted by | January 3, 2013, 9:43 am
      • I just sent the email!

        Posted by Keeping it Real | January 3, 2013, 10:47 am
      • Got it. I will reply soon.

        Posted by | January 3, 2013, 11:02 am
  14. My kids have had sleepovers at their grandparents’, but that’s it. My Mother-in-Law is a saint and puts my parenting to shame, so I actually feel MORE comfortable when the kids are with her! Bahahaha! Man, that makes me sound bad!!!! But I don’t blame you for nixing the slumber party idea!

    Posted by | January 3, 2013, 10:10 am
  15. I am so not a fan of the sleepover! but at least it was at grandma, so not so bad. but i get it, i like my kids in their own beds at night. makes me feel better, who cares what they want. hahaha

    Posted by | January 3, 2013, 11:37 am
  16. Now I feel like a horrible mom! I never had any problem with the kids going to spend the night at Grandma’s! Granted they usually only do this a couple times of year but I always breathe a sigh of relief when we drop them off! The only thing I worry about is how sugared up they are going to be when I get them back! Now, going to friend’s houses is another thing. Iris slept over at one her friend’s houses this past summer and I was a nervous wreck the whole time! She was completely fine thankfully but I don’t think it will be any easier the next time it comes up!

    Posted by | January 3, 2013, 12:44 pm
    • Oh Melissa, I could totally imagine you being a nervous wreck. I would be the same way if my daughter spent the night at a friend’s house. Probably wouldn’t sleep a wink. Grandma’s house may be filled with all sorts of treats, but at least it’s familiar territory. Dealing with a sugared up kid is something different altogether. Detox anyone?

      Posted by Keeping it Real Mom | January 4, 2013, 5:53 pm
  17. Our kids slept at Grandma and Grandpa’s for New Years and did great! I am a fan…it was so nice having a date night and a quiet house in the morning!

    Posted by | January 3, 2013, 2:20 pm
  18. My kids have spent a week at my mums in the summer holidays while I am working, she lives 2 hours away. I do miss them. We went away on honeymoon for 2 weeks and left them with my mum again. But, I am not so keen leaving them at the in-laws and Kid 1 has only had one sleep over at a friends, her cousins were there too so I felt fine with that. Not keen on her staying at friends ‘alone’ as it were. It definitely depends on who they are with!

    Posted by | January 3, 2013, 3:01 pm
  19. I still don’t like my kids having sleep overs. I don’t care if they ARE married and have husbands and kids. I so get you on this.

    Posted by | January 3, 2013, 4:46 pm
    • Colleen, we have more than just chocolate in common. You made me giggle when you said, “I don’t care if they ARE married and have husbands and kids.” That’s absolutely right! A mother’s work is NEVER done. It’s adorable that you still worry about your babies. They’re blessed to have you!

      Posted by Keeping it Real Mom | January 4, 2013, 5:42 pm
      • Anka it’s funny how you just made that comment. When my kids were little and I felt I had screwed up in some way I used to say (sometimes still do) that God did not bless my kids by making me their mom. And you just said other wise. Kind of got to me. :)

        Posted by | January 5, 2013, 6:12 am
  20. With children, life is a series of “firsts”–first sleepover with relatives, first sleepover with friends, then campouts and staying in dorms to consider colleges–and as parents we experience it all, even when we’re not allowed to come along.

    Posted by | January 3, 2013, 9:19 pm
    • I love that line, “We experience it all, even when we’re not allowed to come along.” No truer statement. Although we are not physically present during their “firsts,” we are certainly invested emotionally and mentally. Thank you for sharing such sage advice!

      Posted by Keeping it Real Mom | January 4, 2013, 5:45 pm
  21. Last year, all of our children reached the age where they were all old enough for sleep overs (as decided upon by my wife and I). There came a night when the stars aligned and all four of our children ended up sleeping over at different friends’ houses. We were ALL ALONE! Joy! Rapture!…. ok, now what? Since then, we have adapted to this strange event. Yessireee ;)

    Posted by | January 3, 2013, 9:40 pm
  22. I don’t blame you. We are avoiding sleepovers like the plague for as long as possible. :) There’s something about the sun going down and my baby not under the same roof as me that scares the crap out of me! Happy New Year!

    Posted by Whitney | January 4, 2013, 7:14 am
  23. I hear you!! I prefer to have them all snug as bugs at home….. But our eldest is spending a week with my Mum this summer, aaaahhhh, how will this mother cope!! ;-) /Louisa

    Posted by | January 4, 2013, 10:34 am
    • I like that, “Snug as bugs” at home. It’s such an assuring feeling knowing your kids are down the hall from you. As for your eldest spending a week away this coming summer, I’d have anxiety too. I’m sure it will be rough for the first few days then the worry should lessen a bit. :)

      Posted by Keeping it Real Mom | January 6, 2013, 9:00 am
  24. I’m sure I will feel the same once my baby will have his first sleepover, I still have a couple of years left ;-) hiouf! ;-) maybe when she will be older, you will feel better at this ;-) btw, mine is 19 months old and we have never been a night apart, my mom keeps asking me to leave him with her for a night so my hubby and I we could get some rest but I can’t ;-) maybe when he gets older? we will see :-)

    Posted by | January 4, 2013, 1:41 pm
    • Oh, I’d definitely wait to till your little guy is older. Your mom has good intentions and wants to build special memories with her grandson but he might be too young. My son is three and has NEVER had a sleepover. I’m not ready to let go of my baby boy yet! :)

      Posted by Keeping it Real Mom | January 6, 2013, 9:14 am
      • I feel the same :-) but my mom doesn’t, I feel bad for her sometimes :-) my brother has no problem leaving my nephew with my mom since he was a newborn! I can’t, I’m sure I will be like you at 7 I will think he’s still too young :-)

        Posted by | January 6, 2013, 8:06 pm
  25. Anka, I like the new look of your blog! Looks great. My six-year-old hasn’t had a sleepover yet, but my nine-year-old has one every couple of months. I think it is a good way for them to develop independence. I, myself, haven’t had too many kids over for sleepovers. I’m sure that will come! – Amy

    Posted by | January 4, 2013, 10:47 pm
    • I’ll definitely be more comfortable with sleepovers when my children are nine years old. As for hosting slumber parties, the opportunity will not escape us, Amy. We’ll probably have many sleepless nights carved out in our future!

      Posted by Keeping it Real Mom | January 6, 2013, 9:07 am
      • I’ll agree…my six-year-old is not ready for a sleepover! I don’t have girls, so I probably won’t have slumber parties. They will just be “sleepovers.” Haha. And, little ones at that. Having a pack of boys over w

        Posted by | January 6, 2013, 12:34 pm
      • somehow I hit the button…I was saying, having a pack of boys over would be big trouble!!

        Posted by | January 6, 2013, 12:37 pm
      • Oh, Amy, I didn’t realize you had two boys. Not sure which is worse a pack of WILD BOYS, or a group of high maintenance girls. We’ll have to compare notes in the future!

        Posted by Keeping it Real Mom | January 6, 2013, 1:15 pm
  26. So typical! They are fine and we are a complete mess!! I have always hated sleepovers, too, even though my kids are older have done them many times by now.

    Posted by | January 5, 2013, 10:03 am
  27. My kids love sleeping over at their grandparents house. I guess there’s something special about being there at night as opposed to during the day! My 11 and 9 year old have sleepovers all the time now. This summer my 9 year old was at one and they decided to stay up the ENTIRE night. I have a feeling she won’t do that again for a long time; she was miserable the next day!

    Posted by | January 5, 2013, 1:02 pm
  28. though it rarely happens, i’m okay with the kids sleeping at grandmas. but my kids are now asking to have sleepovers at friends houses…THAT freaks me out!

    Posted by | January 5, 2013, 1:06 pm
  29. My kids love sleepovers, especially with the Grandparents. We let them sleepover there whenever they can. My parents have all the grandkids over, make a huge mess, and laugh themselves silly. We get an adult night out!!! As for friends, we let them do some. I usually prefer to have them at my house…(I’m a control freak, I know.), but there are a few close neighborhood families that I’m comfortable with them going to.

    Posted by | January 5, 2013, 2:09 pm
  30. lol This was such a cute post! This is just the beginning for you! My children only stayed at my mother’s house. I didn’t trust anyone else. I think my daughter may have gone to a few sleepovers. Yes, she has. I just asked her lol well, she is now 20-21 the end of this month and my son is 24. I will tell you what was nerve wrecking for me–the first time she left the country! Two years ago she went to Germany to study and last summer she went to England to study. It was the ultimate sleep over jitters for me! I am pretty sure I wrote about her Germany visit on my blog. It was one of my first posts. We have to stay prayerful and let our little chicks fly : )

    Posted by | January 5, 2013, 6:26 pm
    • Your daughter left the country not once but TWICE? Oh, Shawn. You are a HERO! I cannot imagine how you slept. But you’re right. At the end of the day, the only thing you can do is hope and pray for their protection. Letting go of your baby chicks is inevitable. It’s not a matter of ‘if,’ it’s a matter of when.

      Posted by Keeping it Real Mom | January 6, 2013, 9:32 am
  31. Just last week both boys were at my wife’s sister. It was great. We slept later and the house was quieter. A little private time was nice as well. So, I say enjoy the sleepover!

    Posted by | January 6, 2013, 7:06 am
  32. Wonderful post as always! You are on my blogroll now.
    I remember my son’s first sleepover when he was maybe eight. Not sue how he slept, but I spent most of the night awake, thinking of exactly the same thoughts you had, those “what ifs”. The thing is, he did great without me that one night. As a matter of fact, he had a great time with his friends.
    Maybe next time you’ll relax a little.

    Posted by | January 7, 2013, 12:28 am
    • The “what if’s are horrible. Their is no rest for the weary. But you’re right, kids are more resilient than we give them credit for. Good to hear from you again!

      Posted by Keeping it Real | January 7, 2013, 3:55 pm
      • Sorry that I nominated you for the Liebster Award without checking the number of followers for your blog. You have waaaay too many followers for that award. Anyway, just to let you know that I really love your writing and sorry it didn’t work out.

        Posted by | January 7, 2013, 3:59 pm
      • No worries. I am still honored that you considered me. It’s always nice to be in good company! :)

        Posted by Keeping it Real | January 7, 2013, 4:01 pm
  33. Wow! Great commentary on sleepovers! I want to let you know that I nominated you for an award, the Blog of the Year 2012 Award. All of the info and links to other nominees are in my post . Congratulations! and keep up the good work, mom!

    Posted by | January 7, 2013, 4:06 am
  34. My wife feels the same way. You’re doing a great job, so far. Keep up the good work, cutie!

    Posted by | January 7, 2013, 4:25 am
  35. Anka, I love the way you write!!!!! My daughter is 9 going on 19 and has had quite a few sleepovers already. From small she would sleep over at grannies’ and as her (and my) confidence grew, started sleeping over at friends. I must admit – I still suffer from seperation anxiety when she sleeps over. Every time she goes I recite to her this looooooooong to-do and not-to-do list just to have her smile and tell me: “Mommy, don’t worry – I’ll be fine.”

    Posted by | January 16, 2013, 11:37 pm


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