How young is too young for a child’s first sleepover? As a mom of a 5 year old I haven’t really had to ask myself this question yet…. We’ve only had sleepovers with family or friends who are so close they might as well be. This Fall my son has started his first year in Scouting. I thought there would be no way that sleepover camp would be a thing in the youngest level, Beavers. Wrong! We are preparing for camp at the end of the month.
My initial thought was NO WAY, my 5 year old will not be going to a weekend long camp one and a half hours away from home. I mean, that’s so far away if he needs me and how will he manage to fall asleep in a cabin full of other kids and, god forbid, what if there is an unsafe person there??? On the other hand, maybe he will have fun and gain some valuable skills and make new friends… But, again, he is so young!
I still haven’t decided what to do about this looming sleepover camp… We’ve chatted about it and my son feels like he isn’t ready to go alone yet either. This makes the decision easier. We take him for the day, or one of us stays and sleeps at the camp. The Scouting group is totally fine with either option and completely appreciates the hesitation that some of us newbie parent’s are experiencing.
The thing that this issue has hit home is something that I have been noticing since he started Kindergarten this year: lack of control. That’s right. I said it. You see, for the past 5 years almost every single decision about my child has been made by myself, his father or a very trusted and close person to our family. I guess this is one of the bonuses of being a work at home parent who didn’t use full time childcare?
For the past month and a half (since the beginning of September), I’ve realized that everyday someone else, who I really don’t know, is making decisions for my child and I have to let it happen. Control freaks, take a breath. Until now, I didn’t even get that I was a bit of a control freak when it came to my kid. Yet, the struggle I’m going through this Fall tells me otherwise. And, damn, it can be hard to let that shit go! What I am learning is that this is a natural part of being a parent, and it is healthy. In a world that has really lost a lot of it’s “village” when it comes to raising children, we have to expect to feel strange when the institutionalized village steps in and we are asked to put trust in it.
So, I breathe and I realize what a joy it has been to raise this baby my way for the past 5 years. His dad and I have laid the foundation and will continue to do so, but it is time to let go just a little bit. This might not mean overnight sleep over camp yet, though!
What age was your child when they had their first real sleepover or overnight camp? How did you feel about it? How did your child find it? I would love to know!