55 answers

4-Year Old Sleepover with Grandparents

Yesterday my husband, two kids, and I went to visit my in-laws an hour away, and toward the end of the visit, it was suggested (without asking my husband or me) that my daughter stay the night, and as we loaded the car to leave, my daughter was upstairs picking out which bed she was going to sleep in. Neither of our kids (4 and 2) have slept over anywhere without us, and I know to some that's strange, but when both my husband and I were young, grandparent or other family sleepovers were done out of necessity, and certainly there was more planning involved than asking a 4 year old what she wanted to do at the last minute.

Both my husband and I feel she isn't ready to stay the night away from home, as she doesn't sleep well even with all of us together on a vacation, since she's out of her element. And it's an hour away, which would mean us driving 4 hours from evening to morning just to have her sleep over.

We have now been made to feel very guilty about the whole incident, and my FIL hasn't gotten out of bed today b/c he's so depressed that his coworkers get to keep their grandkids and he doesn't. I personally need more than 5 minutes of preparation for my daughter's first sleepover, and her own toothbrush and pajamas would've been nice, too. I've tried to tell them that it's not them, that my kids haven't stayed anywhere, and I guess I just don't get why I need to have them sleep over. When we go to visit, my MIL and daughter will disappear to play Barbies (I'm invited to play after a few minutes) and my FIL and son will play with blocks or lincoln logs or trains with my husband.

I know that a lot of parents enjoy the break that comes with dropping the kids off for the night, but my husband and I don't go out, we'll crash on the couch with a new movie and some popcorn after the kids are in bed at 8:30, and see the kids in the morning. Is it that big a deal to have them sleep over at 4 and 2?

Thanks in advance for the opinions, and also, do you think it'd suffice to plan for us to drop the kids off there for a few hours while my husband and I did some shopping? Is it alone time with them that they want, or is it something else?

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

I think you should let them sleep over. There shouldn't be much of a dif. between you and their father and their grandparents. I can't say from personal experience but my sister has three children. She has an older child he has been able to sleep over at his grandparents house since he was 2yrs old. The middle child has stayed since he was 2yrs old and the baby has but only out of nec. But i think about 2yrs old is a good age. They are old enough to understand it's bed time and they need to learn to listen to other family members and it's a TREAT. They've been doing a good job in other areas (bedtime, potty training or what not) I trust you do a good job at grandpa and grandmas house.

I have some friends whose kids have had "sleepovers" with grandparents since birth. My kids (5 and 2) have never slept away from home without either myself or my husband. It's all about what YOU are comfortable with.

More Answers

I will try to be quick....

1. If you are not going to be appropriately consulted before the offer is made and the FIL is going to behave like a child when he does not get his way, this does not engender good feelings about leaving your child with them.

2. I don't understand the overwhelming value of sleeping over. Doesn't bonding and play and appreciation occur most frequently during waking hours?

3. Why are they so insistant on spending their quality time with your children without you? I wouldn't like it either. Family should not be exclusionary.

4. I think it is faulty logic to say just because you like your husband (one assumes) his parents will be good grandparents, or that their style of grandparenting is compatible with your style of parenting. In the grand scheme of things, your preferences are paramount.

5. Communication is key, but there is a certain amount of autonomy you are entitled to employ. Just make sure your husband knows if he does not wish to step up and handle the communication with his parents, you will do so, and you are not likely to weigh your in-laws' feelings so high when dealing with what you consider to be what's best for your children.

Good luck, and happy hunting.

2 moms found this helpful

I learned from a friend (an experienced parent) some time ago that if a situation involving your children makes you uncomfortable just say no. As a parent, you should always have the final say. I agree that a sleepover an hour away from home for a 4 year old is too risky. What if she gets up in the middle of the night, for example? In an unfamiliar environment, that could be potentially dangerous and frightening.

But two bigger issues looming here involve your husband's inability to not speak up to his own parents and your FIL's use of guilt as a way to control the situation. Create some boundaries between you and the in laws. Under no circumstances should they place your child in the middle. Decisions regarding your children's welfare should be up to you AND your husband.

In terms of finding time alone with your husband or simply running errands in peace, find a reliable babysitter who's in your area. Neighbors are great resources!

Good luck to you!

2 moms found this helpful

I think that a sleepover needs to be discussed well in advance. I would tell the FIL that you need more than 5 min. notice. You need to get things together. The other thing is the drive. I would ask them if they might take her for a weekend sometime - to make the drive worth it.

My kids were 4th and 6th grade before they spent the night anywhere and they spent the weekend with my parents. That was out of necessity - we were moving out of state and had to buy a house.

So... go with your gut. Say no until you are ready.

1 mom found this helpful

My mother and father (and family) live over 1000 miles away. My father has Alzheimers and they no longer travel. The only way my daughter will have a relationship w/ my family is if I let her stay w/ them. Her first time was when she was 8 months old. She stayed for 2 1/2 weeks. Yes, that was hard on me, but it wasn't really about me (well kinda, I went to Europe for part of that time). Since then she's spent a month (wayyyy toooo long!) and another 10 days with them. And, she's only going to be 3 next week. Our time apart is difficult for me, but I don't want to deprive her of knowing her family. And, since I work, I can't just take off for weeks at a time to stay there with her.

Perhaps the grandparents could have better handled the way it was sprung on you, but I do think it important to let your children have extended time w/ them. What is the worst that can happen? Surely they aren't abusive or pedophiles??

Some of my best memories of my paternal grandmother are from the times that I stayed w/ her. I don't have those close memories of my maternal grandparents b/c I didn't have that bonding time w/ them.


I think you are very normal in feeling this way about your child or children sleeping over anywhere. I have three kids, 2 boys and 1 girl. Boy and girl who are both 4(not twins,long story) and a 10 month old. Honestly I think everyone feels not the same on this matter. I am close to my mother and my daughter just now really says she will stay the night. I think it depends on child though. We live about 45 min from both of our parents. It weird though I think becuz my FIL and MIL will try to keep all my kids overnight and they really dont see them alot, well let me explain that, they come take us out to eat(spend about 2 hours with us and let my kids act crazy), but their grandparents. i think it good for kids if they wanna stay the night with and especially grandparents. If you dont feel comfortable with it,DONT LET THEM MAKE YOU FEEL GUILTY. Its your child and no one elses(well expect husbands of course).When the matter comes to an end it need to be a good and comfortable decision between you and your husband.

I think it is alone time they want plus something more, developing a special unique relationship. We are fortunate to live about an hour from both my parents and in laws. I have a 5 and almost 3 year old. They have had sleep overs since less than a year old. The grandparents love being the caretakers: feeding, baths, sleep, breakfast, planning special activities, etc. When the parents are there it is different somehow. You and your husband may enjoy a night out more than you expect. I think it would be worth the try.

I have some friends whose kids have had "sleepovers" with grandparents since birth. My kids (5 and 2) have never slept away from home without either myself or my husband. It's all about what YOU are comfortable with.

My children have been staying at aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends for overnights and weekends before they were 1 year old. It was important for me to have them used to overnights before it was 'needed'. Plus, it is a wonderful way to connect with their extended family members. My kids are all in bed before 8:30pm every night, so my husband and I always have alone time too. It's not even about that for us. We want them to have relationships with others outside of us.

We let them do week long trips with their aunt during the summer break (she's a teacher) after the oldest turned 1. My in-laws (live 12 hours away) started keeping the oldest two for 3 weeks in the summer when they were 2 and 4. This is their third summer doing 3 weeks! Do I miss them? Of course, but what wonderful memories they get to make amongst themselves. My parents live an hour away and look forward to when they can have special weekends. They like to take one at a time for the entire weekend, Friday night through Sunday, and plan activities geared specifically for that child.

The one thing I didn't get from your post was if when you went to visit - if you and your husband ever leave the kids by themselves and you guys run out? You may not feel comfortable yet with an overnight, but what about a couple hours without supervision? The first couple visits to my in-laws would have my husband and I driving around town, window shopping at the mall or getting an ice cream cone. Anything, to let the grandparents have alone time with the new baby.

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