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Best Age to Start Overnight Stays

Hello Moms! How old was your child when you first allowed her/him to stay overnight with other family (i.e. Grandparents)? At which age did you feel your child was ready?

My in-laws live about 200 miles away and they would love to have my daughter come stay for a few nights. My daughter turns 4 yrs old in Feb -- and I was thinking that maybe we could drive her out and let her stay two or three nights this coming summer. But I have no idea when kids become “ready” and comfortable to be away from home. My children have never slept anywhere but at home in their own beds (no, we don’t get out much!), so this would be a very different experience for her. But she loves her Grandparents and always enjoys the few visits we have made to their house.

Since all children are different, I'm sure it depends upon the child’s disposition, etc. But I would love to hear about your experience. How old was your child? Would you do anything different to get them “ready?” Thanks for your input!

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We used to live close to my parents, and my kids started occasionally staying overnight very early. We started by all staying over a few nights, and then later on we sent them without me.

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Mom LK

Age 4 was about the time that my children begun to have sleepovers at their grandparents' home. We were abit closer if something came up or "that call" came late at night (it never came!) You have alot of time to evaluate the situation and prep your child. We got my daughter a special rolling suitcase that was used just for sleepovers (good x-mas idea!). When the day came, she was beaming with excitement as she packed her suitcase with her special treasures, stuffed animals etc. I would try to talk to the grandparents about kid friendly activities they might do with your child during the stay. I am sure she will love the special one-on-one time with her grandparents. The grandparents will be beaming with pride and have lots of stories to share with their friends.

ONE NOTE OF CAUTION: When my children returned from these overnighters, it was a nightmare. They were usually pumped up with energy, abit overindulged in treats (grandparents usually have abit more wiggle room with this) and had a disturbed sleep routine. It took alittle while to reestablish the household rules/boundaries. And then there is the issue of jealousy with any siblings not able to go on this special outing. (I'd make some special plans with those younger siblings to off set any jealousy.)

I believe it is a right of passage of sorts to begin sleepovers. It's another way for your child to build memories with loved ones outside of Mom and Dad.
Best of luck!

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If your daughter doesn't know her grandparents really, really well, days on her own with them at this age will be tremendously stressful.

At this young age, a child still needs one of her 'people' all the time, because so much of how they react to the world is based on how mom (dad, other daily folks in her life) respond --you can see her checking our face for 'how to react' whenever anything unusual or unfamiliar happens. Without one of her people there, she'll have no anchor and become more and more distressed (even if she's a placid child who never demonstrates stress).

My kids knew their grandparents (1.5miles from home) very well --we spent several hours a day with them, several times a week. They were happy to stay with them by the time they were 3 and 5, but only for a night (not a couple of nights at a time.) Sometimes, we'd go and pick them up at 11, because they'd become overwhelmed and needed their own beds at home.

When you see your daughter no longer looking to you (or her dad) whenever something new is encountered you'll know that she is stable in herself with novelty and would probably enjoy the experience. Until then, it's best for you to just go with her on these visits.

Lots of people undervalue the importance of parents in a child's life, even grandparents do it out of their desire to be important to the child. But they can only be important (in the early years) if they are really around a very great deal.

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We started "sleepovers" around 18 months. If she's never stayed the night at your in-laws, I would consider staying one night with her first. Then again, at age 4 I would be surprised if this is a problem. Start getting her out NOW so that she can be a flexible kid. The last thing you want is for her to be afraid of sleeping in strange places (like summer camp!)

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We let my son stay overnight at the grandparent's house as soon as he was weaned at 12 months old. He is now almost 3 and stays at their house all the time. It was especially helpful when our daughter was born and then 2 weeks later when she was hospitalized, both visits were 3 days and 2 nights. They only live 10 minutes away from our house and see him multiple times a week, so it was not a big deal for him to spend the night in the beginning. He is really easy going and I packed him all of his night-time stuff for familiarity. If you think she is ready, she will probably do just fine. Good luck!

My daughter loves staying at my moms and she's 3 1/2 but they are really close. My son is almost 2 and stayed once and he's not really ready yet. She was fine much younger. It just depends on your daughter. Go with your gut.

We used to live close to my parents, and my kids started occasionally staying overnight very early. We started by all staying over a few nights, and then later on we sent them without me.

If she seems excited I say go for it. My son went 500 miles away for a week to his grandparents when he was five. He had a great time. Just don't call too often, she may cry when she hears your voice. Especially don't call at bedtime, she will lie in bed with nothing else to think about except how she misses you.

I don't think there is an age, just when you are all ready. My daughter spent the weekend at my inlaws when she was only a couple months old, but they live about 45 minutes away. It was a nice break for us and great to have that time as a couple for a few days again! I have to add, that I completely trust my in-laws and know they are wonderful caregivers. They didn't bat an eye when I sent a whole written list of the kind of schedule I want my daughter on and what she could and couldn't have. My MIL actually sent back a list of times she ate/slept/pooped...ect. That really made me feel they respected my wishes about my daughter's care and I felt very comfortable after that knowing she was in good hands. The exact opposite is true of my own dad. He always insisted on pushing the boundaries and wanted to do nothing but load my 8 month old up on cookies and sweets and never even give her a nap. Spoiling her is his only way and due to that, I felt that he did not respect our wishes in regards to our daughter's care. She did not spend the night at his home until she was over two years old due to this. My daughter herself never had a problem with the weekends or nights spent, she actually looks forward to them. She adores all her grandparents and is very comfortable around them and without me or her dad around. Since, your daughter has never spent a night out of her own bed, I think it could go either way. You say she enjoys her visits with her grandparents so that is a good sign. I think alot of it will depend on your attitude about it. She will somewhat take her cue from you. If you seem nervous or hesitant about it, she will pick up on that and possibly feel that too. If you are really comfortable with it, then talk it up and make it sound like a special treat. Maybe a good test run, would be to have your parents come stay at your house for a night or weekend while you and hubby get away. (could be a nice getaway if its in the budget) That way your daughter would get the feel of spending an elongated visit with gram and gramp, but also have the security of being around her own stuff. If all goes well, you can try their place the next time. If this won't work, would you be willing to take her down to their place and then maybe stay a night at local hotel with hubby? That way if anything goes terribly wrong (and I doubt it will) you will be within arms reach. (would also be a nice little getaway) You also wouldn't have to make the 3hr plus drive back and forth. Just some suggestions, do what feels good to you. I think as long as the grandparents are on board with your wishes and you trust them, than she is more than old enough. And not to be morbid, but grandparents aren't around forever and this is such a special time for them to spend with your child. Some of my best childhood memories are spending weekends and later summers at my grandparents farm when I was young. Best wishes!

I think it all depends on your child. My daughter was 18-20 months for her first sleep over and she was fine for about 6 -8 months and then just didn't want to do it anymore. This was at my parents house and my in-laws. She had her first sleepover in about a year this past weekend and we knew she was ready because she told us. That being said my parents live very close, one of the ways we knew she did not want to have sleepovers anymore, aside from the time we went over to pick her back up, my husband and I went out on a date and we had my parents come over to babysit and put her to bed, she was very sad and missing us but did fine and finally got to sleep. Since your parents are away I would try and sleep over at their house with her...or have them come to your house and put her to bed and see how she is. There is no right answer for this question, I think you have to see if you think your child is ready, but also YOU have to be ready. My Son is just over 1 and he has not had a sleepover yet but we are considering for the next couple of months, again my parents are very close, so it is hard to say what I would do in your situation. Since your daughter is four I would try and talk to her about it and explain that Grandma and Grandpa will put her to bed and that you won't be there but she can call you and things like that. I hope this helps a little :) C.

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