Spending the night at a friend’s house is the epitome of fun for a child (and the night off for you isn’t too shabby either). Here are some things to help you get them ready for their first night away.
So you’ve decided that your child is ready to spend their first night at a friend’s house. Maybe this is their first time away from home, or maybe they’ve spent various nights away with different family members. In either case, being away from surroundings they are used to can be a little disconcerting, so it’s important to set the expectation that your child is able to leave at any time. Make sure that your child understands that no matter what time it is, or how long they have stayed, if they are ready to leave, they should call you and you will come to get them. You may even choose to enlist a no questions asked policy so that they know they don’t have to have a reason to come home.
It’s also a good idea to remind your child of their manners. They should follow the other parent’s instructions and rules at all times, and don’t do anything at their friend’s house they would not be allowed to do at home.
Before allowing your child to spend time at another child’s house, it is important that you meet with that child’s parent or guardian. Don’t be shy about asking them questions such as who lives in the home, where will the children sleep, do they keep drugs/alcohol or weapons in the home, do they have plans for the evening? It may seem intrusive, but just remember that it’s better safe than sorry, and you have a right to feel safe with where your child is sleeping. You may even offer to return the favor and let the kids spend the night at your home, and then you will have to answer the same questions. This is also the ideal time to make the other parent aware of any rules you have for your child, or things they should be aware of like allergies. Try not to bombard the host with rules; just stick the most important things.
Once you’ve got all of the above-ground rules down, make sure your child has everything they need to have a good time.
Here are the basics:
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Hairbrush or comb
Any medicine they take
Money (leave this with the guardian if the child is too young)
Sleeping bag and pillow (if needed)
Games and toys (be sure to write their name on their things and write a list of what they take so you can make sure they bring it home)
After dropping your kid off, don’t call every hour to check-in. Try to limit your check ins to once at a reasonable hour per day. And try to relax! Your kid is probably fine and having a blast.