Sleepovers: our place or theirs?

Had an interesting experience last weekend with my 13yo daughter, A-. All day she’d been talking about having her pal over to our place for a sleepover, and her friend had joined us for the day’s activities (she’s a delightful addition to the family and always welcome).
Late afternoon we talked about how we were one bed mattress short for things to work: We have three mattresses and one air mattress but adding her would make five and unless the girls were willing to share A-‘s (big) bed, we needed to get an additional bed.
That’s what they wanted, no problem, so we stopped by Linen’s Etc and I spent $200 buying a new aerobed + two anti-allergenic blankets on 50% off sale (we needed more blankets anyway) along with a hot air popper.
On the way home, A- asks “can we watch a movie tonight, Daddy?” to which I said “no, that’s not going to work out.”
She was clearly not too happy with that answer and after a moment’s thought…

… she said “oh, then we’ll sleep over at X’s house instead.” [Obviously her friend is not called “X” but I am just protecting her identity because, well, I’m a bit paranoid] The 5yo pops up and says “then why did Daddy just buy that new bed?”
I smiled inside, she’d said what I was thinking. But I like to be flexible and supportive, so my response was “No worries about the bed, we needed a spare mattress anyway. You can go over to X’s house tonight if you’d like, but I hope it’s not because you can watch a movie at her house and not ours…”
A- answered, as you would expect, “No, that’s not why. Her house is just more fun…”
Now the reality of what was transpiring, in my mind, was that our little place has insufficient space for everyone, so A- ends up sharing her bedroom with her little brother who is 9. They get along really well, but still, she has a cool room that just isn’t all hers. Not so fun, but a constraint of our small place.
I did tell her “no computer time, no email, no games.” to which she agreed and stuck to: she’s trustworthy, thankfully. She also skipped video games, which they’ll often play late into the evening (Nintendo Wii, if you’re curious), but they did watch a movie.
I’m fine with how things worked out, but a niggling part of me still wonders how to decide which house should host sleepovers when the two go back and forth with frequency? If the two girls would have stayed at my place, my son would have had the spare bed and slept in my room, so they would have had their own space, but X is the youngest in her family and their living situation is definitely different to ours where A- is the oldest and constantly surrounded by non-self-sufficient younger siblings. I can understand her desire to escape and relax with adults!
On the other hand, I like the time with my girl and since Linda and my schedule has the kids with me on weekends, she never experiences sleepovers taking away from her time with the children the way that I do when they’re with me, but mobile.
So should I insist that 50% of the sleepovers happen at my place and work out the logistics? Or should I keep my eye on the big picture, the long run, and not worry about it as long as I get some time with my daughter?
For the record, we’re planning a sleepover this Saturday night, to include a movie. Their choice? Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark. I’m looking forward to watching them watch it!

2 comments on “Sleepovers: our place or theirs?

  1. As a child of divorce I can honestly say you will be better off in the long run if you let her spend the night with her friends. Their lives are already disrupted by going back and forth. I do think it would be great if you told her how much she meant to you and that you don’t want to lose that time with her, so she also verbally hears how much you love her, it will stay with her forever, but in the long run your support of her social activities will get you much farther. Then your time together is a choice.

  2. Surely this is something you need to be negotiating with X and her parents? Particularly her parents, because they are the ones who own the home and should be the ones who get final say in who is invited over when, but also with X, who may want to be the one coming over here from time to time. As understandable as it is that your daughter wants to spend time in a different house, she needs to learn that she can’t just foist herself on other people as and when it suits her, and she should not be given the message that it’s perfectly OK for her to be always the guest and never the hostess just because that suits her.
    (If both girls and X’s parents are all happy with all or the majority of the sleepovers being over there, then I would encourage her to come up with some other way to thank them other than inviting X back – a small gift or a thoughtful note to the parents thanking them for the trouble. It’s always good to learn not to take others for granted.)

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