Maddie and Heather C. take a look at the issue of kids, especially pre-K ones, spending the night away from home. Weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.
Why My Kid Spends the Night(s) Away
As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am a big fan of the BabyCenter Community.
Imagine my surprise when so many people disagreed with me when it comes to spending the night/nights away from my kiddo! I was astonished at how many women said that they had never spent a single night away from their kids.
My son has been spending the night with my mom since he was just a few months old. We lived with her at the time and if my husband and myself had something to do, he stayed with my mom. He has spent countless weekends with my mother-in-law, who lives about an hour and a half north of us. When he was getting ready to turn 2, he even spent a whole week with my dad, who was about 8 hours away.
Now that my dad lives closer, he has been spending an occasional weekend with him as well. It's honestly a toss-up as to which set of grandparents is his favorite. Any time I tell him that he will be spending a night or weekend with one of his grandparents, he gets so excited! I have learned not to tell him until the day of, or he will ask me 30,000 times a day if it's time to go yet. I think he loves all of the attention they shower on him!
If he's at home, we are always trying to do laundry, clean up, pay bills, etc. For grandparents, if they go a weekend without doing laundry, it's no big deal. They just play!
I really think that this has led to him cultivating a great relationship with all of his grandparents. I also can't imagine never having a break for a night. Perhaps I am less "attached" to my son than some parents.But I am human, too! I need time to myself to function.
I don't think that being a mom means that you have to be a martyr. Do some moms really not need time to themselves?
I am curious how other moms feel about this. Do you take time away from your kids? Does it help you rejuvenate?
When Are Kids (And Moms) Ready For Overnights?
By Heather C.
How old was your child the first time you spent a night without them? What did you do that night? How did you feel? My daughter was 2 years, 3 months old. We left her with my parents to take a weekend trip. I was 4 months pregnant with our twin daughters. We NEEDED time to ourselves before their arrival.
During the day, we kept ourselves busy with touristy things. We enjoyed peaceful lunches and dinners without a kids menu and crayons. We took walks without needing to push a stroller. We showered together. We spent hours in bed. It was important for my husband and I to have this time. We frequented date afternoons and had had plenty of dinners sans Lillian but this was different.
Then nighttime would fall and I missed her. I missed tucking her in; giving her a kiss “Goodnight.” I talked to her on the phone and she told me about the new doll Nana and Papa bought her. She was in good hands and was having a lot of fun but I missed her.
The slumber party was great for her but was it good for us? It was nice to have some quiet time but for two years our lives hadn’t been quiet and I didn’t have a problem with that! When I desperately wanted to be a parent, I signed up to not have a lot of quiet time.
I remember as far back as being 6 or 7 years old spending the night at my cousins’ houses or with my grandma. I loved those slumber parties. I was old enough to take care of myself. I was capable of having fun and enjoying myself. I wasn’t a burden to those I was spending the night with. I do not think that parents should never allow these overnight stays.
I agree that it’s really important for parents to continue date nights or time away from their children but I think there are limits with small children. I think overnights are too much if your child is not quite ready. Here are some things to look for:
1. Does your child sleep through the night? All children have nightmares or need to use the restroom every once in awhile but an infant or toddler that still needs to be fed in the middle of the night should not spend the night with someone other than her parents just for fun. The child is comforted by this middle of the night feeding. It is not just about the bottle or nursing session they are getting but reassurance that mom or dad is still near. Plus, the load of waking up in the middle of the night is not to be taken lightly. It takes weeks for new moms to get used to this concept. You want your babysitter to be able to function the next day, right?
2. Has your child spent time away from you during the day? Maybe they go to a daycare or babysitter already. Or maybe you’ve left them with Grandma while you run errands or take a nap. As long as they have developed that self-calming that they can only do when you are not there. Children get very attached to their parents. If the first time they are away from their parents is not only for more than just the time it takes for dinner and a movie but also includes spending the night in a bed and room that isn’t theirs, it makes the time away that much harder.
3. Make sure your child is old enough to recognize the people she will be with but also the place she will be staying. Make sure she has her favorite blankets and pillows. Make sure there is a place for her. Your child should feel like they are a part of the home they are going to just as much as they are a part of their own home.
I think it goes without saying that these “rules” do not apply to everyone. There are work situations and emergency situations that may result in having to spend time away from your child sooner than you want to. I personally was faced with this just one month after that little trip out of town. I was placed on bed rest AT THE HOSPITAL.
I went from spending every day, every night with my daughter to only getting to see her a couple hours a day, a couple days a week for two months! There was nothing enjoyable about this for either of us. She missed me. I missed her. It was complete torture. Then when her sisters were born, they spent 30 days in the NICU. I’ve never experienced a pain greater than having to leave the hospital, no longer pregnant, recovering from a c-section with no babies in my arms.
What do you think? Does my experience impact wanting to let my daughters stay the night somewhere without me? Or are other moms thinking the same thing, that their child simply is not ready yet? Is a date night worth the stress your child may be internalizing from being apart from you?
You can reach Maddie by emailing her at email@example.com.
You can reach Heather by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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