Information for Preteens: About Sleepovers
Sleeping away from home can be both an exciting and scary experience. It is an opportunity to become more independent and become better friends with the family you are staying with.
Many kids are not used to sleeping in a strange environment – away from their family, usual routine, nightlight, and their own bed – and it is normal to feel homesick and uncomfortable. Learning to enjoy time away from home and appreciate the comfort of your family is an important skill for all kids.
Going on a sleepover for the first time – whether it's your first night away from home or your first sleepover with a certain friend – can make anyone feel uneasy. Not knowing what your experience will be like can cause lots of worries.
Talk to your parents about your fears and they might be able to contact the other family, or you can talk to your friend and find out what the night will be like. Ask what you should bring – if you will need a swimsuit, sleeping bag, money, or anything else. Often just knowing how you will be spending your time can make it much easier to be excited instead of scared about the sleepover.
When you are at someone else's house, things will be different. It's a good idea to keep this thought in your head and to expect the unexpected; this way, you won't be surprised by anything. You can handle tough situations, as well as be respectful of other families' traditions and rules.
Back to top
Feeling homesick is a completely normal feeling. Homesickness occurs if you feel like you want to be in an environment that you are used to, like your home and with your family.
Being away from home can make kids realize how much they appreciate the comforts provided by their home and family. When some people get homesick, they become depressed or anxious while other people get a stomachache, headache, feel physically sick, or just cannot sleep.
Even being away from home for one night can make someone homesick, and they could become even sadder and more uncomfortable if they are unprepared and experience homesickness at sleepaway camp.
The best way to prepare yourself for being away from home for one night or more is to practice. You can try going over to a friend's house, stay late if it's OK with your parents, and get picked up at bedtime so you can go home and sleep in your own bed. By doing this, you know how everything works in another family's house, and you will be more comfortable spending the night there in the future.
If you are anxious about being away overnight, talk with your parents. Let them know how you feel, but don't make a plan for them to come "rescue" you if things get tough. There is always the possibility of calling your parents if thing are too hard to deal with, but first try to cope on your own. If you are only spending one night, try telling yourself, "I will see my parents tomorrow," so it doesn't seem like such a long time – just put things in perspective.
Bring a favorite pair of pajamas, outfit for the next day, or stuffed animal. You can also bring a book and a reading light so you can read in case you cannot sleep. Be the one to ask for a sleepover, but don't have your parents arrange for you to spend the night somewhere where you do not want to.
You can always call your parents to say goodnight and let them know how your evening is going. Parents appreciate hearing from you, and it will help them relax if they know you are safe and having a good time.
If you do get homesick, try to take your mind off it. Think positive thoughts and have a fun time with your friend; focus on the activity you are doing together.
Sleeping over at someone's house can be tons of fun. You probably will miss something about home, but just remember that this is a completely normal feeling, and it does not have to get in the way of having an awesome time with a friend.
Back to top
high school student writer
Below are links the author accessed when researching this topic. PAMF does not sponsor or endorse any of these sites, nor does PAMF guarantee the accuracy of the information contained on them.
Do's and Don'ts: Preparing Your Child for the First Overnight Stay with a Friend. NewsForParents.org.
Preventing and Treating Homesickness. American Academy of Pediatrics.
Reviewed by: Adolescent Interest Group
Last reviewed: August 2013