A GRAND Sleepover


The chance to retreat to their grandparent’s house for an overnight or weekend visit is a time-honored tradition enjoyed by countless grandchildren. Anxious grandparents and eager grandchildren alike know that spending a weekend together can be exciting and exhilarating. Hosting your grandchildren for the night or a weekend slumber party can also be challenging and stressful when everyone is not prepared.

Rest Up
Make sure everyone is mentally and physically prepared to increase the success rate of the weekend or overnight visit. “Don’t plan a sleepover weekend when grandparents or kids are overtired or under the weather as it’s harder to deal with stress when Grandma has no reserve,” says pediatrician and author, Cathryn Tobin, M.D., of Toronto, Canada. Being well rested will ensure everyone is ready for the burst of playful energy and that your child can experience all of the wonderful doting attention he’s looking forward to.

Avoid Frenzy
Drop-off and pick-up times can be the most stressful for everyone embarking on a grand weekend. “I always make sure my kids are packed and ready to go on time,” says Tess Nagel of Baldwinsville, N.Y. Make sure your children are ready to go at the appointed time so they know what to expect out of the weekend and when to expect it.

Start Slowly
A short overnight visit is best if there is any concern with your child’s apprehension. Spending a long day together prior to the sleepover is also a great transition to an overnight visit. “Your child will be better prepared to be away from home and to rely on Grandma for primary care,” notes child advocate specialist and recent first-time grandmother, Diana Derby of Crystal Lake, Ill. Having the chance to interact one-on-one at Grandma and Grandpa’s house without his parents present will give your child a glimpse into what to expect during an overnight or weekend visit.

Be Positive
“Set the stage for success by approaching the visit with enthusiasm and a positive attitude,” adds. Dr. Tobin. When dropping him off, make sure to remain positive about the time he’ll spend with his grandparents instead of focusing on what or who he might be missing. Although they’re delivered with heartfelt sincerity, hearing comments like “Mommy will miss you so much” can elevate a child’s stress level and spark a bout of separation anxiety.

Stock up on Supplies
Keeping a few items such as spare underwear or a tube of his favorite toothpaste at Grandma’s can turn a weekend visit into time spent at a second home. “My grandchildren feel like this is their home, too, because a part of them is always here,” adds grandmother of five Liz Deluca of Baton Rogue, La. Keeping a duplicate favorite game, stuffed animal or doll at your parent’s house prevents the need to shuttle treasured items back and forth and ensures your child will feel comfortable being surrounded by the comforts of home.

Stay in Touch
Reassure your children of your continued presence with scheduled calls to say hello or to offer updates on all the fun. By adhering to the pre-arranged call times, you won’t intrude on the time spent with Grandma, but will still offer loving support.

Nightmares Beware
It is important to discuss how to handle nightmares, bedwetting or sleeplessness issues with your parents prior to having your child overnight. “This way, you’ll all be in agreement on what to do if the child is crying during the night,” adds Derby. Discussing the planned resolution with older children instills a sense of empowerment and an added dose of reassurance to hopefully stave off nighttime troubles.

Don’t be surprised if your child isn’t ready to come home as the weekend draws to a close! Your efforts to plan a wonderful weekend are sure to create lifelong memories that everyone will cherish forever.

Five fabulous and fun activities to do with your grandchildren!
1. Make a scrapbook out of events from the weekend. Include labels of food prepared together or eaten, photos or drawings of activities and a letter written to each other commemorating the weekend.
2. Experiment with new recipes. Take turns selecting recipes that neither of you have tried to create a special event shared together.
3. Start a new hobby together. Exploring the world of coin collecting, photography or other mutually interesting hobbies gives you a common interest and strengthens the bond with your grandchild.
4. Share your family’s history. Teach your grandchild about your childhood, your family’s lineage or culture.
5. Tap into each other’s talents. Take turns teaching each other something that the other doesn’t know. From foreign languages to dinosaur facts, you’re guaranteed to gain insight into each other.

Gina Roberts-Grey is a freelance writer and mom.

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