How do you know when your child is old enough to sleep out? Old enough in the sense that they make the decision for themselves, understanding that it means they won’t see mom and dad for the WHOLE night, until the sun shines the next day? My kids have only spent the night away from me, at my parents home. I know that they feel as safe and secure with my mom, as they do with me. In fact, Liam spent 10 days with my parents in Durban when he was about 18 months old, this gave me time to bond with Hannah, who was only three months old at the time and it also gave him a chance to be the one and only favourite again and he basked in the attention. Moreover, it gave me the much needed reprieve from my toddler who was not yet used to having a little sister who also demanded my attention ALL the time, and his transition to big brother was taking its toll on the whole family. But other than with my parents, Liam hadn’t slept out before. So when he announced that he wanted to sleep by Nana’s house (his other granny), I was taken aback, and a little amused because I didn’t think he’d go through with it.
The husband and I agreed that there was no harm in letting him spend the night out, he loves his Nana to bits, and we were close enough to make the midnight drive, if we received a distressed phone call from Nana. And because they don’t get to see their grandparents that often, I know that both the kids and the grandparents really treasure their time together. So I dutifully packed his overnight bag, I kept explaining that I’d only see him the next day, when the sun came up and that he’d sleep in Nana’s bed and that the rest of us wouldn’t be there; he seemed un-phased and blissfully happy at the thought of leaving us behind. We dropped him off, and I had to physically restrain myself from giving Nana a lecture on how to care for my baby. Nana had raised three children quite capably and I married one of them, so she kinda knows what she’s doing.
Once home, I sat with my phone in my lap, almost willing it to ring. Eventually I messaged Nana to ask how Liam was doing, she replied that he was “gone to the world.” Wow, she was good, he had said good night and went to sleep without a fuss, Nana reported. Whereas we had to sing, dance and put on an entire theatrical performance before Liam would go to bed. I put my phone on vibrate and placed it under my pillow, but we received no late night distressed calls.
He called me the next morning, and I felt hot tears welling up behind my eyes when I heard his voice (silly I know, but I missed him!!). He was fine, he told me he had picked flowers for me in Nana’s garden and that he was eating his porridge and that he would see me later and then he put the phone down in my ear. Nice. No I LOVE YOU, no I MISS YOU. Nothing!
Eventually I begged the husband to go and fetch him because I missed him so much. I didn’t want to go; I didn’t want my mother in law to see me cry like a sissy when I huggled (cross between a hug and a cuddle) my boy. When he arrived home, it was evident that he wasn’t too thrilled to be back. He gave me his cheek, side glanced at his sister who had CLEARLY missed him, as she tried to claw at him for a huggle and he asked where his bike was. Undoubtedly, he didn’t miss us, like we had missed him.
So the answer is simple, your child is ready to sleep out, when he says he is! I underestimate my kids; they do something new every day, they far outrun my expectations, so much so, that I actually feel guilty for not giving them more credit. So another bittersweet moment as we tick off another milestone reached for my big boy!
Good job Liam!