Can you imagine it? The house to yourself and your partner as your child sleeps over at the grandparent’s house. Delighted and stress-free? Or is this a nerve-racking scenario?
I admit, the first time you leave your child overnight with someone else, it is a big deal. It means trusting someone else with your child’s sleep, but it also means a night of freedom! Most parents find that the first sleepover is easiest if you schedule it with grandma and grandpa.
A sleepover at the Grandparents doesn’t have to be scary; it can be a magical experience. It’s a special time for your parents and your child. A chance to strengthen their bond.
Before you schedule a sleepover at the grandparents.
Step 1: Coach Your Child
To set your child and your parents up for success, your child should be sleeping independently through the night. That means teaching your child the skills to fall back asleep on their own when they wake in the night.
If your child hasn’t learned the skills to sleep through the night, we’d love to chat to discuss what sleep issues you’re struggling with.
Step 2: Coach Grandma and Grandpa
Have a conversation with your parents and outline your nap and bedtime schedules. Some grandparents are going to be wonderful and fully competent, so this will be an easy conversation as they’re completely onboard with whatever you tell them.
Other grandparents will default to their entrenched views of parenting. I.e. What they did with you growing up. “Your living proof of their expertise, so why change?”
With the different grandparenting styles, there is a balancing act between respecting your child’s sleep schedule and honoring your parent’s role. Here are 5 tips to help you with this process.
5 Tips to Make Sleepovers A Success
Tip 1 – Respect Your Elders
Your parents are experienced. They’ve gone through the no-sleep periods and the blissful night of when you finally slept through the night. Yes, still communicate the ground rules for your child, but do it in a respectful way that demonstrates confidence in their abilities. Explaining the sleep schedule to your parents is different than your teenage babysitter.
Tip 2 – Be Authentic
Your parents have experienced the same highs and lows of parenthood, so be honest with them about your struggles. Explain how difficult it was before your child was sleeping independently through the night. How waking up every hour was stressful and that’s why you’ve worked hard to teach your child the skills to sleep all night long. When they understand the investment that you’ve made into solving your sleep struggles, they can empathize and be committed to your routine.
Tip 3 – Explain the Incentives
The benefits of a well-rested child isn’t just that you and the grandparent will get more sleep at night, it also means a healthier, happier child the next day.
We all know that Grandparents have a tendency to keep your child up a little longer in order to spend more time with them. The counter to this is to gently remind them of the long-game – that keeping to the schedule, means more cuddles and giggles the next day.
Also, if your parents tend to keep your child up late and when you pick up an overtired and cranky child the next day, you’ll become less and less likely to schedule future sleepovers.
Tip 4 – Share Your Experience
Share the life-changing experience sleep training has had for your family. Your child’s mood instantly improves, and it makes parenting so much more enjoyable. Let your parents know how much more gratifying the whole sleepover will be if their grandchild sticks to the schedule. If you just dictate the schedule, you’re not appealing to the caring, nurturing side of grandma and grandpa.
Tip 5 – Equate Sleeping With Feeding
We all know that grandmas love to make sure their grandkids don’t leave hungry. Have your ever left your grandparents house without a Tupperware of leftovers? If you equate the importance of sleep with feeding, you instantly show that sleep is a priority. Your parents will come to understand how important sleep is to you and your family.
What To Do After The Sleepover
I’ll be honest, even after you’ve established the rules and a mutual understanding about sleep, your parents might be guilty of a wee bit of sabotage. They won’t be able to resist the cries in the night and may feed them or rock them back to sleep.
I want to assure you that there is no need to panic. Just like children at daycare, your child is surprisingly adept at recognizing different sleeping environments and the different rules associated with them. So, just because your mom fed your child, it doesn’t mean that they will revert back to this sleep prop at home.
If your child has developed strong sleep skills, they will be back to routine quickly at home.
Are you struggling with this part – stage one of getting ready for sleepovers at the grandparents? Want to learn more about how to teach independent sleep skills? Schedule your free, no-obligation call below.