Amy had her first sleep over this week. Sleepovers have been a topic of conversation in the March Household for some time and I have always been a bit hesitant. I know how apprehensive Amy can get when she can’t sleep and was concerned how she would manage if she didn’t have anyone she felt she could call upon. I worry that this would put pressure on her friendships or increase her anxiety levels. I was aware that we would be best off having one of her friends over to stay first but if I’m honest, I really didn’t want to. The thought of extra children for an extended period of time is not my idea of fun. And then Josie would also want a friend over and she is not very accepting of her position of youngest sibling or the idea of waiting till she is older for anything!
The issue was forced when one of Amy’s friends invited her for a sleepover for her birthday. After discussion with Mr March, we decided that we had to give it a go. We felt that Amy would be very upset if she couldn’t go, and, as this friend seems to have a positive impact on Amy, we didn’t want this to affect their friendship.
We talked with Amy about what might be difficult about sleeping at a friend’s house. Her biggest concern was that she would wake up before the rest of the household, so she decided to take some books to read to occupy her and help her keep calm. We made sure she had all the things she’d need including her favourite teddy bear, hair brush (she has become quite particular about her hair) and a selection of clothes for the morning. She was still very anxious however and we had a day of giddy behaviour and arguments. With some trepidation, we waved her off.
The next morning seemed to really drag as we waited for her to come home. She came in and gave me a massive cuddle, then, as soon as I closed the door, she burst into sobs. She was upset that they had slept on the sofas in the lounge and I recalled how she remembers being dropped off by her birth mum with family and made to sleep on their sofas. So I held her and told her I understood that she must have felt so sad and scared and we talked about why. I could have kicked myself for not asking where they were going to sleep!
Amy also told me they hadn’t slept all night (though I think this was an exaggeration)! I asked her what she had enjoyed about the sleep over and she enjoyed being at her friend’s house, playing with her friend and her baby brother, doing her nails and a whole host of other things. ‘So would you go again?’ I asked. ‘Oh yes’ said Amy. She then did something she has only done a couple of times in her 3 years with us. She went to bed for a nap!
That evening we were still discussing whether we had done the right thing and in the end we realised that there are going to be lots of occasions in life that Amy is going to find difficult. And as much as we want to, we can’t protect her from all of them. What we need to do is prepare her to manage when life becomes more stressful and help her develop ways to cope.