By Priscilla Ross
I never liked sleepovers. Still don’t. I like to sleep in my own bed with everything that helps me sleep around me. If you’ve known me my entire life, this has been true my entire life. From looking at the clock and telling my babysitters "I'm going to bed now, good night”, to turning down plans because they start too late in the evening in my adulthood, I have always intuitively known the importance of sleep. Sometimes to my detriment and I worry that I will rub this trait down to my son. This is a stressor we are both learning to navigate together.
This past Saturday, my son had his first sleepover in months! The last time he had one it was at our house, where I have some control. This time, he was at his friend’s. His very best, BFF, 6 years and running friend’s house. He’s had sleepovers here before but he’s also had some failed sleepovers too. There was the time he got a black lip while they were wrestling, or when they did a hot challenge and he got hot sauce in the eye. And let's not forget the numerous times his friends show him something “scary” late at night and we get the call to come grab him.
No matter how many times he has bumps at a sleepover, I feel like I am beginning to have the tools to help him keep trying again. I guess he’s getting those same tools because he made it through this time! Now I just needed to remind myself he’ll need “soft eyes” today. He went to bed at 1am and had tons of sugar (bio stressors), worried from the tummy ache he had from too much sugar and, as an only child, had to navigate being around a couple of younger peers that “push his buttons” (social stressors). Worry that he may have to wake up friend’s parents as well as his own because he feels uncomfortable and worries of disappointing his friend if he goes home (prosocial stressors).
So, what did we do when we picked him up after lunch, the next day, to drive an hour away to go to his cousin’s 8th birthday party? We used the 5 steps of Self-Reg, and, at the moment, restored. We brought water, a pillow and a soft blanket. We didn’t blare the music and within minutes, my 9 year old was asleep for the entire ride. When he woke up in my sister’s driveway, we didn’t rush him to get up. It didn’t take long for him to get excited to see his cousins. We quickly reminded him that he is tired and to come grab a hug from us at any time to take a break. At meal time, we reminded him how much he didn’t like how he felt from all the sugar the day prior and that there would be cake and ice cream later. He made sure to fill his plate with chicken and 2 kinds of veggies but also not to over fill it. He can come back for more, drink some water, and save room for dessert. He had a great time and was a good sport.
A year ago, things would have gone differently. Through my learning about Self-Reg, my family is benefiting from my knowledge about the importance of the 5 steps. After the sleepover, going to a party, I knew that step 5, RESTORE, was what was needed at that moment. The other steps came into play too and we all successfully got through.
Do I like sleepovers any more? No, I just have to know how to tolerate them.