The first night away from home is a BIG DEAL for both parents and child. Last week, our son spent his first night away from home. He was with his aunt (and adores his older cousins), so we knew he was in good hands, but we still prepared him for the experience. Here are some tips that worked for us.
1. Wait until your child expresses an interest to stay overnight.
Child development experts recommend that you wait until your kid wants to spend the night somewhere else, and we think that’s great advice. It shows a readiness for time away from the parents and an excitement for trying new things.
2. Let your child know what to expect.
For very young children, there can be some confusion about who’s staying and who’s not. Explain to your child that he will be staying without Mommy and Daddy. Let him know that he’ll sleep in a different bed, will be eating different foods and will have a different routine for the night.
3. Send comfort objects.
Your child will already experience big changes, so try to make some things as routine and comfortable as possible. Send along his favorite pair of pajamas and a special toy. Let him wear his favorite clothes. He’ll feel more confident if some things are the same.
4. Tell your child’s it’s okay to change his mind.
Let your kid know that it’s okay to call you to come and get him if he wants to come home. You need to make sure that it’s a positive experience, and making your child stay when he’s upset can ruin all the fun he’s had. Don’t get upset if your child has had enough after a few hours—just go and pick him up with a smile.
5. Praise your child for trying.
Whether your child stays the entire night or just a few hours, praise your child for giving it a try. After all, even some adults have a hard time sleeping away from home.
Our son’s first night away from home was a success. He stayed until 6 am before calling us to pick him up. He’s already asked to do it again soon.
How did you prepare your child for the first night away?