I’m a pretty laid back kinda parent.
My kids are allowed to ride their bikes in the street and walk up to a neighbour’s house to ask if Lucy/ Amber/Will/ Toby can come out to play.
On weekends we are pretty relaxed with bedtimes and routines and once we even had cake for dinner, just because well, it was cake.
But the one thing I can’t seem to budge on is sleepovers.
We don’t do sleepovers. There are many reasons but they all lead to the one thing. Sleepovers are just non-negotiable for my three kids.
Now my kids are pretty accepting of that – so far. At the ages of eight-and-a-half, nearly seven and four they just know that’s our gig and they don’t ask or try and negotiate a change.
If fact they don’t even really blink when they are asked. Nope we don’t do sleepovers they say and move on to the next topic.
They accept it without a worry.
But for some strange reason the ones who don’t accept it are the other mums.
Sleepovers are becoming quite a thing in our area, four-year-olds off for the night at their best friend’s house. Groups of eight-year-old boys gathering for movies and popcorn and late nights of chatter…
And each week I am facing the same questions.
Oh why don’t you just let them?
It’s not fair on your kids they are missing out.
What’s wrong with you?
When asked I am quite clear on my rule – we just don’t do them. Sure I say maybe when they are teenagers I might relax that a little but right now it’s just a blanket rule.
While I acknowledge the fact that in the majority of cases children will be perfectly safe, for me there are too many uncontrollable elements, too many things that can go wrong.
The ‘what if’s still linger in my mind.
High profile cases like that of Hey Dad star, Robert Hughes and Rolf Harris flood me with doubt about sleepovers. Statistics like the fact 8 out of 10 cases of abuse are by family friends, family, teachers or trusted acquaintances.