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How to have successful sleepovers with your grandchildren

Grandchildren on a sleepover

There is something truly magical about the relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren, and overnight trips can often help to further cement that relationship. In this guide, you will discover tips for how you can host a memorable sleepover for your grandchildren. We have also provided answers to questions parents may have about sleepovers with grandparents.

Tips and advice for grandparents

Plan fun snack times

Something savoury

Boiled eggs and finger soldiers

Boiled eggs and soldiers, otherwise affectionately known as ‘dippy eggs’, are wholesome and tasty teatime meals that don’t require much effort or prep time. This meal is ideal for those who require the help of mobility equipment such as a curved stairlift because you don’t need to spend long on your feet in the kitchen preparing the food.

To make the dippy eggs extra special, you can draw some colourful and funny faces on the shells for younger children or use a variety of alternative soldiers to dip into the eggs, such as sausages or asparagus wrapped in streaky bacon.

Claire from Life, Love and Dirty Dishes told us how a simple dippy egg and soldier supper holds fond memories of sleepovers at her grandparents’ house: “I used to love sleepovers at my grandparents’ house when I was a child. My grandad made the best boiled eggs and soldiers ever and now my children in turn love sleepovers at my parents’ house, and not least because they get spoilt, and Nana reads them tons of bedtime stories. My parents love having them, and my children have an incredible bond with them.”

Something sweet

A child’s diet should be full of healthy food, which is beneficial to their health and overall well-being. However, as a special treat, you could spend time creating a fun snack together before snuggling up for a relaxed evening. Jaclyn from Crayons and Cravings says: “A special treat that the kids can help make would create even more terrific memories. The children would have a blast making their own ice-cream sundaes or decorating cupcakes with as much icing and sprinkles as their little heart's desire.”

Make your ice-cream sundaes extra special by using a variety of delicious ingredients. For example, an Eton Mess sundae consists of a broken piece of meringue, freshly sliced strawberries and strawberry or vanilla ice cream. Or try a ‘sweet tooth sundae’, which incorporates generous chunks of your grandchild’s favourite chocolates or sweets - things like gummy bears, Mars Bar chunks and Maltesers always go down a treat. Not only will your grandchildren enjoy letting their creativity flow, but they will also love sharing their concoction with you.

As well as creating a delectable dessert, we also asked Jaclyn why she thinks sleepovers are an important part of a grandparent and grandchild relationship: “I have the most wonderful memories of spending the night at my grandparents’ house when I was a little girl. Now that I am grown and have my own child, I want my son to enjoy time with his grandparents and create memories that he can cherish for a lifetime.”

Make fresh popcorn and choose a film

Grandad and grandson watching a film

Fill your home with the incredible aroma of freshly made popcorn and settle down to watch a movie of your grandchild’s choice. This can be a great way to settle down for the evening as well as spend some quality time together as Emma from Me and B Make Tea explains: “My son absolutely loves having a sleepover with his grandparents. He is always excited about spending time with them, and Grandma loves to treat him. Some of the best times are spent snuggling on the sofa with a good film and some popcorn.”

You can either buy some corn kernels to make your own popcorn or buy a microwave bag to make the process even easier. Either way, both varieties have a long shelf life and are great snacks to keep in the pantry for future sleepovers.

Making your own popcorn from scratch is simple and another great activity your grandchildren can help with. Place about two tablespoons of oil into a large saucepan and add in half a cup of corn kernels. Turn the heat to high, cover the pan with a lid and wait for the popping sound to stop. Give your saucepan a good shake and let the popped corn sit to cool for about a minute.

Once your grandchild has selected their film and the corn is popped, all that’s left to do is snuggle under a cosy blanket and unwind for the evening.

READ ALSO: Best movies for grandparents

Reminders of home

While sleeping over at your house will no doubt fill your grandchildren with tremendous amounts of excitement, it can also be a major milestone if this is their first time sleeping away from home. Feeling homesick is normal for children when they are away from home, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t want to be spending time with you. Children of all ages can experience homesickness, but it is more likely to strike younger children and little ones who haven’t spent a night away from home before.

Encouraging your grandchildren to bring something which reminds them of home can be a great way to help ease their homesickness. Children respond well to sensory cues; things that they can see, smell or hear can make a world of difference and make a new environment feel familiar. Perhaps your grandchild could bring their favourite cuddly toy or pillow, or an item of mum or dad’s clothing, such as a cardigan or jumper, which can also do the trick.

Elaine from Entertaining Elliot is a mum of two and told us that her children often take familiar items to sleepovers: “My children adore going to their grandparents’ house for a sleepover, and half the fun is packing their little suitcases with their favourite teddies. They love the novelty of Nanny and Grandad reading their bedtime story, and they love creeping into their bed the next morning for a big cuddle.”

Stick to their normal bedtime routine as much as possible

Grandmother reads to grandaughter

While routine can often go out of the window during a sleepover, it can be beneficial to try and keep an element of normality when your grandchildren visit.

Things like having meals, stories and ‘lights out’ at similar times as they would at home can help create a calm and relaxed atmosphere, especially for younger grandchildren. As Elaine explains:

“My top tip for grandparents would be to stick to the routine as well as they can. I know when my children go to their grandparents for a sleepover, they are always very excited and if they stay up late as a treat, it will be a battle getting them to sleep. Rather than being tired and willing to go to bed, they end up over-tired as well as over-stimulated and, more often than not, end up waking up early the next morning. To ensure everyone gets a decent night's sleep, my mum now makes sure they go to bed around their normal time and things run more smoothly.”

Kate from the blog Refined Pose also encourages maintaining a sense of the typical bedtime routine: “My best advice is to allow treats, of course, but not a very late night. Routine remains important, perhaps even more so when children are not in familiar surroundings with their parents.

“Overnight stays with grandparents are particularly special occasions because they allow a more profound bond to form. Children are at their most dependent and vulnerable, and grandparents get to step in and temporarily experience being the one to placate and settle night-time worries. It's a huge but rewarding responsibility.”

READ ALSO: Grandparent's checklist for visiting toddlers

Sleepovers can give grandparents a new lease of life

While your grandchildren will no doubt love their time with you, looking after them can also be hugely rewarding, as Emma from Fashion-Mommy explains: “Sleepovers are a wonderful opportunity for grandparents to bond with their grandchildren. I think spending time with grandchildren can often give a nan and grandad a new lease of life, as well as a new perspective; it can basically help keep them young.”

Being a grandparent is a huge responsibility, but spending time with them can help keep you active both physically and mentally. From a leisurely after-supper stroll in your local park to helping with homework or reading bedtime stories, spending time with your grandchildren can be rewarding and give you mental stimulation.

Emma’s son Joe often enjoys sleepovers at his grandparents’ home: “My parents have amazing sleepovers for my boy as they have decorated one of their spare bedrooms just for him to give him his own space. They have made sure the room has a nightlight and a selection of specially chosen bedtime stories. At Christmas, they even got a second-hand PS3 so Grandad could play FIFA with him. Joe really looks forward to sleepovers and the chance to spend some quality time with Nan and Grandad, and another opportunity to beat Grandad at FIFA once again”.

Be prepared

Being prepared for every eventuality is an important piece of advice that grandmother Nickie O’Hara says could help make sleepovers run smoothly: “Having small people in the house once in a blue moon is a shock to the system. You will become that helicopter parent you never wanted to be because you are scared that any disaster will happen on your watch. Regardless of feeling on edge, you will have the best time. It's the perfect excuse to have treats and spend quality time with your grandchildren so that you can create a special relationship and extra-special memories with them.”

To prepare for their impending arrival, make sure you have enough food, drinks and snacks at home. You could also ask the parents to provide things like towels, Calpol, a nightlight and their favourite bedtime book to help make the night go by without a hitch.

Making memories

Grandparents playing with grandchild

Time goes by, and children grow up quickly, and while sleepovers can sometimes be a necessity if the parents have an engagement or a work-related appointment, overnight stays are all about making memories, as Thena from the Hodge Podge Hippie told us:

“Remember that it’s all about making memories. Create with them, go outside and engage with them, and don’t forget to spoil them as well. Bake that cake, make that caramel popcorn, go outside and play in the mud. Everything is on limits when it comes to a sleepover with grandparents. Not only will they have an absolute blast, but they’ll remember those moments for the rest of their life.”

The relationship between a grandparent and their grandchildren is precious and unique. Taking the time to further enhance it with sleepovers can help bring it to another level and will create memories that can truly last a lifetime.

READ ALSO: How to preserve your memories for future generations

FAQ about sleepovers with grandparents

Child asleep in bed

Do you have questions about sleepovers with grandparents? Wondering what the appropriate age is for sleepovers with grandparents? Take a look a look at the answers to some frequently asked questions below.

Are sleepovers healthy and can children sleep over at a grandparent’s house?

Having your child sleep over at a grandparent’s house can be a great idea if their grandparent is open to it. Sleepovers have numerous benefits for a child, such as helping them develop independence and learning to adapt to new routines. Children will also have the chance to bond with their grandparents in a unique and powerful way.

At what age can a baby sleepover at a grandparents’ house?

Leaving your baby overnight can be difficult, and the right time for a baby’s first sleepover with grandparents is complicated. It all depends on your unique situation. For example, newborns rely on their mothers throughout the night, especially when breastfeeding. Most parents don’t feel comfortable leaving their baby until after the first four to nine months. However, you could consider going with your baby for a sleepover at their grandparents until they are older.

What age is OK for a sleepover with grandparents?

The appropriate age for sleepovers with grandparents depends on the child in question. There is no strict rule about the right age for sleepovers, as some children may be able to handle it, while others might struggle. Assess your children individually; it could be that your four-year-old will be ready for a sleepover with grandparents, but your eight-year-old is not.

What can you do at a sleepover with grandparents?

There are lots of fun activities for children to enjoy on sleepovers with grandparents. Board games are a safe choice, and cuddling up on the sofa to watch a family-friendly movie can be great fun. You could also try activities like baking, crafting, and video games.

How to prepare toddlers for a first sleepover at their grandparents?

It can be helpful to get your toddler used to their grandparent’s house before they sleep over so that it feels familiar and safe to them. So, plan a few day visits before taking the next step. Communicate when you will be taking them home again after the sleepover, and make sure you pack all the items they might need, including favourite toys and comforts to help them settle in.

Where should a toddler sleep at a grandparent’s house?

Ideally, a toddler will have a comfortable and familiar bedroom to sleep in at a grandparent’s house. It should be a room that is safe, child-friendly, and relatively near the grandparent’s bedroom. The grandparents might want to invest in a travel cot or crib for when the child is young. Or the parents can leave their travel cot with the grandparents for the duration of the sleepover.

How do I get my baby to sleep at the grandparents’ house?

Getting babies to sleep at night can be difficult at the best of times, but what about taking a baby for a sleepover with grandparents? Creating a similar environment to what they experience at home is important. Ensure the room is dark and at a comfortable temperature and that you keep to a consistent sleeping space. If you have been able to establish bedtime routines at home, try to replicate these at the grandparent’s house. For example, putting them down to sleep at the usual times and giving them a bath and a story before bed etc.

READ ALSO: Fun ideas for summer sleepovers with your grandchildren

Key takeaways for sleepovers with grandparents

  • Provide some fun snacks to enjoy.
  • Create a cosy atmosphere with a movie.
  • Encourage grandchildren to bring familiar items to ease potential homesickness.
  • Maintain a sense of normality by sticking to regular bedtime routines.
  • Sleepovers with grandchildren can be rewarding and mentally stimulating for grandparents.
  • Sleepovers are about creating lasting memories, engaging in activities and enjoying quality time together.
  • Sleepovers can benefit children by fostering independence and helping them bond with grandparents.
  • The appropriate age for a sleepover depends on the child and their individual development.
  • Plan day visits to make the grandparent's house familiar, communicate plans, and pack comforting items.
  • A toddler should sleep in a safe and child-friendly room near the grandparents.
  • Maintaining bedtime routines will help your baby sleep at their grandparent's house.

We hope this guide helps you to plan for fun sleepovers with grandchildren and grandparents. These experiences can be truly magical and create lasting memories that will be treasured forever. For more tips and advice, visit our news page.

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