My younger daughter, age 5, was going to her cousins' home for her very first sleepover, ever. She had spent lots of time there before and always had a good time. Her big sister was also going. I really had no worries about how it would go — an advantage of already having gone through my older daughter's first sleepover years ago. This was, however, another kind of first — my husband and I were going to have our very first night at home without any kids since they had entered our lives.
My sister lives across town, and we live in a big town – it's a good 45 minutes between us when there is no traffic. We left our girls, their cousins, my sister and brother-in-law without any drama. This was going to be easy! I could hardly believe our luck!
My husband and I decided to go catch a movie on our side of town to begin our ‘first night' together alone in more than 8 years! But just as we were parking, my cell phone rang. My sister's name showed up on my phone. Uh-oh.
“Hello?” I answered anxiously. I was suddenly flashing back to my older daughter's first sleepover where I had to pick her up close to midnight because she said that she wouldn't be able to sleep away from home. I didn't have any Hand in Hand tools back then and so I drove out in my pajamas to get my then overtired child. Oh, yeah, now I remembered — maybe it's not-so-easy to have that first sleepover. But so easy to have some kind of parental amnesia! Ugh. I was immediately wondering if we were going to need to turn right back around and pick up the kids and then turn around again to go home.
“Hi, Mama,” my younger daughter sounded sheepish and a little sad to me.
“Hi, sweetie! How's it going?” I asked as kindly and thoughtfully as I could, despite the disappointment I was already beginning to feel about the impending drive and loss of a much anticipated date night with my husband.
“Mamaaaa, I miss youuuuuu! Who's going to give me love tonight?” My daughter was definitely projecting her sad puppy eyes through her voice now.
“Oh, honey, I miss you, too! I'm still loving you, though, even when I'm not there,” I tried to reassure her.
“But, Mamaaaaa…” she was beginning to whine and pine for me.
Suddenly, I got an idea.
“Oh, wait, sweetie, can you just hold on one sec? I'm going to….wait, hold on. (Effort noises.) Wait, here it comes…I'm (exaggerated effort noises) stuffing my love (more noises) into the phone (and still more exaggerated noises) hold on — it's a lot, you know — can you let me know when it gets there?” I ask.
“OK, Mama. Wait, Mama, it's here! It's here! I've got it! I got it all! Now you wait, Mama. I'm sending YOU my infinity love now!” my 5 year old said with great excitement.
“Wow! I got it, sweetie! It's here! Thank you! You know, MY love is infinite, too, right?!” I say with lots of cheer.
“I know that, Mama. I gotta go now! Bye!” my daughter said cheerfully and she hung up the phone even before I got to say goodbye!
My husband had been shooting worried looks at me, wondering what the…? I hung up the phone and smiled, “She just needed a little connection. She's fine now. Let's go catch our movie!”
When I went to pick them up the next day, my 5 year old was happy to see me and told me how much fun she had had. My sister told me that my little girl had slept through the night — no problem.
I don't think I ever would have come up with a way to connect and play on the phone before I had started using the Parenting by Connection tools. I know that without all the great support I had been receiving from my listening partnerships, I would not have been able to be so relaxed and flexible in my thinking! Who would ever think to inject a little Playlistening by phone to help calm first sleepover anxiety?! My husband and I got our date night and our girls had a lot of fun having a sleepover with their cousins. My younger daughter just needed to remember that we were connected and the Playlistening reached her despite being 45 minutes away!
~ Cecilia Hyoun, Parenting by Connection Parent
Learn more about Helping Your Children Sleep in our online video course for parents.