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Family sleepovers: a tribute to my 1970s childhood.
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Posted 23 July 2015 - 11:41 AM
I often contemplate how different things were in my 1970s childhood. From the minute we could walk, we spent the daylight hours roaming the sewers and climbing electricity poles. Alright, maybe not that extreme but it certainly felt more free-range than the life my children lead. I’m not going to rehash the overscheduling and the overprotectiveness our generation of parenting have been repeatedly accused of. I am, however, going to charge my cocktail glass of ‘Grasshopper’ and honour one part of my childhood I’m trying to recreate: the family sleepover.
Let me explain.
More times than I can remember my parents would get together with friends for dinner. We’d trundle along, the older kids would “go play” while the babies would be propped somewhere within view. There was no feed/play/sleep routine being adhered to. The parents ate, drank, talked, laughed and were, for all intents and purposes, oblivious to us. Bigger kids were off running a muck, with very little supervision, so didn’t care what the parents were doing. The adults occasionally threw food in our general direction. If we were lucky, we may have been granted a Dixie Cup for dessert. There was no stressing about babies needing to sleep at a certain time. An unsettled baby was passed around from adult to adult, nursed in the warmth of somebody’s arms until they dozed off. When the older children got tired, we slept where we fell. It may have been in the bed belonging to the parents of the house, or it could’ve have been on the couch, or on a bunch of cushions on the floor. It may possibly have been on a mattress in the back of the Commodore station wagon as they drove home at some ungodly hour (before the days of 0.05 BAC limits). Someone would throw a blanket over us and Bob’s your uncle. These nights were not kid-centric. They were about the adults.
To say that out loud these days is to expose yourself to a public caning. If your child is not at the epicentre of your world you’re risking being branded as the bad parent, the selfish parent, the neglectful parent. Strangely, my memories of those nights in my childhood are all about fun. Sleepover excitement, staying up late with other kids, watching movies we probably weren’t supposed to watch and eating whatever was on offer. Freedom.
So, I tread carefully as I admit we tried to reinvent the adult-centric world. For just one night. It was spurred by a dinner recently, where friends came over with their kids but the children rolled in every fifteen minutes or so, from 8pm, telling their parents they were tired. By 9pm, the parents were sick of the kids hassling and decided it would be easier to pack up and go home. We’d barely sat down and eaten, unable to finish a bottle of wine between the four of us. Conversation was truncated in regular intervals thanks to interrupting children needing something. It is a scene that’s played out numerous times since I’ve had children. As much as you send the kids off to watch the movie, or have a rest on the couch, they are not trained for the random collapse somewhere other than their own bed. I decided it was time to induct our kids into the world of 1970s family sleepovers.
With modern day life, impromptu nights are rare so we did have to schedule it in. Another family locked in a date with us for the big sleepover. Bags were packed, beds were made up. It wasn’t as spontaneous as our childhood sleepovers but the sentiment was the same: Kids! Entertain yourselves so we too, can have a night of fun.
Although we didn't eat a prawn cocktail, apricot chicken or crepes Suzette, we did manage eating, drinking, talking and laughing without persistent disruptions and requests to go home. The kids knew we weren’t going anywhere and so they played old fashioned games, like hide-n-seek and Uno. I forgot to crack out the Etch-a-sketch and the elastics but as it turned out, they weren’t needed.
The kids went to bed way too late, and we hit the pillow even later. With sore heads in the morning over a cooked breakfast, we agreed we should do it more often. So as I skip down memory lane, I’m excited about our modern take on the 1970s family sleepover. I look forward to continuing the training program with my children.
Did you have sleepovers like these as kids? Do you do anything like it now with your kids?
Posted 23 July 2015 - 01:21 PM
My neighbours and I were discussing this just the other day. We practically do this now however we aren't out late enough for them to doze off. But it is in our future plans as the kids get older and watch movies etc. loads of cushions and blankets and a movie after a few hours of fun playing and mucking around.
Posted 23 July 2015 - 11:09 PM
I remember that exactly - many a New Year's Eve party at my aunty's house where the adults *thought* we were all asleep in their double bed but we were peering through their bedroom curtains across the courtyard (Spanish hacienda style house - 1970s) while they were gettin down to Barry White (I'm old). We were also taken out to the local Chinese *in our* pyjamas and fell asleep under the table.
Posted 23 July 2015 - 11:27 PM
We just did this at the hunter valley on Sunday n Monday. The kids loved it! My 7month old got passed around just as u described lol
Posted 23 July 2015 - 11:34 PM
We used to to this all the time as kids, country WA station wagons parked at farms, kids asleep in the back, parents took it in turns every hour or so to do a walk around and check on us.
Many nights spent asleep on someone's loungeroom, being carried to the car by my beautilful dad is one of my fondest memories,
Thankfully my friends now have the same memories, all our kids regularly fall asleep at an "aunties" house on a Friday night whilst mum and dad wind down from a long week.
I love it and wouldn't have it any other way. Our rule of thumb is if we can't see you then we aren't focussing on the fact you should be in bed so go, play spotlight, eat the lollies we leave out for you, enjoy make memories, it's one of the best gifts we can give our kids!
Posted 23 July 2015 - 11:39 PM
We do this all the time, with quite a few friends. Probably 3 families that we have a close friendship with.
It's easier now that our kids are all between 9-12/13. They have a room in our house with PS3, guitars, keyboards, drums etc. it is their domain, and they crash in sleeping bags when they want to.
They play in the park across the road, and come in around dark - whatever time that is. Hide and seek tends to take over after that, but they are banned from hiding in the living/dining/kitchen area.
We (the adults) hang out, drink wine, BBQ or throw together some sort of meal, or order take-away. It's casual, fun, and sometimes they stay the night, or sometimes they go home - whatever. Sometimes later i the evening the guitars come out, and we sing the same old songs we fall back on every time - everyone has a favourite. (And some of them actually have really good voices.... me, not so much!)
It is very similar to the way I grew up, and I love it! DH has taken a while to warm to it, he grew up very differently. But he is into it now too. I feel blessed to have great friends, and that our kids are also great friends.
Posted 23 July 2015 - 11:42 PM
Our rule of thumb is if we can't see you then we aren't focussing on the fact you should be in bed so go, play spotlight, eat the lollies we leave out for you, enjoy make memories, it's one of the best gifts we can give our kids!
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