December 29 15

Oh parenting.

What an adventure full of twists and turns.

Last night at 11pm, instead of eating gummy bears, watching Jane The Virgin and editing photos, during the very blustery sideways-snowing, first snowstorm of the season, I drove to pick up a pajama-d and teary-eyed Isabella from a sleepover.

Her stomach was hurting, she said. (It wasn’t)

Superbad, she said. (Nope.)

I know because this has been the pattern for Isabella’s last three sleepovers and surprise! her stomach was miraculously cured the moment she got into the car.

But this morning she was up at 7, in tears, so angry at herself, so sad to have missed out on last night’s fun and this morning’s fun. I mean, her friends are all together and she’s here, with boring old me. She doesn’t know why she’s anxious—she can’t pinpoint it when I ask her. And I have asked her, at least 100 times. She knows her friends’ moms (and dads!) are awesome and would take good care of her if her stomach were to actually hurt her. It’s a mystery to us both, really. In fact, I found her googling “overcoming sleepover anxiety” online this morning. No, really.

She has been sleeping over at friends’ houses since she was a toddler. So this is new. Our kids are Sleepover Kids — at grandparents, cousins, friends, anyone who will take them, really. (I kid.) She has been to sleepover camp — twice — without issue, and she’s signed up to go to camp this summer for an entire month. She has been begging for a monogrammed overnight bag — as a better-late-than-never Chanukah gift.

I don’t know what to do, actually.

Say no to future sleepover invites? I don’t think that’s the answer. I really don’t want to find myself with a 30-year-old living in my house because she’s unable to leave home.

Force her to stay at sleepovers when she’s so visibly upset and anxious? That’s not really fair to anyone, especially her sleepover hosts.

Continue to have the same full-of-no-answers cyclical conversation over and over and over? Nope. It doesn’t seem to be helping.

Help me, internet.

Because I need to see this Sleepover Girl once again.



  1. I have no idea how to help. Is she fine when people sleep over at your house? Maybe stick with that for a bit? Until she outgrows this? Since it seems like something that she will, hopefully?

    Comment by Kristabella on December 29, 2015
  2. Totally fine when friends are here. 🙂

    Comment by ali on December 29, 2015
  3. It sounds like it may be helpful to take her to a therapist who deals with anxiety in children, even just for a few sessions. They will be able to recommend some mindfulness-based exercises for her to do in the moment or even before she starts feeling anxious. These same exercises will be applicable to any time she finds herself in a stressful situation. Good luck!

    Comment by Diana on December 29, 2015
  4. Google and then create a “fear thermometer” or some other fear chart with Isabella, where you can get to the nitty gritty about what irks her. Make her be super specific. What is a 10 on the fear scale and what is a 2? In this way you could help her to work up to a full sleepover by overcoming lower level fears. And remember small victories make big impact.Hazlacha raba.

    Comment by Bailey on December 29, 2015
  5. This is amazing. Thank you!

    Comment by ali on December 29, 2015
  6. I think you should just go with it for now. Sounds like it’s out of character for her so maybe it’s just a phase. Collect her each time, give her plenty of assurance that’s it will pass. Just be there. Just my 2 cent. Kind regards,

    Comment by Julieanne gibney on December 29, 2015
  7. We just went through this a bit back (as I speak, Rosey is out on her third sleepover since the Great Anxiety – and I say that not to be flip but because I never knew what to call it) we did several things: we talked about what a good sleepover was like versus a scary one, we let her take control and be home for a few months, we (and I think this was the best thing) got her a book on feelings and started reading it together. (Or really, she’d read and then tell me about it, I’d get interested, she’d point out stuff, it was cool!) and then about halfway through the book she remembered that there was a weird guy at one of her friends house and she didn’t like him. (He was a friend of her friends father, nothing bad ever happened, she just didn’t feel right around him, and it poisoned the whole well, so to speak.) But she didn’t remember why she felt strange until we read the book. I will find out the name of the book for you….let me hunt for it! Good luck – it’s so hard when they doubt themselves!

    Comment by Jessica on December 29, 2015
  8. The feelings book : the care & keeping of your emotions / Lynda Madison ; illustrated by Josée Masse.
    I’m almost positive it was A Mighty Girl selection. We always have good luck with those.

    Comment by Jessica on December 29, 2015

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