My two eldest kids have started the holidays with separate sleepovers with their grandparents who live a couple of hours away.

I am not sure who was more anxious about this in the beginning – the kids or us! Obviously they were a little anxious as they had not stayed away from us much before while we were probably a little more anxious as we knew it would not be easy to come and be with them if things got too tough.

Gilbert was the first cab off the rank. He was excited and couldn’t stop talking about it but his body language suggested otherwise.

For the two nights before he left he had trouble going to sleep in his own bed (he ended up in ours) and had restless nights. He kept asking us if we loved him and was quick to get upset and cross over the littlest things.

We hoped he would be okay but we worried – would he have trouble sleeping? Would he cry or have a meltdown in frustration? Would he swear or lash out when thwarted? Would he be able to be soothed by his nan and pop if we weren’t there?

Well, it turned out he was a little angel. No meltdowns, no tantrums. Of course he had the undivided attention of two adults for two days so he was always going to be at his best. And he was spoilt to within an inch of his life.

He went kayaking, fishing, paddled about at the beach, went for long walks not to mention the special treats he received as part of his stay (can I say I never remember my parents ever giving ME chocolate-vanilla swirl ice-creams…)

He returned today having had the time of his life. There was just one problem – he hadn’t realized that I would be at work when he got home and that sent him into a serious meltdown. Apparently for three hours he cried intermittently, asking when I would be home, clearly confused by the emotions swirling within him.

He was still upset when I got home and has been sad on and off ever since. He is currently laying in our bed trying to get to sleep still so very confused by the fact that he did enjoy his time away but, at the same time, still felt homesick and missed us terribly.

We knew there would be problems readjusting. That’s life with autism. While we are dealing with the aftermath of change and upheaval (and it’s hard seeing your child struggling to come to grips with things, however many times you’ve seen it before) at least we know he had a positive time with his grandparents.

Despite his current state of upset, I know he would be happy to have another sleepover away from us. And knowing that he really did enjoy himself gives us, as his parents, the confidence to do it again, even if it again involves the pain of watching him trying to readjust afterwards.

Now, we just have to see how Matilda fares…


Do your kids enjoy sleepovers with extended family or close friends?