My boyfriend slept over with my kids home for the first time and hilarity (and normality) ensued

 That’s adorable. Now get your ass back to bed. 

 

If you’re new here, let me catch you up on my stance on single moms and dating: You are an adult, sexual woman and should proudly date. Do not hide your dating from your kids. Even though there is little societal support for the sexuality of mothers — unmarried ones in particular — do not let that hold you back from enjoying the many amazing men in your midst.

And once you do, it’s not a big deal if your kids meet the men you date — even casually. It is not emotionally scaring to get to know a person you will never see again if you don’t expect every single person you encounter to be in your life forever and ever. Your kids have friends and neighbors who they love, but move away. Adored teachers who they leave behind at the end of the year, and relatives who die. Meeting a guy their mom is seeing, but may not stay with for the longterm, is not a ticket to a life on the couch, talking about how their mom effed them up with her sexual exploits.

I will go as far as to say you should date, and let your kids know about it. Denying your sexuality and need for romantic connection sets a bad example for your children and thrusts too much responsibility on them to care for your emotional needs now, and physical and financial needs in the future.

Further reading:

Single moms should’t wait to introduce their kids to their new boyfriend

The real reasons moms are afraid to introduce their kids to their boyfriend

That said, I’ve been a bit ginger about integrating my new boyfriend into my family circus, for reasons I will elaborate on later this week. I’ve been seeing him for more than three months, and my kids have met him a couple times. He’s sweet with them, and he tries to play it cool, though I can tell he’s a little nervous about making a good impression on them (and on me, with them), which makes him all the more irresistible.

In the spirit of being normal about mixing kids with dudes, I also tried to keep it cool. We’d planned for him to have dinner at my place with the kids last Thursday. Earlier in the week I texted: “Do you want to stay over?”

Sure, he said. I didn’t want to make it into a huge deal with the kids, but I also believe it is really disrespectful to sneak men into your bed, or simply wake up with a man laying next to you without any explanation. Kids aren’t morons.

So, I first mentioned to Lucas, age 4: “He’s going to sleep over at our house Thursday.”

When his sister, 6, came home, Luke eagerly rushed up to her: “Helena! Helena! Guess WHAT! Mommy’s boyfriend is going to SLEEP at our HOUSE!”

Helena: “Where is he going to sleep?

Me: “My bed.”

Helena: “Where are you going to sleep?”

Me: “In my bed with him.”

Helena: “I think you wiggle too much at night. Maybe he should sleep on the couch.”

Lucas: “I know! I know! He can sleep in MY BED!”

Me: “Where are you going to sleep?”

Lucas: “With you.”

Me: “I’m going to sleep with him in my bed because he’s my boyfriend and I want to snuggle with him.”

Lucas: “What about OUR morning snuggles?”
sell engagement ring

 

Me: “We will still do that — there are plenty of mommy snuggles to go around.”

Helena: “I promise not to fart on his lap like I did with your last boyfriend. I think that’s why you broke up.”

Maybe that last bit about the boyfriend snuggles was TMI, but it is true and go to the heart of the kids’ confusion — this visitor is different than the many houseguests who frequent our couch. And it turned out to be completely accurate (read on).

The day of The Great Sleepover, I picked Helena at the bus stop and she giddily skipped along the sidewalk holding my hand.

“My mommy’s boyfriend is going to sleep at my house! My mommy’s boyfriend is going to sleep at my house! I told everyone at school — even my teachers! My mommy’s boyfriend is going to sleep at my house!” 

The rest of the evening was pork chops and roasted cauliflower and cupcakes my boyfriend brought for the kids. He cleaned the kitchen (even the stovetop which I religiously leave for the housecleaner) while I got the kids into the bath and jammies. I read Helena one of those Madonna English Roses books and he read Lucas a Planes book. There were kisses all around, followed by yelling to get back into bed, and it couldn’t have been more normal or cozy.

And it was, at its core, a normal and cozy Thursday evening with the kids. I put on my long-sleeved pajamas, washed my face and slipped into bed next to him, my head resting in the crook of my arm and then on his chest. We turned off the light and talked about what I don’t remember. I wish I had a funny story about stifled howls of passion or a knocking headboard that awoke the kids, and while there were some steamy adult snuggles under the predawn covers, we crawled out of bed to make coffee and muffins and listen to NPR as I yelled at the kids to hurry up and get dressed already. And then the day had begun.

 
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31 thoughts on “My boyfriend slept over with my kids home for the first time and hilarity (and normality) ensued

  1. I love your refreshing, honest and thoughtful approach Emma! This post was engaging from beginning to end. Your kids are hilarious!!

    That’s so sweet he read your son a Planes book. Good luck with your relationship!

  2. My BF recently stayed over, and later came and stayed almost a week. My kids are older than yours – upper elementary/middle school – so I was very apprehensive about the slumber party. It was my kids’ idea to have him stay – I had already laid down that as a ground rule: no slumber parties when the kids are here.
    It went SO smoothly. In fact, they all came in one morning, plopped on the bed and chatted.
    I’ve (finally) figured out that if I don’t blow a situation out of proportion, my kids don’t either. They can’t wait for him to be back – me too! :)

    1. Wow, what a great note. “I’ve (finally) figured out that if I don’t blow a situation out of proportion, my kids don’t either” — so relevant to so many things in parenting. Keep us posted on how things go :)

  3. That’s great! I’ve been with my boyfriend a little over a year, and sleepovers started about 6 months ago. My kids LOVE it when he sleeps over.

    1. Thank you! My teenage son seems happy that I have a new boyfriend. I am honest with him and have decided we’l all 3 go to a concert in a month so they can meet. My mother told me I should feel bad about staying with my boyfriend overnight. I don’t feel bad and I don’t think I should. I’m serious about this guy and I haven’t paraded a bunch of men around my son. Please tell me this is healthy… or not I want to know. I’m 35 and never married and my son is 14. We have great communicatI n and he genuinely seems happy for me. Help. My mother thinks I’m horrible. …

      1. You are doing a great job! Congrats on the wonderful boyfriend, and so great that your son is supportive. You go to that concert, enjoy yourself, and ignore your mom. She doesn’t get a vote :)

  4. That’s a great story and piece of advice!
    I will definitely keep it in mind when and if I am ever in that situation.
    :)

    I appreciate your healthy perspective on single motherhood and dating.

  5. Wanted to share this comment from Amy on the post re: the podcast on this topic. Thought it was so funny and true:

    “So here’s the big secret everyone is tip-toeing around: at 4 and 6, your kids think beds are for SLEEPING. That’s what they think is going on when your boyfriend sleeps over…you are both SLEEPING…in the same bed! Chances are you’ll go to bed after the kids and (with any luck at all) the kids will be sleeping or just barely awake by the time you’re up and headed out the door to work. So purely by logistics, you’ve got your “discretion.” And of course your point is completely spot on that we all need to model healthy, NORMAL relationships for our children. In a healthy, normal relationship, your partner doesn’t sleep on the couch, right? Way to go Emma, you rock.”

  6. If you are allowing your boyfriend to stay the night while your kids are at home you are a SLUT! You have or should make the time away from your kids to get laid. This is disgusting and I feel the same about those supporting your choices. You women are desperate for male attention (how many of you had loving fathers???) and you are causing more damage to your children than you are apparently able to understand. How many men will come and go while your children watch their mother give herself to each one in hopes that one will stick around? Disgusting.

    1. I disagree with calling her a slut. I have been seeing a man for 5 years. Our kids have met, and we all spend time together. We are just friends as far as the kids go. We don’t have sleep overs when the kids are home. My kids and I slept over when his daughter was there. I slept on the couch. We are trying to raise our kids in the same way. We both have common ideas, and values that we are impressing upon our children. We have both acknowledged that we would like more. We have also let the kids know that we are moving slow, and things may or may not progress. Both of us have had difficulty in healing from our respective divorces. We both waited quite awhile before dating anyone. We both went in several dates before meeting each other. None of our other dates worked out. We decided to be friends but it has gone much further. I don’t think there is anything wrong with the way Emma is going about it for her family. It would not work for mine, but it appears to be working for hers. We can disagree without calling names or judging. I’m glad she is offering a perspective different than most people. I am not ashamed of sex, or sexuality. A lot of women especially moms are. The biggest thing I want my kids to k ow is that when someone is very special to you, and you want to build a life with them, you treat that relationship special. You don’t expose it to the elements. You take your time. You don’t give yourself to just anyone. I don’t mean only sexually. You don’t involve someone in your family life if they aren’t permanent in some way. If this man and I ever decide we are not going to be more, we are friends for life. I think we will eventually be more. We’fe just progressing naturally, and not rushing into anything, or giving kids expectations beyond what we expect ourselves. It is working for our families. After being married and divorced, and feeling like a failure for being divorced, I want to make sure my kids take marriage seriously, and don’t think I gave up easily. I want them to have a good example of a healthy relationship, and respect for themselves and their partners. I feel like I’m giving them a good example. it is right for us. Emma gets to decide what is right for her – as does each one of us.

  7. My boyfriend of two years has slept over twice now with my daughter who is 12 at home. The first time we played it off like we fell asleep watching a movie. The most recent time I just let him stay and didn’t say anything. I guess I’m nervous about questions she may have since we have always had an open relationship of discussing most things. What if she blatantly asks if we are having sex? I think I myself am nervous too that a new normal will occur and she will feel neglected of the 24/7 time that we’ve always shared.

    1. A lot of people tell little lies and hope the kids don’t notice that that their entire family dynamic has changed. I get that this is challenging and uncomfortable. But until you get over your own shame about being a sexual person — and a mom — it will only cast shame about sex and sexuality on your daughter, too.

      Since you’ve already passively let your daughter know that this is something not to be spoken of, take it upon yourself to turn it around. Next time you and your daughter are together alone, bring it up. Be cool. Say: “You probably noticed that Rob has been sleeping over. He will be sleeping over more often now. How do you feel about that?”

      She may resent he is taking time away from you. Or maybe she feels like she has even more attention from a loving adult. Or both. It may be a really easy transition for her. Or it may be really painful. Or both at different times. Keep the conversation going. Respond to her cues. Also push her – gently – to open up even more.

      She is 12. She should be getting sex ed at school and home by now. She has hormones. Sex is all around her. If she doesn’t ask about sex, she will be thinking about it. Plan on addressing it — either in this first conversation or the subsequent ones. If she asks, “Where does Rob sleep?” Tell her: “In my bed.”

      “Are you having sex with him?”

      “Yes. I care about him very much and adults have sex together. ”

      Take it from there. It may be uncomfortable for you, and that is OK. This is new territory for both of you. You may screw it up. And that is ok. But forgive yourself. Embrace this new relationship. Do your best to shed your shame. Congratulations on the relationship! And good luck :) You’re doing a great job. xxx

    2. I also have a12 year old daughter. My boyfriend, who I have known for about 15 years, decided about 7 month ago, that he wanted to take our friendship to a higher level. Now we are talking marriage. He is coming to spend time with me (he lives in another State). We are planning on moving in together in the summer. When he comes, this will be the first time meeting him. She had spoken to him on the phone, but that’s about it. When I asked her what she thought about him coming to visit for two weeks, she surprised me by saying that she was excited, and that it was okay because she wants me to be happy. She has a few friends who’s moms havery new boyfriend, one who Everything got married. The only thing bothering me, is how to explain that my boyfriend will be sleeping with me. I’ve been single since she was born. Although I dated a couple times, no man has ever come to my home. Now that I’m in a committed relationship with someone who is not only my friend, but someone that wants to spend the rest of his life with me. He thinks that it’s important that my daughter is happy, because if she is happy…..we will all be happy, but at the same time, he does not want to sneak around. He feels that she is old enough to understand that asks who love each other, share the same bed. It’s what adults do. My mother will probably flip a lid. Nothing I do will ever be good enough for her. She thinks that I should wait until my daughter graduates from high school, and move out of the house before I allow any man to spend the night at my house. She did that with us, but instead of letting him move in….she left us to go and live with him in another Country. We were not our of high school. I am so glad that I found your post. I think that being honest with my 12 year old daughter is the best approach. Just like I say down with her and tools her about my boyfriend, I will sit down and talk to her again, so that I can evaluate her feelings. She will always come before any man that I bring into her life. My boyfriend told her, that if she ever needed to talk, she could call him. He had a daughter that he is googoo over, and he had Granddaughters that he adores, so he knows that it’s important to make my daughter feel comfortable about the relationship between her mom and mom’s boyfriend.

  8. Very good insight and advice. We have maintained a very open relationship in any topic up to this point and luckily had the sex talk a few years ago, and periodically still discuss when questions arise. I had, however, neglected the “when my boyfriend sleeps over” discussions. I thought about your words throughout today and knew I had to have this conversation with my daughter immediately. Funny part? Her response was, “Mom, I’m totally fine with it.” Thank you for your feedback. Much appreciated.

    1. Ha! Kids are so much more mature than we are sometimes :) Glad this was helpful and the outcome a good one. But keep the conversation going … her feelings and your feelings will change over time.

  9. I have two kids 7,8 . I also have a boyfriend. We planned to have a sleepover, then when he arived earlier that day for bvq, he mentioned he wanted to take things slow. That when he was little his mother would have guys in his life and it was uncomfterble for him, so he believes my son to feel this way. He has been sneaking over. Im not sure what to do. I feel like i do not want to lie to my kids or them catch us sneaking around. But i want tho respect his feelings as well

  10. Oh my goodness, thank you for writing this. I am overwhelmed with the amount of conservatism and self-sacrifice people expect of single moms.

    I have a two and a half year old and am newly dating someone (about 3 months in). We’ve not had a sleepover yet, but we’re serious about one another — given, we’re as serious as you can get in a few months — and I don’t think sleepovers are too far off for us.

    Shocker — I believe in modeling healthy sexuality for my daughter. I read in some thread that if I don’t want my kids having a parade of partners through their lives then don’t show them how to do that. Well, I actually don’t care if my daughter decides that she wants to have lots of casual sex… when she is capable of making that decision — near or at adulthood. I also don’t care if she is gay, or decides polyamory is for her, or is into kinky sex. All I care about is that she feels respected and empowered and in control of her sexuality. I care that she doesn’t hurt others or manipulate them, so I will make sure I don’t date people who are hurtful and manipulative. I care that she can communicate her wants and needs to someone she cares about, so I will model that for her in my relationships. What I cannot protect her from is loss. We lose people we love. Sure, I don’t want her to be heartbroken if I can prevent it, but I won’t always be able to do that.

    Sometimes we will make the wrong choice, and our kids will have to go through those consequences with us. This is true whether we are happily married forever or single parents and dating. We will cause pain to our kids. Hopefully rarely, but it is inevitable. How we help them heal is much more important than that it happens.

    Anyway, thanks for bringing this refreshing perspective to the overwhelmingly conservative, prudish, and outdated conversations around this topic.

    1. Every parent, dad or mom, should expect a lot of self sacrifice. It goes with having a child. It’s our job to do the right thing for them. The right thing for each family varies.

  11. I was glad to come across this. I’ve been dating my boyfriend for two years and we finally had a sleepover with his kids and mine. Slept with the door wide open. No hanky panky kids had a campout in the family room. My ex husband is now berating me and saying I’m selfish and all I think about is me. When I think it is good for my kids to see a healthy loving relationship modeled, something they never saw when I was married. I have been divorced for five years. This is my first relationship after my divorce.

  12. I’m contemplating this myself. I have a bf…whom my kids have met two or three times…they all seem to get along…my kids are 6 and 12. The 6yo is a boy and the 12yo is a girl. My boyfriend lives an hour and a half away and we would really like to have the freedom to stay over…but I’m concerned about how to bring this up with them. I agree that I don’t want to sneak or lie… but is it too soon if he’s only met them within the last few weeks? I’m sure my mother will have negative comments once it’s known so I want to make sure I’ve thought this out well before I commit to it.

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