Why Are Grown-Ups Suddenly Having “Adult Sleepovers” at Their Grandparents’ Houses?

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Adult Sleepovers

A new trend taking the internet by storm is about as heartwarming as you’ll see on the internet — adult grandkids surprising their grandparents with sleepovers. It is an adorable combination of grown-ups taking a trip down memory lane while making their elderly family member’s day, especially when they live alone after the loss of their life partner.

With a combo of nostalgia and positivity, this trend is getting a lot of attention on social media platforms like TikTok as a pleasant distraction from some of the more unsavory content online (1). But more than that, this trend builds connection, love, and a special bond between grandparents and their grandchildren by creating new memories while cherishing the old ones.

Why Are Adults Having Sleepovers at Their Grandparents’ House?

Experts say these videos represent much more than just a fun sleepover. Dr. Kate Truitt, a licensed clinical psychologist and applied neuroscientist who provides grief recovery training, explains that this trend “reflects a deep-seated human need for connection and support, especially during times of grief and loss.” When a grandparent loses a life partner, the void left behind can be immense. But the presence of a grandchild can provide a sense of comfort and continuity.

“This intergenerational bond not only helps the grandparent in their grieving process but also allows the grandchild to engage in a meaningful and empathetic way, potentially strengthening their own emotional resilience, says Truitt.”

Helen Neale, a Counsellor and Parenting Expert at KiddyCharts, believes that offering a connection to grandparents is likely to be healthy for both the grandkids and the grandparents. However, she does caution that ensuring the grandparents are comfortable with the arrangement is important.

“The only proviso is to really make sure that this is something that the grandparents are happy with,” says Neale. She emphasizes the importance of first checking in with the grandparents to ensure the sleepover doesn’t overstep their boundaries.

Spending a night at grandma and grandpa’s house fosters connection, support, and mutual emotional growth, strengthening the bond between generations.

Building Connection Supports Mental Health

According to Truitt, a lot is going on beneath the surface regarding this trend. She explains that the human brain is wired for connection and that relationships are crucial to our overall wellbeing.

Truitt says human brains are social organs, and they thrive on connection. “When we engage in meaningful relationships, like the bond between a grandparent and grandchild, our brains release oxytocin, often called the ‘love hormone.’ This not only makes us feel good but also has a positive impact on our mental health,” she says

She further explains that these connections can be particularly beneficial during times of stress or grief, such as when a grandparent loses a life partner. “The presence of a grandchild can provide a sense of comfort and continuity — this intergenerational bond not only helps the grandparent in their grieving process but also allows the grandchild to engage in a meaningful and empathetic way, potentially strengthening their own emotional resilience,” she explains.

While on the surface, you’re engaging in a fun, nostalgic sleepover, there’s a deeper level of connection and emotional support that benefits all generations.

How to Plan Your Own Grown-Up Sleepover

Before you pack up your pillows, fuzzy slippers, and onesies, keep in mind that while TikToks focus on the adorable reactions of elderly folks, there’s potential for things to go differently when you surprise your own family members. Follow these tips from Dr. Truitt.

Pre-Plan Sleepover Logistics with Clear Communication

Discussing and agreeing upon specific details in advance is best for family sleepovers. Communicate clear arrival and departure times to manage expectations and respect everyone’s schedules. Additionally, ensure that family members are aware of the plan to call before visiting, especially during grief, to respect each other’s space and need for privacy.

Set Boundaries and Expectations for Sleepovers

Establish and communicate boundaries specific to sleepovers, such as quiet hours, private spaces, and shared responsibilities. In grief, focusing on holding space for each person’s unique way of processing loss is crucial. This means allowing individuals the freedom to grieve in their own time and manner, without judgment or pressure. Creating a supportive environment where people’s emotions and needs are validated can significantly aid healing.

Organize Sleepover Activities with Assigned Roles

Plan activities that are comforting and inclusive, keeping in mind the emotional state of family members during grief. Assign tasks or roles for each activity, like preparing meals or organizing a memory-sharing session. This helps distribute responsibilities while allowing people to emotionally prepare or even step out of certain activities if they do not feel they have the bandwidth to participate. It’s important to find ways for everyone to contribute to the sleepover in a meaningful and therapeutic way.

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  • Truitt, Kate. Author interview. January 2024.

  • Neale, Helen. Author interview. January 2024.

  • 1. Mallett, Karin; “Grown grandkids sleep over at grandparents’ homes in new TikTok trend,” 69News WFMZ; https://www.wfmz.com/news/good-news/grown-grandkids-sleep-over-at-grandparents-homes-in-new-tiktok-trend/article_029668ca-bc37-11ee-a609-abef362c1b00.html; January 26, 2024.

Rachel MacPherson

Rachel MacPherson

Rachel MacPherson, BA, is a CPT, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Certified Exercise Nutrition Specialist, Certified Pre/Post-Partum Fitness Trainer, and Pain-Free Performance Specialist. She's passionate about providing readers with straightforward, actionable tips to make living an active, vibrant, fulfilling life easier. When she's not writing, you can find her lifting heavy things, reading, exploring outdoors, or watching the newest iteration of the Star Wars Universe. She lives with her family and pets in beautiful Nova Scotia, Canada.

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