Is being a non parent making me a Grinch?
How I stole a Christmas sleepover.

Kids seem to be getting the better of me this festive season

Last week I babysat my favourite 'little' friends. The kids (who are usually very well behaved and asleep by 8pm) were still up and ready for a party at 10:30pm. They couldn't stay in their beds for longer than ten minutes before getting up again and again to tell me that they wanted to play, or that they wanted to cuddle.

By the end of the night I'd run out of reinforcements and had given up on getting them to stay in bed but luckily they'd just fallen asleep by the time their parents got home.

Yesterday when I got home from work I parked my car in my designated parking space in front of our house. We live in a complex and our front garden, which has no boundary walls or fencing to separate it from the others, extends out to the parking area.

A Monday night camping party

I came home to find that our neighbour’s kids had pitched a tent (bedding, teddy bears and all) in our garden, right outside our front door. Cute, I thought, and walked inside to get ready for gym.

When I got home again at about 7pm the tent was still there, as were the kids, and some of their friends. They were playing Hide and Go Seek around the complex while my sister and I relaxed outside and chatted. It had been a long day where various things had gone wrong and I was exhausted.

By 9pm I was about to head inside and get ready for bed when it occurred to me that the kids were still up and playing in and around the tent.

All I want for Christmas is sleep

By 9:30 I realised that the kids were probably not going to be sleeping in their own beds and that their plan really was to have a sleep over in the tent, with their friends, right outside my bedroom window.

Let me not be the party pooper and ask them to move the tent elsewhere. It’s Christmas, I thought.

An hour later these kids were nowhere near tired. In fact they seemed to have more energy than an ADHD child on an industrial sized can of Red Bull. 

Through my window I asked them to “shhhh...please keep it down, you lot”.

That lasted all of ten minutes.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it...stop

Then there was singing, shrieks of laughter, joy and happiness, Christmas cheer and songs and then...musical instruments. A drum and what sounded like some sort of marimba made from tin cans were intended to contribute to the shouted out version of Jingle Bells.  

I waited until 10:30pm and hoped that one of the other neighbours would have gotten as fed up as I was. How is this not bothering anyone else? Should I turn the sprinklers on?

When the sounds from the offending tent reached volumes that exceeded my level of patience I shot up out of bed, knocking my hand against the wall by mistake as I flicked my duvet off to the side.

I stormed towards the front door, slammed it OPEN and firmly told them (in a way that would remind most people of that scary teacher from their school days) to “keep it down right now! I’m trying to sleep! Just keep it down!!!” 

With big eyes and a look that made me wonder if Voldemort was standing behind me, they stood there frozen before I turned around and went back inside. 

Silent night

Immediately (and quietly) the tent was taken down while their dad made sure everything was cleaned up and peace in our garden was restored. 

When I saw them taking the tent down a feeling of complete and utter guilt suddenly hit me. I remembered when I first slept in a tent in our garden and the uncontrollable excitement I had in the days leading up to Christmas.

It's a special and exciting time for children and I'd ruined it.

Granted, small people should definitely not be camping in a communal garden and screaming and shouting late at night, but I guess I could've been a bit more of a sport about it.

Bah Humbug

Perhaps I should at least have tried to negotiate with them or given them a better opportunity to control the noise levels before bringing their camping sleepover to a complete end.

After all that it still took me another hour to get to sleep while I couldn't come to terms with the guilt I felt for ruining a Christmas sleepover, but at least I won't have to listen to that version of Jingle Bells again. 

Do non parents tend to be more grumpy at Christmas time? Send us your comment to 

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