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Friendship & Sleepovers

Sleepovers entail a special intimacy, because of the hours of uninterrupted time that friends have to spend together, “the self-revelation of pajamas and of shedding day clothes to get into them, and the physical proximity that usually prevails” – Deborah Tannen[1]

Sleepovers are an important fixture of female friendships. I remember the anticipation and excitement of my first sleepover. I had an overnight bag packed with my towel and toiletries, snacks, a change of clothes, and of course – my most ‘presentable’ pyjamas. One friend brought the games, another brought a DVD, and yet another had the perfect playlist. Together we converged, and transformed the bedroom into a blanket fort - our very own cocoon of friendship.

Since then I’ve been for, and hosted numerous sleepovers with close friends, we’ve chatted, played games, giggled over bad jokes, watched questionable television, had midnight feasts, bonded, forced ourselves to stay up way past our bedtimes, and perhaps most importantly, whispered secrets - dreams, insecurities, things we haven’t admitted to anyone before.

Everyone who takes part in a sleepover knows, it’s not always about what time (or where) you feel asleep, it’s also about the ritual of waking up. In the morning, friends start to climb into eachother’s beds, chat about the night before, and as you wake slowly – being grateful that you were able to bare your soul – knowing that your vulnerability was accepted, appreciated, and reciprocated.

As adults, friends typically meet up over a meal, or at an event – tidy blocks of time, just long enough to catch up on major life events, that have occurred since the last tidy block, weeks or months prior. Sleepovers have evolved from the traditional single night stay at our respective parents' homes, to week-long holidays and visits to each-other in new geographies. And while girls’ weekends are wonderful, and important, and necessary (some of my favourite memories, have been made on these holidays), these weekends are not quite “normal” life. When friends go away together, it’s usually the culmination of months of planning – it feels momentous (it is momentous). But spending a night with friends shouldn’t need to be that big of a deal.

There is something very special about casual sleepovers. The routine – getting ready for bed, falling asleep, moving around in the morning. Tannen calls this “meta closeness”. We typically move through these kinds of routines alone, with members of our immediate family, or romantic partners. We instinctively feel closer and more connected to friends who experience the mundane-ness and intimacy of routine with us.

As women grow older, and as we move past our school days, sleepovers become less frequent, occasionally stopping completely. As this happens, we lose something incredibly important. Sleepovers are important – especially for adults. They're playful and restorative, and a reminder to appreciate your friends, and remember that you are loved and supported. They help counter the other parts of life that seem to move so quickly.

With Valentine’s day upon us, it might be worth assessing which relationships we value over others, and why that is. I think that there is a case to be made, for being vulnerable and soft with, and loving deeply and unconditionally – friends, and those that treat us well.

This February we’re celebrating love & friendship. We’ve launched a new collection inspired by the magic of sleepovers - Meethay Khwayib, the Sweet Dreams collection. For weekends, weekdays, late nights, early mornings, and all the spaces in between. Hers & hers .

[1] Tannen, Deborah. You're the Only One I Can Tell: inside the Language of Women's Friendships. Virago Press, 2019.

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