How to Survive Sleepovers
Having friends sleepover almost is a right of passage at our house for those turning double digits. We have learned how to survive sleepovers after several what I deemed failures before ground rules were established. Sleepovers can be a great deal of fun for the children but they aren’t always fun for the parents. In fact, some parents feel they’re ill-prepared and panic at the thought of having a sleepover in their home. However, if you take time to plan the sleepover, it will be a cherished memory and it doesn’t have to be something to lose sleep over.
Talk about the guidelines
Discuss the idea of having a sleepover with your children. How many guests do they want to have? It is best to have an even number of children, including your child, so no one is left out. When would they like the sleepover to be? Will you have some time to prepare the home before the sleepover occurs?
Discuss with your child what the house rules are ahead of time. Let them know which activities are acceptable and which ones are not. For example, they aren’t to jump on the furniture and they are not to leave the house. They can, however, eat the snacks you provide, stay up until a predetermined time and have as much fun as possible. Whatever your rules are, you’ll want to be sure your child understands the rules before the sleepover and then repeat them for the guests.
Create a plan
Your child may want to give out written invitations. Be sure to include your telephone number and ask the guests’ parents to call you and confirm their child will come. This will also give you a chance to find out if their child has any special needs – do they have food allergies, do they take medication or anything similar?
Plan some activities for you to do with the children as well as board games or arts and crafts they can do on their own. If you plan craft projects, be sure you have all of the supplies you’ll need.
Depending on the ages of the children, movies are a great option, too. Borrow a movie or two from the library or get them from a movie rental business. For even more fun, if you have a video camera, let the children make their own movie. They’ll have so much fun watching themselves when the movie is finished.
Make snacks and beverages as simple as possible. Paper products will save you a ton of time and energy in clean up as will offering snacks that are finger foods. Make sure you take allergies into consideration when planning your menu. Avoid anything red..just believe me on this one. Red stains everything it comes into contact with…permanently.
We have found that the best way to make sure things go as planned and everyone is able to survive sleepovers is to set clear expectations. These need to be discussed not only with your child but with the group when they all arrive. Making sure everyone is on the same page will go a long way when the one or two act out…which will happen…count on it.
Have a schedule
Knowing what to expect and what comes next goes a long way in surviving the sleepover. We like to create a schedule and mount it in the area where the children will be spending the most time. Understand that not everyone will enjoy all the activities but knowing what is coming next can go a long way in keeping their attention.
Remember schedules are flexible. Do not schedule the entire night so tightly that you forget children run on a different time frame than adults. Everything…and I mean everything..will either take twice as long as planned or they will be done and ready to move on in less than half the blocked time.
Set clear guidelines with the parents as well. Drop off can be flexible but the pick up time needs to be clearly understood. We liked to have a set of Sleepover Contact forms printed out and on hand. On the Sleepover Contact form, the parent would fill in the information about their child and at least TWO (2) contact phone numbers. The form also included an area for the parents to make any private notes for us that they feel were important but not something that needed to be shared with all the group such as a pull up or special friend that need to be brought out at bedtime. The form also had a tear off that included our names and phone numbers so the parents could have them in case they needed to check in or if something came up with their family. Print off your Sleepover Contact Form in .doc or .pdf here.
Set a specific time for the children to go to bed. Build into this time a chance for them to settle down first. Give them an opportunity to sing, dance and be silly before making them go to bed. Depending on the ages, the transition time and activities, you will always have a few that drop off easily and at least one or more than just never seem to be able to slip off peacefully. These children may have to be moved to another location or have you sit with them until they go to sleep. Expect some tears if the children are under at least 10 years old.
So while sleepovers are stressful and always seem to take far more out of the adults than the children, it is possible to survive a sleepover if you give it forethought and plan the evening. Don’t be surprised if you hear plenty of laughing during the sleepover and possibly some complaints when it’s time for the children to go to sleep. However, if you’re willing to put up with some noise and stick to the rules you’ve laid out, you should be able to survive this sleepover and any others that follow.