Sleepover Parties

Sleepover parties are one of the great joys of childhood. Yet often, parents shy away from them because of certain worries (What if the guests break something? What if they have nothing to do and are running wild all over the house?).

Good news: we have the perfect solution for you. Four of them, in fact. Here are the top concerns parents have about hosting sleepovers, and why a few simple ground rules will keep things fun and exciting for them–and smooth and stress-free for you.

“What if they Break Things or Get Hurt?”

Yes, accidents can happen. But if you take the age and maturity of your child into consideration, as well as the personalities of the invitees, your chances of a safe and happy sleepover party definitely increase. If your child wants to invite a friend who’s known to be on the wild side, gently tell her that may not be a great idea this time and steer her toward a quieter choice. (Yes, you’re the parent—you can do that.)

Also limit the number of guests. Five kids you know you can really trust, or three younger kids or rambunctious friends, are a good guideline.

  • The Fun Factor: By designating a certain area they kids must stay in, they’ll actually feel more “grown-up”…especially if you leave them alone there. Keep an ear out, of course.
  • For Your Sanity: Kids may NOT jump or stand on the furniture and they may only go into the room or rooms you designate. Just before the party, “craziness-proof” the room as much as possible. Take out anything you’d be heartbroken to lose, such as a special figurine or wall hanging.

“Won’t They Run Wild All Over the Place?”

Keep the party guests occupied so they’re not tearing around with no goal in mind. Kids create their own fun, but you can make things even more exciting by renting movies, buying board games (or pulling old ones out of the closet), or setting up a craft guests can do. Run your movie choices past the other parents first, then out of those, tell the guests they can select their favorites.

  • The Fun Factor: Try Monopoly or Sorry games along with some groovin’ background music to get the party going. If they’ll be doing a craft, supervise, but unobtrusively. Stay on the perimeter and let them make their creations without too much interference. They’ll love having something interesting to do before settling down (a little) for the night.
  • For Your Sanity: Give noisy activities a time limit (say, half an hour for the craft and an hour of board games). Set a time for the lights being lowered and your child and her guests to settle into blankets or sleeping bags, too. They can stay awake after that time, but they should talk quietly, and they can’t run around or ask for more food past that deadline.

“They’ll Want to Eat Junk All Night.”

You can relax a little on your usual household food rules for this one night–after all, it’s a party. Call parents in advance  to make sure nobody has a food restriction or medical concern with food, then put together snacks that feel “fun” to them but decrease your guilt.

  • The fun factor: If it’s for a birthday, you’ll of course be having a birthday cake at the party. Another alternative is cupcakes. Don’t serve candy in addition to this. Tell the children it will be “snack time” when the movie comes on, and be ready with popcorn, Chex Mix, whole-grain crackers, and crunchy veggies and pretzels with ranch dip.

For drinks, stay away from soda. Give the guests unlimited access to bottled water, and serve them juice when they ask for it. Serve the juice in sports bottles to reduce the possibility of spilling and staining.

  • For your sanity: Give kids access to snacks during a specific time period only—say, the first and last movies. In between, tell them the maid is off duty and will not be serving. Trust me, they’ll be having so much fun with what they consider to be out-of-the-ordinary rule breaking (like the late bedtime, for instance) that they’ll be glad to obey this simple rule.

“They’ll Hang Around the Next Day and Never Leave.”

We know, we know…you love your kids’ friends to death, but after a night of revelry on their part you’ll probably want some peace in the house.

  • The fun factor: It’s all been fun…so don’t worry about imposing the rule below…
  • For your sanity: When sending invitations to the party, clearly write down a pickup time for Mom and Dad. (“The party will begin at 7:00 on Friday night and will end at 10:30 AM on Saturday. We’ll have your child ready to be picked up at that time.”)

Relax, have fun…and realize that your child really is growing up. She can handle things (neatness, rules, her friends) better than you think. She will absolutely love her birthday sleepover…try it and I promise she’ll be begging for more sleepovers soon.