Does the idea of a group of boisterous children hopped up on junk food and sugar strike terror in your heart? How about if they’re all under your roof…all night long? Scared yet? Well you don’t have to be. No, the answer isn’t to avoid hosting sleepovers all together. With a little preparation and patience you can help your child enjoy this important rite of passage and still keep your sanity.
You want your child to have a good time. When they grow up you want them to be able to look back on these times with the same fondness that you do when thinking about your own slumber parties. What you don’t want is a house full of screaming kids destroying your house at three in the morning. There’s plenty of time to worry about them doing that when they’re teenagers.
So how can make sure your child has a wonderful time yet doesn’t wreck havoc on your home while keeping yourself from being labelled the worst most un-cool mom ever?
Rules. Now you don’t want to go overboard with these and have your child’s slumber party resemble something out of a prison film. You want them to have fun, not to feel as if they can’t even move for fear of knocking something over. So it’s a fine line but you’re a parent. You’re used to balance, right?
Pick a few of the more serious rules and be willing to bend on others. Something like ‘no loud music after midnight’ is more important than ‘everybody in bed by midnight’. If they’re being reasonably quiet, who cares what time they fall asleep? That’s the fun of a slumber party, seeing how late you can stay up. Depending on the age of your child, they might not even make it to midnight anyway.
Once the idea of a slumber party is brought up, talk to the parents of those of your child’s friends that will be attending. You want to assure them that their children will be safe in your care. Ask about any food allergies or any other guidelines you need to be informed about. Some kids can handle scary movies, some can’t. Some kids prefer some foods over others. Be sure you know all this stuff in the beginning stages so you can plan things like snacks and entertainment and don’t find yourself scrambling at the last minute to replace games or foods or find yourself with a sick child who you didn’t know was allergic to peanuts when you set those PB&J sandwiches out for him.
When you have all the info you need it’s time to start planning. Let your child in on the planning stages so he can feel some ownership and pride on the day that he helped to make the most fun night ever. Keep things small, maybe three or four children only. More and you’re asking for trouble. Let your child pick out a few of the snacks. Make it challenging by giving them the option to choose one healthy and one not-so-healthy snack themselves. Remember, chocolate and chips are okay on occasion and will gain you more ‘cool mom’ points than if you put out nothing but vegetables and fruit. Besides, if you put anything around a dip, kids are more than likely to try it so make sure there are a variety of healthy as well as fun snacks.
Get your house ready for the invasion…er…party. Make sure you have enough clean towels, sheets, pillows and blankets. If you have any sleeping bags around, kids would prefer this to sleeping on a bed. It’s more fun to crowd around on the floor in a sleeping bag cause it adds to the adventurous atmosphere and feeling that they’re camping with their friends, without the added worry of bears, and strange creepy crawlies that frequent the outdoors. Though if the weather is nice, setting up a tent in the backyard could be a lot of fun for your child and his friends. Ask him/her what they would like best.
Prepare your bathroom with extra toilet paper and make room for the extra toothbrushes and hair brushes and accessories. If you don’t already have one, a soap dispenser is a good sanitary investment for a busy bathroom.
Choose with your child the toys they would like to bring out and share for the night along with movies they’d like to watch and games to play. Let them know that if they decide to pull out more things as the night goes on, then they have to remember that will be more for them to tidy up later.
When the kids arrive let them all know where to find the bathroom, where they’ll be sleeping and where you’ll be should they need you later on.
Plan the games for early in the evening and save the movies for later. Engaging in some fun games like charades or other active games will expend a lot of energy and make kids more likely to settle down when night comes and they snack and watch movies. Don’t worry about planning a big dinner for the group. They will be grazing on snacks until they pass out so there’s no worry that they’ll go hungry. Make things easy on yourself by heating up some spaghetti and meatballs or making some sandwiches and then leave them to their grazing.
Make sure you make it clear by what time any music needs to be turned off or the T.V lowered.
Finally, get out of the way. Check in every once in a while but don’t hover. Hovering hampers the fun. Make sure everyone will know where you’ll be if they need you but let your child play the host and take all the credit for an awesome party.
Then and only then will you finally earn your badge as the coolest mom ever.