A slumber party is a rite of passage for preteens. What could be better than hanging out with a group of your best friends, sleeping in sleeping bags on the floor (or outside in a tent), having pillow fights and staying up late playing with the Ouija board?
But for parents, sleepovers are another story altogether. Hosting one usually means you’ll get to enjoy a relatively sleepless night with more than a few midnight tours as the noise and fun police. But the more you’re prepared, the less stressful it will be. Here are some useful tips.
Alicia on “Planning with Their Age in Mind”
This summer, my seven-year-old daughter, Lucy, went to her first slumber party. She was anxious about it from the moment she got the invitation. She wondered, ‘Mommy, how will I fall asleep without you and Daddy there to tuck me in? What if I want to leave before everybody else and my friends laugh at me? What if I call you and you don’t answer the phone?’ She was so terrified about it that I began to get anxious about the party!
When organizing a sleepover at your house, be prepared for all sorts of situations. Keep in mind that each kid is different, so in order to keep chaos to a minimum, your goal is to make each one feel as cozy as possible.
Explain to your own child that being a good host/hostess means treating everyone nicely, even if they go home halfway through the night.
Have sufficient lighting in the sleep area and hallways that lead to the bathroom. Buy extra underwear and have a spare change of pajamas just in case of an “accident.”
Get any important information from their parents during drop-off. It’s always nice to know if Jane would like to call Mommy before bedtime or that Brian can’t sleep without a nightlight.
For older kids, sleep with one eye open and make the rules clear right off the bat. If you know your neighbours are sensitive to loud music, give the kids a time that they must be indoors. Their safety should be your No. 1 concern, and their parents trust you to be the adult in the house, even if it means you have to be the uncool parent.
Sarah on “Being Prepared for the Unexpected”
Speaking of safety, while no parent wants a guest to break an arm while playing on Johnny’s trampoline, it’s imperative that you plan for the worst. Get at least two emergency contact numbers for each child and “Permission to Treat” forms as well.
The contact information is also handy for kids who decide they don’t want to stay the whole night or there’s a conflict between children. We’d love to tell you that all slumber parties run without a hitch, but it’s just not realistic.
Our marketing co-ordinator, Ashleigh, explained that in the third grade one of her girlfriends slapped another girl at a sleepover after a dispute over Barbies got ugly. Fifteen years later, it’s a funny story. At the time, it was a nightmare for the girls and the parents. However, if you keep the list of emergency numbers handy and keep yourself ready for anything, you’ll be able to handle the situation a lot easier.
Here are a few more tips to organize your sleepover:
1. Establish the Rules — Set the rules clearly with all of the kids right away. For example, let them know things like soda and juice are only allowed in the kitchen, shoes must be taken off at the door and all music must bet turned off by 10 p.m. The sooner they know your rules, the quicker they can follow them.
2. Be On The Lookout for Food Allergies — Find out about any food allergies or sensitivities before you start making peanut-butter finger sandwiches or gluten-filled snacks. Chances are, the parents will offer this information, but if they don’t, then you should call before you go to the grocery store so you can plan the dinner, snacks and breakfast accordingly. It will save you the hassle and scariness of an allergic reaction. If you find a lot of the kids have different needs, it’s more than OK to ask their parents to pack them a safe meal or snacks. Think of it this way: You’re offering free baby-sitting services for the evening, so packing a safe meal or snack is the least they can do.
3. Keep Them Active — While the assembled group may instinctively roll their eyes at a grownup’s suggestion, don’t be deterred from giving them options. The last thing you want is a house full of bored kids. The more they have to keep them busy, the better they will sleep and the more fun they will have.
Classic group activities like Twister, Kick the Can and karaoke are always fun. If your kids are in the younger group, having dress-up clothes will certainly be a hit, and you can’t really go wrong with a movie.
Let the kids choose what movie they want and watch it yourself to make sure it’s appropriate.
The writers are co-founders of Buttoned Up, a company dedicated to helping stressed women get organized. Send ideas and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org