If you’ve asked your child what they’d like to do this weekend, then a likely response is ‘sleepover!’ This can be a request that parents dread— doesn’t it mean hyper children, a sleepless night and the potential for tears and arguments in the early hours? It’s understandable that you might be a little nervous, especially if this is the first sleepover you’ve hosted. There are, however, a number of steps you can take to ensure a stress-free experience, so get that sofa bed out and give your child the go ahead.
Image by Jolante van Hemert, shared under a Creative Commons Licence
It makes things much easier for you if you set the numbers and stick to it. If this is the first sleepover you’ve hosted then it’s especially helpful to keep numbers low. A sleepover with one or two close friends can be just as exciting, and will help to avoid some of the problems that can crop up in larger groups. Choose your number and stick to it!
It’s also worth considering your child’s choice of friends. Do they all know each other? Get on well? It’s best not to take any chances with kids falling out or clashing.
Communicating with other parents
It’s a good idea to have a chat with each parent before arrangements are confirmed. Has their child been to a sleepover before? Were there any problems? If they’re prone to wetting the bed or afraid of the dark then you need to know this.
There are also things like allergies and bed time routines to take into consideration. Find out what time each child usually goes to bed, for example. It’s worth checking that parents are happy for kids to phone if they get a little anxious, or pick them up if they’re really not happy.
The fun parts
Now you’ve got the invites and arrangements with parents sorted it’s time to focus on the fun. Set aside a room in the house for the sleepover and clear floor space for places to sleep where the guests can use sleeping bags or sofa beds. Perhaps your child will want to watch movies, or play board games. It’s best to arrange activities before hand and stick to a plan. If a movie is on the cards, set a start time so that it doesn’t finish too late, and limit sweet treats to the first part of the film only.
It’s a good idea to go through things with the kids at the start of the sleepover, including when they’ll eat, what activities are laid on and when it will be time to sleep. Outline what kind of behaviour is expected and what they can do if they do start to feel a little scared or upset. It’s important that kids feel safe and reassured. By keeping it small and structured you should have no problems surviving your child’s first sleepover.
Tracy Emily is a busy mother of three and survivor of many, many sleepovers. When not recovering from hosting kids parties, she can be found relaxing with her dog, Vince.