Slumber parties are a right of passage for pre-teens. 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, staying up late playing with the “Ouija” board, and prank calling the local pizza shop? 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 local noise and fun police. But the more you’re prepared, the less stressful it will be. Read on to get some useful tips for organizing the best sleepover in the town!
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 too! When organizing a sleepover at your house, be prepared for all sorts of situations. Keep in mind that all kids are different and to keep chaos at 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 as well. 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 of the night clear right off the bat. If you know your neighbors are sensitive to loud music, give them a time that they must be indoors. If you think they might sneak out to toilet paper their coach’s house or fork one of their friend’s yards, be sure it’s all in jest and no one can get hurt. Their safety should be your number one 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 their arm while playing on Johnny’s trampoline, it’s imperative that you plan for the worst, just in case. 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 if you have 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 coordinator, Ashleigh, explained that in the 3rd 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 10pm. 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 items. Chances are the parents will offer this information. But if they don’t 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 of an allergic reaction to a cake that you didn’t realize was made in a factory that also handled peanuts. If you find a lot of the kids have different needs, it’s more than okay to ask their parents to pack them a safe meal or snacks. Think of it this way, you’re offering free babysitting service 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 grown up’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 games like Twister, Kick the Can, Karaoke, etc. 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.
We are the co-founders of Buttoned Up, Inc., a company dedicated to helping stretched and stressed women get themselves organized and co-authors of “Everything (almost) In Its Place.” We welcome your thoughts! Please send ideas and questions to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us at www.getbuttonedup.com