A sleepover is a social event that children may experience at least once in their lifetime. It is a way that they can have social interactions with peers aside from attending school or participating in sports activities. Children can start to participate in sleepovers when they no longer have separation anxiety, usually when they start going to school and demonstrate that they can be a little independent and can follow certain instructions. A sleepover should be wholesome and filled with fun activities to keep the children entertained. Usually, the hosting parents and their child plan the activities ahead of time to ensure that the sleepover will be a successful one.
Decide on a Date
Deciding on a date is simple if the sleepover will be for your child’s birthday party; if it is not, you should pick out the date when most of your child’s friends can attend. Friday is probably the best day to have a sleepover because it is the end of the school week and, usually, parents are off from work the next day. A good day to have a sleepover is when it is close to spring break or summer vacation. Having good weather is always better for a sleepover to lessen the worries.
Involve the Child
Let your child participate in the planning stages. Ask for your child’s opinion on what theme he or she would like for the party. Have your child give you the names of the children who will be invited. Involve you child in designing the invitations, preparing them and handing them out. Ask your child’s opinion about what food and drinks to serve and what activities to have. Some children prefer theme parties, such as a princess party for the girls or a pirate party for the boys. Let your child choose the theme he or she prefers.
Meet Other Parents
Meet the parents of the invited children. It is always good to follow up with them about the details of the party to ensure that there are no misunderstandings, since children sometimes tend to relay differing messages that can be confusing. You can give the other parents a checklist that they should fill out. Information to include on the checklist would be personal items their children will need to bring such as toothbrushes, face towels, pajamas, underwear, socks, sweater, jacket and slippers. Advise them to note down if their children have allergies and what type they are. If their children take any medications, such as inhalers for asthma, have them write down the information and include them in the items for their children to bring. Get the other parents’ contact information during the sleepover.
Allow the parents of the children invited to do a walk-through of your house. They may also raise concerns about safety and security. For example, ensure that you have a working smoke detector, plan an escape route drill with the children and ensure that there is no alcohol served during the sleepover. The National Fire Protection Agency has a checklist for parents; please click on their link under Resources.
Aside from the checklist, you may want to ask for the other parents’ opinions. Some parents may have already been through some sleepovers and may have helpful tips for you. Let them participate or help if they offer, however, do not impose on them too much.
Aside from gathering information from other parents who have already hosted sleepovers for their children, you can find additional information to help plan yours. For example, you can read parenting and children’s magazines or research online about hosting sleepover parties. You can also ask your co-workers, friends and families for suggestions for your child’s sleepover party.
Lay Out a Plan
As in any party, you should have a well-laid-out plan for your child’s sleepover. Create a checklist of tasks to accomplish, such as sending invitations, gathering materials or props to use, and planning the food, drinks, decorations, activities or games, prizes and party favors.
Put a schedule of activities on a piece of paper or a poster board for children to see. For example, for dinnertime you can put in 6:00 PM, dancing and singing at 7:00 PM, games at 8:00 PM, movie with snacks at 9:00 PM, get ready to go to bed at 11:00 PM.
Have your child check the schedule to ensure that she follows it. Make sure to check up on the children often, but do not hover around so that they can enjoy their time together. Set the ground rules for lights out and noise to ensure that everyone, including the neighbors, will have a good night’s sleep.