Sleepovers have always been popular in my house. They’re fun, and your kids get to practice being independent and can boost social skills within the safe environment of your home. Sleepovers, however, can also be a source of fear and stress not only for the parents hosting but also the kids.
With three kids, I’m a survivor of many sleepovers. Here are my tips on how to make it a positive experience for all involved.
Wait Until Your Child Is Truly Ready
There’s no set age, but clinical psychologist Kristi Alexander highly recommends you study your child’s bedtime habits before letting him or her attend an all-nighter, regardless of age. “If your child has an elaborate bedtime routine, needs your comfort during the night or clings or cries when you leave, you may want to postpone a sleepover,” says Alexander.
Consider Personalities and Numbers
Planning a sleepover at your house? Decide if you want to deal with one or multiple friends. Ask yourself if your child can entertain multiple guests over an extended period of time. Can they all get along as a group? Consider their personalities and aim for an even number of kids, including the host.
Share and Get Details
Invitations should state drop-off and pickup time, what kids should bring, info about supervision, planned activities and a contact number. I even recommend a sign-in sheet so phone numbers are easy to find.
Make sure you meet the parents to exchange information. Also, prime the parents to expect to get a phone call in case their child gets homesick or out of control. I’ve even seen kids get picked up at 2 a.m., so it’s best to ensure you’re prepared beforehand.
Some fun ideas include decorating cookies or making sundaes, watching age-appropriate movies, creating a video, playing board games, doing karaoke, crafting and making forts. My kids loved to decorate white pillowcases with fabric markers. All the kids sign them before they leave. While younger children usually need a plan for activities to make the night run smoothly, older children can entertain themselves.
Stock up on Food
Load the fridge up with all types of food, such as chopped fruit, yogurts, cheese sticks, veggies and dip, and lots of cold drinks. Pizza is always popular at sleepovers, but homemade burgers or chicken fingers are a great alternative.
Make sure food items in the fridge are at kid height so they can help themselves. As well, prepare for forgotten sleep necessities. Have extra blankets, pillows and toiletries available. I’ve given out many toothbrushes over the years.
Make It an Early Pick-Up Time
When planning the next morning, don’t make the pickup time any later than 10 a.m. Most kids (and let’s be honest, parents) are cranky after a sleepover, but ending early alleviates some of that and gives you more time to recover.
Sleepovers are a childhood staple. While they seem like an ordeal, there’s no need for them to be stressful. Follow these tips next time you host a sleepover and help your kids create some magical memories and even stronger bonds of friendship.
Have you hosted a kids sleepover and lived to tell the tale? Give tips to other parents by commenting below!