It’s fair to say that hosting a sleepover is not every parent’s idea of a relaxing evening. Sugary drinks, video games and a lack of sleep can be a disruptive mix, especially when multiplied by half a dozen kids.
But as parents, it’s kind of our job to suck it up from time to time. Sleepovers are, after all, a rite of passage. You can’t deny your kids a formative experience, just so you can enjoy the quiet life!
However, that’s not to say you should abandon the sleepover to anarchy. Rules are a must, for your’s and the kids’ sake. That’s why we’ve put together this quick guide on sleepover tips for parents, to help make your life a little bit easier if you’re hosting a sleepover at your home.
Decide on the guest list
To stop a sleepover from getting out of hand ahead of time, you need to put a sensible limit on the number of friends your child invites. A good rule of thumb is that the younger they are, the smaller the guest list should be. Ten 13-year-olds may be manageable, but ten 8-year-olds could be a different matter entirely.
Also, don’t feel under pressure to invite every child who’s previously invited your son or daughter to a sleepover at theirs. You have to set a limit that you’re comfortable with, then work with your child to decide which of their friends they want to invite up to this limit.
Coordinate with the other parents
Again, the age of your child and their friends will determine the amount of coordination you feel is necessary with the other parents. If your child is elementary school-aged, then it’s definitely best to talk to all of the parents first. This way you can let them know what to pack for the sleepover, confirm start and end time, and check any dietary requirements.
Establish ground rules
Set clear expectations from the start by laying down some ground rules. It’s best to lay these out when you first say yes to the sleepover, as a condition of you agreeing to it in the first place. Some of the key points to cover include:
- Lights-out time
- Internet and device usage limits
- Suitable films and tv shows
- Soda and snack limits
- Areas inside the house that are out of bounds
- Boundary limits outside the house
You should also set clear expectations and make the consequences known for certain behaviors, such as:
- Sneaking out of the house
Plan some activities
While teenagers may be content with pizza and PS4, you might want to have some sleepover games and activities up your sleeve if it’s a younger crowd. Karaoke, dance contests, and scavenger hunts are all tried and tested favorites.
Or if you’re planning a more low key party with just a couple of guests, then having a few board games at the ready or some pre-approved films and TV shows lined up on your streaming platform is always a good idea.
Keep food simple
Cooking dinner and breakfast for up to a dozen hungry souls is another headache we all face. But remember, you’re not throwing a dinner party, so don’t stress yourself out by cooking your signature dishes. Keep it simple, and by simple we mean easy.
Pizza, chicken wings and hamburgers are all classics. But you can also easily add some healthy choices as well, such as rice, grilled vegetables, and fruit slices. And for a stress-free breakfast, just buy a selection of bagels, spreads, and cereals, as well as plenty of milk and juice.
You could even go one step further and have the kids make their own pizza or tacos with their favorite toppings.
Try and plan any big activities on the day of the sleepover
If you’re combining any big activities, then it’s best to arrange these on the same day as the sleepover, rather than the day after. The kids will be full of energy at this point, which is much better than trying to rouse a bunch of cranky tired kids the next day. Plus it’s a great way to get them to burn off all their energy for a more subdued evening.
Decide on the finish time ahead of time
Whatever you do, never say “oh, come pick them up whenever”. Tempers can quickly begin to fray the morning after the night before when tiredness starts to kick in. You could set a time that’s based around your mealtimes, such as setting the finish time at 11 am, so you can have some quiet family time for lunch.
And if you’re going to hand out sleepover favor bags when it comes to home time, here are some sleepover gift bag ideas.
Expect the unexpected! When dealing with a bunch of excitable kids spending the night away from home, anything could happen. Sickness, cuts, and bruises are the most common mishaps. Therefore, always have a first aid kit handy and have contact details and addresses readily available for all of your child’s guests.