I did it. I survived my first sleepover.
Samantha is 6 1/2, in first grade, and has been asking about having one since kindergarten. And I’ve been hemming and hawing, not sure I was ready for such a big step. I mean, there’s the giggling, and the staying up late, and the giggling, and the not going to sleep. Yeah, I like my sleep. A lot. I have to say, I was scared these 6 year olds would take me down.
Finally, though, I decided it was time. So Friday, we had one friend spend the night. We had pizza, chocolate fondue, and a movie before bed. The girls went to sleep at about 9:30, about an hour and a half past their usual bedtime, but not too bad. Overall, I’d say it was a huge success and here are some things I did to ensure it was, for both Sammy and me. I have three girls, there are a lot of sleepovers in my future, no need to be traumatized from the get go.
1. Choose the Friend Wisely
Sammy has multiple friends she would like to have sleep over. She has three we have regular play dates with and with whose parents I’m comfortable. I made the suggestion of which of those friends should sleepover. I chose the friend who is well behaved, was likely to spend the entire night without needing me to call her parents, and who I thought would actually sleep.
One of the other girls is a little bit more timid and I thought she’d wind up wanting to leave before bed, leaving Sammy disappointed. The other girl is a little bit more of a handful and I just wasn’t up to an all night party.
Also, I limited it to one friend this time. I didn’t want to take on more than I could handle.
2. Choose the Weekend Wisely
I intentionally chose a 3 day weekend to make sure everyone would have an extra day to rest if needed. If there are tests coming up, that might not be the right time to have a sleep over. School breaks are also a good thought.
3. Don’t Sugar the Kids Up
Yes, we had chocolate fondue, but with fruit for dipping, not cake. I did not want the kids super revved up, so I used dark chocolate (less sugar), and stayed away from foods with lots of white sugar in them, like cookies. There will be plenty of time for crazy, sugar high sleepovers, just not the first one.
4. Plan Easy Activities
I planned a movie and let our guest choose which she wanted. Crafts are fun, and I’m sure we’ll do that at some point, but I had no intention of cleaning that up. Also, letting the kids choose their own activities can lead to riled up kids. (Again, the no sleeping thing.)
5. Don’t Forget Siblings
My girls are close enough in age, and because of the play dates, are used to playing with Sammy’s friends, but you may need to plan some special activities, especially for younger siblings, so they don’t feel left out if the older kids want to be alone. Talk to the siblings about what is going to happen, who is spending the night, and where everyone will be sleeping. Also remind them that they will have their own sleepovers at some point, but for this one, they are to give their other sibling some time with her friend alone. Remind them of this frequently during the actual sleepover. I found I especially needed to remind Ella of this at bedtime. She wanted to play with them in the room. I think they would have slept earlier if not for her. (Also, this lets me know Ella isn’t ready for a sleep over of her own yet.)
6. Plan Sleeping Arrangements
Sleeping bags on the floor might work, depending on the set up of your house. We only have carpet in only one room and it happens to be where the t.v. is, so that doesn’t work for us (because I want to watch t.v. after they’re in bed). Some people have extra beds or a pull out couch that might seem special to your kids. We have an air mattress for when we travel and think we might need some extra sleeping space. I put Sammy and her friend in a separate room on the air mattress for sleeping so they could giggle and talk.
7. Plan on Being Up Late
Just plan that the kids are going to be giggling and talking. That’s okay, it’s a sleepover. But set some rules, like they have to stay in the room and keep it to a whisper so other people can sleep. And no fridge raiding.
8. Reassure the Parents
For a lot of parents, this is a big thing to have their child sleep at someone else’s house. Make sure you have their numbers and reassure them you’ll call if their child asks to go home early. It may even be appropriate to have a late night that ends at bedtime instead of an actual sleepover the first time. Also, let them know your plans and make sure they’re comfortable with them.
I texted the mom when we were getting into bed and when the girls fell asleep so she would know everything was going ok.
9. Have a Clear Ending Plan
Discuss with the other parent when the sleepover is ending and who is responsible for getting the friend back home. Sam’s friend went home at 8 in the morning because they needed to go somewhere. I suggest a relatively early ending to the sleep over. Breakfast is fine, but everyone is going to be tired the next day, so you don’t need the friend staying until lunch.
10. Have Fun
We certainly had a fun time. Samantha feels like a big girl now that she’s had a sleepover. Her friend had fun and I’m sure will come back again. That’s really the goal, to make the first sleepover pleasant for everyone, including you. I even got a pretty normal night’s sleep. Imagine that?
Do you have any tips for successful sleepovers? What age did your children start having sleepovers?