Slumber Party Success: 8 Tips To Help You Become a Sleepover Superstar
Sleepover, slumber party, bunkin’ party, pajama party: whatever you call it, tweens love ‘em. You probably have great memories of your own childhood sleepovers—all-nighters spent gabbing in your best friend’s basement or camping out in tents in the backyard. Now that you’re an adult, you probably realize that those carefree extravaganzas took a lot of time and planning by someone. Help your kids have a memorable sleepover (and hold onto your sanity) with these tips:
1. Control the numbers.
“Keep it small and simple,” says Becky Bahnks, a guidance counselor at Collegeville Elementary School in Bryant and mom to two Ty, 11, and Coop, 7. “In this day and age, it’s easy to want to go overboard and overindulge. However, most kids still just want to ‘play.’ By keeping your guest list small—5 guests or less—you keep it manageable for you and your child to tend to all the guests and not feel overwhelmed.”
2. Communicate with other parents.
Do any of the guests have food allergies or special needs? Are they allowed to do this or that? Who gets homesick easily? Talk to each child’s parents before the slumber party to determine if you need to adjust any plans or make any accommodations to make each child feel comfortable. Write down each parent’s best contact information in case an emergency arises, and coordinate a pick-up time for the next morning.
3. Go over the house rules.
Parents should also review the house rules with your child and other parents. Katherine Blackmon, mom to Elliott Solis, 10, says, “My only rule is to be kind to each other. And when I do tell them to do something, they better do it.” Other rules you might implement: no gossiping, no leaving out other sleepover pals, no mean-spirited pranks (who wants to wake up with a face full of shaving cream?), etc.
4. Talk to your child about being a good host.
Before the sleepover, take the time to talk about the qualities of being a host for friends. For example, you can encourage your tween to introduce any friends who haven’t met before, thank each guest for attending the party and model fair play if you’re planning party games. “Fair play among children is really just good sportsmanship and respect for others,” states EmilyPost.com. “It includes the practice of kindness, taking turns and sharing.”
5. Plan a menu.
Tweens can be ravenous creatures, so stock up on plenty of snacks ahead of time. Your menu can be planned to match the theme of the party, but make it easy on yourself—unless meticulously decorating cake balls is one of the party activities, of course. Remember: If you want to be asleep at a decent hour, limit the caffeine and sugar options.
6. Put the phones away.
Speaking of rules, “technology and slumber parties is new territory for many parents in the 10-12 age group,” says Bahnks. “Make it clear to both children and parents what the ‘technology rules’ are at your house. For example, parents should share their rules on texting, taking and posting pictures, playing ‘M’-rated video games, watching movies, and more.” Or, you can ask party guests to hand over their phones when they arrive and stash them in a safe place until morning. If your tween wants to take pictures of their fun night, go old-school and hand over a pack of disposal cameras. Another cool option is the FujiFilm Instax camera; the modern-day version of the Polaroid spits out pics in an instant.
7. Pick an activity.
You don’t want things to be too structured (uncool!), but you should plan some activities so that the kids don’t get bored. “I try to have a couple of things planned—a craft, a movie, something to cook or bake, maybe an outing,” says Blackmon. “I like to actually DO things with them: go roll on the hills by the Clinton Center; get cocoa at Starbucks; do a photo scavenger hunt with our cameras; go sketch at one of our museums. Usually, we only end up doing one or two of what I have planned,” Blackmon says. “Once you get them in a creative mode, they take over and put on plays, make movies and act like kids!”
Have a big backyard? Pull out sports equipment or make plans for a bonfire. If the weather isn’t cooperative, pick out a few board games (make sure that everyone can play at once, so no one gets left out!). If the plan is to have a movie night, pre-screen any movies to make sure they are age-appropriate, or visit a site like www.CommonSenseMedia.org to read reviews aimed at parents.
8. Give them space.
You want to make sure things are going well, but resist the urge to hover. “Interact with them to supervise and participate, but without being overbearing or trying to be ‘one of the kids,’” Bahnks suggests. “Remember, this is your child’s party. They want and need you to be the parent.”