When kids reach a certain age, they start begging to have friends over for sleepovers or to sleep at a friend’s house. While some families aren’t comfortable letting their kids sleep over at a friend’s house, it’s a pretty safe thing for them to do. When you and enough other parents are ready, it’s time to let someone be the first to host. If you know what you’re doing, you can make even this first one a relatively peaceful slumber party.
Don’t Invite More Than You’re Willing To Handle
The right number of kids is very important to a good slumber party. You don’t want more kids sleeping over than you’re comfortable with.
Because my youngest daughter’s recent slumber party was the first that any of her friends had had, I let her invite all the girls in her class. To keep the number who actually slept over down, however, I gave the parents an easy out by noting that the kids were just as welcome to come for a few hours as they were for overnight.
We had 10 guests for the party, but only three slept over.
Next year, we won’t invite nearly as many because I expect that more will be allowed to sleep over. I had several parents comment that now their kids wanted to do a slumber birthday party. I expect these are about to become common with her friends. We invited a lot because I knew for certain that not all would be allowed to stay.
If you want the kids to sleep at all, get through the sugary parts of the party early on. Serve birthday cake and ice cream as soon as possible. It’s a party, so if you want to serve dessert before dinner, do it. No one will tell you you’re wrong.
The only sugar you want the kids to have later in the evening is in hot chocolate. Make hot chocolate with warm milk, not water, as a late treat for the kids. Warm milk is supposed to make people tired, after all. The hot chocolate makes it sound enough like a treat that most kids will be happy to drink it.
At my youngest daughter’s recent slumber birthday party, the kids were talking about grabbing the goodie bags in the evening, as the kids who couldn’t sleep over left. I didn’t allow that. Extra sugar at a time that you want the kids to start getting tired is not a good plan.
If the kids really need a snack, popcorn is a good choice. You’ll probably have to vacuum up the mess in the morning, but it won’t get the kids too wound up.
Keep Them Active At First
While having a bunch of kids running all around and being noisy is tiring for the parents, it’s also the best way to tire them enough that they might sleep later. Even if they don’t sleep, they might be tired enough to be quiet when you’re ready to sleep.
We’re lucky enough to have a large garage that has been set up as a playroom for the kids. Kids can get pretty wild in there. The backyard is usually fair game too. Don’t let the kids get too wild outside too late, or you’ll bother your neighbors, but otherwise, it’s a very good idea to get them running around.
Kids at a slumber party always want to stay up super late, if not all night. The more active you keep them early on, the better chance you have that they’ll either fall asleep or be content to play quietly.
What activities are you and the other parents okay with at a slumber party. Can the kids put on makeup? What shows or movies can they watch? When do things need to quiet down?
At my daughter’s recent slumber party, which movie to watch was a huge discussion among the girls because one family had very strict rules. She could only watch things her parents had previously approved.
Fortunately, that included a lot of Disney movies. They settled on Brave. Some of them started yelling at the screen when Merida got her first bow as a little girl and she wasn’t shooting it right. Archery is popular in our area, and some of the kids know full well how it should be done. It was kind of hilarious watching them yell about it.
Set aside places where the kids can’t go. My bedroom and any sibling bedrooms are off limits during slumber parties without specific permission. So is my home office. I now have a “Beware of Dragon” sign on my home office door. It fit with my daughter’s party theme, and I keep my fireplace dragon in my office for safekeeping during parties anyhow.
Have Parent Contact Information
You probably won’t need to contact any parents, but have contact information for them anyhow. I save all of them on my cell phone as they RSVP, but some parents also like to write it down at drop off.
Some kids will bring cell phones and be able to call their parents themselves, but I still like to have a number for my own use.
The younger the kids are, the more likely you are to need to call a parent. Minor injuries are common when they’re playing, and little kids can be very sensitive about what would be a minor disagreement to older kids. Sometimes a child who thinks they’re ready to sleep over at a friend’s house discovers late at night that they really aren’t ready for that.
Be Ready For Minor Accidents
Stuff happens when kids get together for a party. They play a little rough and bump heads. Someone trips and falls.
For these kinds of accidents, make sure your basic first aid kit is available. You don’t need anything fancy most of the time, but you should be ready. Excited kids get rough with each other sometimes.
You should also be ready for the kinds of accidents that involve spilling food or drink all over the place. Slumber parties can be messy. If there’s a place in your house where you can’t have that kind of a mess, don’t let them bring food or drink there.
And yes, be ready for bathroom accidents if the kids are younger. I’ve had to loan out clothing at sleepovers when a child got too busy playing to go to the bathroom on time. I kept things very matter of fact and found something for the child to wear. No need to embarrass them or let any of the other kids know what happened.
Keep the bathroom light on at night. Somebody will probably need it, and you want them to find it without any trouble at all.
The #1 Rule For A Peaceful Slumber Party
There is one rule my mother taught me about hosting a peaceful slumber party for kids. It strikes fear into the hearts of the children sleeping over, and they will try very hard to keep you from invoking the rule.
If you wake a parent, they get to join the party.
Trust me. Kids don’t want mom or dad joining the party. I’ve seen eyes go big at the mere mention of this rule.
You don’t have to explain what you’ll do if you have to join the party. The kids’ imaginations will usually do plenty. If they ask, I give an evil smile and tell them to wait and see. So far, that has always been enough.
When the kids are little, they get one reminder if they wake me. That’s the most I’ve ever had to do. I’ll sometimes hear kids shushing each other if things start to get a little loud, because while some kids might be willing to risk the consequences of having an adult join the party, most really, really don’t want that. So long as the noise gets under control quickly, I don’t actually join the party.
Do have a plan for if you have to join the party. My husband says he will make the kids watch nature documentaries. I don’t actually have a plan for what I would do (don’t tell my kids!), aside from trying to bore the kids, but I have no doubt that I could make them regret waking me – without so much as raising my voice.
We also have a rule that I’m the parent who will join the party if it’s girls sleeping over, while my husband would handle it for boys. I don’t expect any problems with either of us handling things, but some families are very sensitive about that.
Nine times out of ten, this rule will give parents a good night’s sleep without demanding that the kids go to sleep at a particular time. Anyone who has ever been to or hosted a slumber party knows how reluctant kids are to go to sleep at anything resembling a decent hour.
Do you have any tips for hosting a peaceful slumber party that doesn’t wear parents out? What do your kids like to do when they have friends sleep over?