Your little one is finally old enough (fingers crossed) to host her first official sleepover. While she’s jazzed to stay up all night with a group of friends, you’re bracing yourself for impending disaster. Everyone knows sleepovers can go from super fun to a tsunami of tears, desperate phone calls home and the eventual deserter, faster than you can say, “lights out.”
Employ these tips and tricks and your rugrat’s first sleepover is guaranteed to be an “overnight” success.
1. Keep it small.
Yes, your child wants to invite the entire soccer team, but it’s best to keep the first overnight to a limited number of guests. And by limited, we mean three or four kids tops.
2. Have a strong say in who’s invited.
Dynamic is everything at a sleepover. Try to gather a small group you know gets along with one another. While disagreements will occur (especially around bedtime), this is a quick, easy way to keep them to a minimum.
3. Know the guests.
Simply put: Kids who’ve been to your house are less likely to have an, “I want to go home,” meltdown…
4. …And their parents.
You’ll feel more comfortable hosting their child, they’ll feel more comfortable leaving them with you for the evening. Make sure you get the dish on any dietary requirements (a trip to the emergency room is never fun). And don’t be afraid to ask if their child needs a nightlight, a pre-bed trip to the bathroom, or even a phone call home before lights out.
5. Plan a list of activities.
While free play is great, every parent knows that leaving a group of seven-year-olds to their own devices for too long can quickly lead to a reenactment of Lord of the Flies. Before the party, it’s a smart move for you and your daughter to come up with a list of activities for the evening. This could be anything from taking the group bowling, hitting up the local pizza parlor for a slice, or picking out a few group games they can play at home.
6. Serve fun food.
A healthy, balanced diet is important. But let’s be frank: Serving celery sticks at a sleepover is a major buzz kill. A slice of pizza, some morning pancakes, or even a little candy isn’t going to kill anyone. Just make sure you’ve been forthright with all the parents about what’s being served, and curb the sugar intake an hour or so before bedtime.
7. Set a bedtime.
Although your daughter and their friends may have grand plans to stay up all night, you still want to squeeze in those 40 winks (and avoid dealing with pint-size, sleep-deprived monsters come morning). Agree on a bedtime in advance. For a first sleepover, a good rule is that kids are allowed to stay up an hour or so past their usual “lights out.” That doesn’t guarantee they’ll go to sleep, but at least they’ll be tucked in and (fingers crossed) on their way.
8. End with a movie.
After all the party hubbub, it’s a sneaky way to get kids to wind down before bed. Pre-movie, encourage your little one and their guests to get into pajamas and set up their sleeping bags and pillows. Let them get cozy, serve up a few sugar-free snacks, and put on a flick that won’t get them all riled up (translation: nothing remotely scary).