"Mom, can I have a sleepover? Abbi, Paige and a few others want to come over this weekend." There it is. The question you've been hopelessly trying to avoid for years. She's older, and her friends are persistent. Before you know it, they'll be asking to stay the night weekend after weekend. Even better? She's gonna want to go to their house, too. Before you agree to the first sleepover, prepare yourself.
Meet the Parents
Some moms won't allow their children to stay the night at a friend's house.
"I don’t allow my daughter to stay at someone else's house, however, I will let her friends stay over at our house," says Keisha Brown. "This is a really good question because it amazes me how some kids’ parents let them stay over and have NEVER met me."
Brown makes a good point. First thing you should do is meet the parents of all the children involved. If you feel comfortable leaving your children with them, they should feel the same about you. Invite them over to your house so they can get a feel for your home life.
Local mom Bekah Wells agrees.
"More often than not, my house is the gathering spot," says Wells. "If there is even going to be a possibility of a sleepover, I have to have met them a few times at least, and in different settings. I like to have them over to my house at least once, and then I will make a point to go to their house. I don’t care how nice you seem, if your house is not safe for my kids, they will not be spending the night," she adds.
An important note: share phone numbers with the parents. Just in case of an emergency.
Meet the Kids
Allowing a child to stay the night may depend on a number of factors. When you go to meet the parents, don't let the kids run off and hide. Plan a gathering where everyone is involved so you can see how the kids act. Another thing to consider is your child's maturity level for a sleepover at a friend's house.
"My child’s age and maturity level are big ones because I want them to be able to tell me what went on while they were there," says local mom Nicole Morgan Dowl.
Prepare Your Home
Make sure you've got everything you need to host a sleepover. Have your child's friends bring their own sleeping bags and pillows. If there's not enough space in your child's bedroom for all the kids, move the coffee table and allow them to spread out on the living room floor.
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Be sure to remove breakable things from the slumber party spot. Accidents can happen when kids get excited and their adrenaline is pumping, so be proactive and rid the space of anything that could be broken. Another good thing to have is a cleanup bucket nearby. That way, if the kids make a mess, they have everything they need to clean it up. Put paper towels, cleaning spray, wipes, etc. in a bucket to leave in the kitchen. Make sure they know where it is. Also, be sure there's plenty of toilet paper in the bathroom.
Break out the board games and cards, and encourage the kids to have fun with them. Also, have Netflix ready for streaming, too. Otherwise, they may default to searching YouTube for weird videos on how to make slime.
Restock the Kitchen
Find out if any children coming over have food allergies. If so, it's a good idea to wipe down your kitchen table and counters before they come over. Also, stock up on their favorite foods. Text the parents to find out what their kids like. Don't go crazy and get everything, but one or two from the majority of favorites will suffice. Have plenty to drink, too. Chatting all day and night sharing gossip will make them thirsty.
Ready Your Hideaway
Whether it be your bedroom or another room in the house, be sure you have all you need in there. The less you have to "interrupt" them, the better the chances of your child not getting frustrated with you. While you may at times want earplugs due to all the high-pitched squeals and laughter, you need to be able to hear if something happens that needs your attention.
Send Siblings Away
While you're preparing your home to open up to several other kids, your other children may feel left out. Boys might even want to sabotage the girls' night or vice versa. So, see if your other children can spend the night with a friend or family member themselves.
Get Back On Schedule Afterward
Even during the summer, kids should try to stick to their bedtime routines and schedules. A new article from Apex Leadership Co. says it's important that everyone remember it’s called summer break for a reason.
"A rest from their studies is not only well deserved after a year of hard work, it’s also necessary for kids to relax and refresh so they can return to class in just a few short months."
Apex says you should ensure that after a few late nights or sleepovers with friends, your child gets back to her usual sleep patterns. This will help ease the transition from summer to school again later.