Does the word sleepover fill you with dread and panic? Well not every sleepover has to turn into a riot that keeps you and your neighbours up all night. You may not mind some noise and loss of sleep, but if you would like a quieter night my suggestion is to start off by inviting just one friend over and making sure you carefully select whoever it is.
Food and Drink
You can always experiment if you want to. You may be surprised just how late some children can stay awake and how much noise they can make if they are fed enough pizza, fizzy drinks and Smarties. If you get them to run around and jump up and down enough this combination can also lead to some spectacular projectile vomiting too. Personally I like a quieter life and prefer to feed any visiting children something a little less combustible.
What is the Right Age for Sleepovers
There is no right or wrong age to send your child on a sleepover or have their friends over to stay. Be aware that if you have a fairly advanced child who is confident and is not phased by new social situations their friends may be very different. Perhaps you have a child who has spent time away with grandparents and other relatives.
A friend invited over for a sleepover may be away from their parents for the very first time, somewhat unsure and more than a little homesick. To help your own children to prepare for sleepovers you can pack them off for a night with their favourite relatives.
Threes a Crowd
Threes a crowd! It's true what they say. From time to time a group of three will get on without any problem. More often one feels left out. This isn't ideal, especially for younger children when being left out can accentuate any feelings of being homesick. Therefore you are likely to find either one friend or three friends (if you are incredibly brave) makes the best group size.
Sleepovers Away From Home
If your child is invited to a sleepover it is good practice for longer stays away from home such as school trips or cub or brownie camp. The first time or two your child stays away it is a good idea to stay close to home just in case they are unable to settle and need to come home. This does not happen very often, but it is reassuring for a child to know that even when they are away from home you are not off somewhere hundreds of miles away. As they get used to being away from you this becomes less important.
Invariably items get left behind after a sleepover. It can help your child to organise themselves if you pop a list into their overnight bag. This makes it easier to round up all their belongings in the morning.
Hosting a Sleepover
When it is your turn to host a sleepover talk through what you expect with your child before you give them the go ahead to arrange it. It is your home. You are in charge and you get to set the guidelines. If the guidelines cannot be agreed or are easily broken during the sleepover then it should be a case of no more sleepovers for a while. Having said that be prepared to give a little leeway to excited children.
Sleeping arrangements are less important than you might think. If you do not have a spare bed or two handy then it's no problem. Part of the fun of sleepovers is sleeping in less luxurious conditions than normal. A sleeping bag on the floor can be enough, especially if there are some cushions handy to pop underneath. If you can afford an air bed this can be a good idea too as the modern versions are easy to pump up and can be rolled up into a bag for storage when not in use.
Rest and Recovery
Sometimes it is hard to know who need the rest and recovery more, children or parents.
It is usually best not to arrange anything too strenuous for the day after a sleepover. The late night and excitement can leave children tired and emotional. I think it is always a good idea for any children to return home quite early the following morning to give you and your child a better chance of a more relaxed day.
As children get older and move through their teens sleepovers do have a habit of getting noisier. Again there is nothing that says you must host them. Agreeing guidelines, limiting numbers and excluding known difficult children can help sleepovers pass off without too much of a problem.