There comes a time, especially for girls, when sleepover parties become popular. Whilst children excitedly plan for a night of fun, you may be left wondering if you’ve bitten off more than you can chew and if you’ll get any sleep at all! Here are some ideas from other mums and dads, of how to prepare for a sleepover, how to set ground rules and when to say enough is enough.

Top tips

  • When sending out invites try to get all parents’ or carers’ contact details and ask if any of the children take medication or have allergies etc that you must bear in mind.
  • Don’t forget to ask parents to pack sleeping bags or pillows if you don’t have enough.
  • It’s worth putting times on the invite or you may find some children won’t get picked up until late the next day as their parents take advantage of their free time.

Set some ground rules with your child before you agree to a sleepover

  • If your child’s room isn’t big enough you could let them sleep in the lounge but they must help you get the lounge ready and tidy up the next day.
  • No TV after the watershed (9pm on terrestrial channels 1-5 and 8pm on cable and Sky channels). This is when more adult programmes are shown on TV, that may contain scenes of sex or violence. You could compromise by allowing them to pick a DVD instead. You don’t want parents complaining that their children saw adult programmes late at night!
  • Your child has to take responsibility for their guests. They should keep an eye out for anyone who might feel left out or any fallings out. Let your child know that if they are worried about anything they can come and talk to you.
  • Try and set a general cut-off point time for your child of when you hope they will go to sleep or at least settle down. Remind them that younger brothers or sisters need their sleep.
  • Get your child involved in preparing for the sleepover including organising food and soft drinks. Try to balance out the sugary drinks by making fruit smoothies instead. Kids generally entertain each other, but have a ‘plan B’ if you think they need a distraction. Get your child involved so they know what things there are to do, whether it is a girls’ hair and make-up session or board games and a DVD.
  • Be prepared for an upset child who wants to go home in the middle of the night. Most parents prefer to try and calm the child rather than take them home or wake their parents. Talk to your child about how you would both handle this if one of their friends did get homesick or feel upset so they take on the responsibility too.
  • Think through where you will be in the house and how much you will intervene. One mum told us she invited a girlfriend over for a glass of wine and a chat while her daughter and friends took over the living room. A dad told us how he took the kids to see their grandmother leaving his wife to supervise the girls’ sleepover, so at least they would only have one of their three children tired and grumpy the next day!

“I knew I was in for a noisy night, but just thought of it as a treat for my daughter’s birthday which I was going to grin and bear. When it got to about one in the morning I became slightly more stern to help them settle down and put on a quiet DVD so they could drift off to sleep.”

Most parents of boys said their sons rarely had sleepovers other than one or two friends who would stay over to play on the computer and watch films. One mum got round this by setting up the tent in the garden, which was secure. She said her son and his friends loved it – although she made sure she set rules beforehand such as no fires and no wandering off in the neighbourhood at night. She also made a ‘Plan B’ in case it rained too heavily or got too cold.

Some parents were nervous about allowing their child to sleep over at a family home they didn’t know. One mum decided to get round the problem by saying her child could go, but as they were going out early the next day they would pick up their child that night rather than in the morning. Once she got a feel for the family and how comfortable her child was she felt much more relaxed the next time her child was invited for a sleepover.

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