How to prepare your children for sleepovers with friends

I asked this question to my 10 year old. She said: get a pizza, soda pop, ice cream, and a couple of fun movies. According to her that should be all as far as my article goes. It’s funny to see her so confident, because only five years ago I had to pick her up from a sleepover at 11:30 at night. Desperate parents of her girlfriend called me and said she wouldn’t stop crying for mommy.

Most children want to experience a sleepover party, especially when they hear from their peers how much fun it is. I think it’s a great idea, but first you need to prepare your kid, so you don’t get any late night calls.

The most important thing is to meet your child’s friend(s) and their parents long before the sleepover actually happens. Maybe you already know them from school, or preschool activities. If not, set up a few play dates to see how the kids interact together. Some children are very controlling and, lets face if, selfish, and can’t control their temper. You won’t know if you are sending your kid to a bully’s house unless you meet them first. It is good to meet in a public setting, like an indoor or outdoor playground. That way you have an opportunity to chat with the parent and see what they are like. Many times children cry at sleepovers, because they don’t like, or they are afraid of their friend’s parent(s). If, in your gut, you feel something isn’t right about the kid’s parent(s), it most likely isn’t. You cannot ignore your concerns! Next would be a play date in their house. Don’t just drop your kid off, walk in with your child (if the parents let you) and look around. What if it smells like cigarettes and your child has asthma? You don’t want to and up in an emergency room. Now, if the parents object you coming in, maybe it’s a sign it’s not a place for your kid to be.

Host a sleepover in your own house. I know that most parents would rather not do that, because it really is an inconvenience, but you are doing your children a favor by letting them experience it at their highest comfort level. They know you are close and they can focus on playing. Besides, you are in control of what the kids do, what they eat (that’s especially important for kids with food allergies), what kind of movies they watch, etc. And, if one of them cries and wants to go home, don’t blame yourself or your kid. It may be that they are just not ready for it.

Help them pack. Here is what they should take with them: a sleeping bag and a pillow, maybe a favorite toy, or a board game, pajamas, a change of clothes, their toothbrush and toothpaste, a couple of snack bars in case they don’t like the food that is served there. If your children need medication, best to give it at home just before they leave (if possible). You should know that the other parents are not obligated and even shouldn’t give your kids any medications. Nighttime bed wetting is another problem. In that case I wouldn’t even consider a sleepover anywhere except my own house. It’s not just about wetting someones bed or your own sleeping bag, but about being ridiculed and picked on by friends.

Finally, on a day of the party, you need to tell your kids to have fun. They might be anxious even, if it doesn’t show. Maybe it is you, who is anxious, then you should trust your children’s confidence that everything will be fine. Let them know you will come back for them the next morning. They can bring their cell phone, if they are old enough to use it. Otherwise, give your phone and cell phone number to their friend’s parents. And, if you do get a call, it’s OK. You might have to wait another year. Until then, have some sleepovers at your place.

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