Sleepovers are a fun and important part of growing up. Most children, at some point, want to show their independence by spending the night outside of the house and with friends. It may be a nerve-wracking experience for parents, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are our 10 tips to make it safe, fun, and comfortable:
- Let the child take the lead on when she is ready. There is no set age for a first sleepover. When she is interested, she will let you know.
- A good first step could be a “late over.” A late evening playdate can feel special without the pressure of spending the whole night.
- A good first sleepover could be to spend the night at a grandparent’s or other close family or family friend. Being in a space that he is familiar with will help the child feel more comfortable.
- It is not unusual for a child to not last the whole night her first time.
- Keep it small. A smaller group will help your child feel more comfortable and will help you if you are the host.
- Keep communication open. Ideally, you should know the other parents pretty well. If not, at least have a conversation with them about the sleepover. If you get uncomfortable, listen to your instincts. Check out the parents first. Get an idea of where they will be sleeping and what food will be available. What are the general plans for the evening? Let the other parents know any special needs or concerns you have, especially if your child has any medical needs or concerns. Exchange phone numbers. If your child has a phone, make sure he brings it with him. Don’t feel weird about checking in. Check in as much as you need.
- Help your child pack. Make sure she has all her essential needs and anything that will help her feel more comfortable, like a favorite blanket or plush.
If you are hosting:
- If you are hosting, make sure that you have open communication with the other parents. Don’t overthink things. Simple food and activities are fine.
- Encourage your child to be involved in any planning (but again, don’t plan every second). Also, encourage your kid to help clean up afterwards.
- Establish a lights-out time and have some night lights set up so that the visiting children can navigate to the bathroom and kitchen.
Sleepovers are a great part of growing up. With very little pressure and a little forethought, they can be a fun time for everyone.
By Bethanie Ryan