It's a fact of life: Kids love sleepovers. Sleepovers, at least with nice kids (and you don't let the not-nice ones come), can be quite pleasant, actually. So long as you follow the rules.
Here are my top 10 Sleepover Rules for Success to ensure a good time is had by all involved.
Give your child some good-host guidelines before the guests arrive: If TV's okay, how long they can watch, and an appropriate lights-out time.
(You'll notice I didn't say bedtime. We have lots of sleepovers at my house.)
Remind her that solitary pursuits, such as computer games, prevent interaction instead of encouraging it.
Suggest board games or outdoor play instead.
Give first-time guests a lay-of-the-land tour. You don't want a 3 a.m. visitor roaming the house in search of the bathroom.
Make sure guests know your household rules, and follow them. This should include notice as to where in the home (such as an adult's bedroom) is off-limits to visitors.
Make contact with the parents. You'll need to know where to reach them (cell phones, restaurant number) that evening, overnight, and in the morning.
Ask whether the child has any food or pet allergies you should be aware of. If you're planning a movie night, find out what rating of film the child is permitted to view. Set a pickup time now.
Clear any plans you have to go out and leave the kids with a babysitter with the guests' parents before they drop her off. Keep the parents' phone numbers handy.
Plan to stay within earshot of the sleepover kids at all times. That way you'll know what they're up to, and can step in to sort out any disagreements if needed.
Prepare some comforts for each sleepover guest. Keep out a clean glass. Provide guest towels on a guest-towel rack. If there's no room for another rack, put a hook on the back of the bathroom door just for guest towels.
Keep one drawer empty for guest toiletries. If space is a problem, a caddy or basket will work nicely. Make a manicure/pedicure station for teens. (It might keep them off the phone for a while.)
If your kid shares a room, don't make (or even allow) the sibling to share the sleepover. Put the sleepover kids in sleeping bags in the family room.
The sleepover contingent won't want to include the sibling. And there's no reason to force the issue (sibling). It's not his or her sleepover.
Plan an alternate activity for the left-out sibling. If you can arrange a play date or sleepover for him, too - great! If not, plan an evening's activity, such as a family movie, that will keep him with you - and out of the way of the sleepover kids.
Let the kids know when you're going to bed and that you expect them to dial down the activity volume accordingly. This is the time to reconfirm your previously chosen bedtime.
Perhaps the most important of the sleepover rules for success: Prepare a really cool - or hot - treat for the sleepover contingent. Bake gooey chocolate-chunk cookies, order an extra-cheesy pizza.
Do whatever it takes to make your home the place kids want to go for serious fun.
This is probably the most important of the sleepover rules for success. Making the night fun, and yummy for all!
Do you have a sleepover rules success story? Share it!