It's a fact of life: Kids love sleepovers.
Sleepovers are quite different than slumber parties (which are to be avoided at all costs if you value peace, quiet, and a bit of sleep at night.)
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.
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.
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.
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 online games, prevent interaction instead of encouraging it. Suggest board games or outdoor play instead. Or try The Sleepover Party Game, for some novel party fun; for under $20.
Give first-time guests a lay-of-the-land home tour. You don't want a 3 a.m. visitor roaming the house in search of the bathroom.
Make sure guests know your house 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 of your sleepover guests.
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.
Keep an ear on the sleepover contingent, both so that you know what they're up to, and can step in to sort out any disagreements if needed.
Plan to stay within earshot of the kids at all times.
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.
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. Make it fun, and yummy!