10 sleepover rules for success

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. 

Keys to success including planning ahead on entertainment and food, touching base with the sleepover kids' parents, and making plans for any left out sibling(s). Here are my 10 sleepover rules for success:

  1.  If Your Kid Shares a Bedroom, Don't Make the Sibling 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.

  2.  Plan an Alternate Activity for the Left-Out Sibling

If you can arrange a play date or overnight for him, too - great! If not, plan the evening's activity, such as a family movie, that will keep him with you - and out of the way of the sleepover kids.

  3.  The Most Important of the Sleepover Rules for Success: Plan Ahead

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.

  4.  Give First-Time Sleepover Guests a Lay-of-the-Land Tour

You don't want a 3 a.m. visitor roaming the house in search of the bathroom.

  5.  Make Sure Sleepover Guests Know the House Rules

This should include notice as to where in the (such as an adult's room) is off limits to visitors.

  6.  Make Contact the Child's Parents

You'll need to know where to reach them 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.

  7.  Keep an Ear on the Sleepover Contingent

Stay within earshot of the kids at all times.

  8.  Prepare Some Comforts for Sleepover Guests

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.)

  9.  Let the Kids Know When You're Going to Bed

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.

  10.  Prepare a Really Cool - or Really Hot - Treat

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.

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