"Mom, can I have a slumber party?" These words can strike fear in any parent's heart.
These overnight parties often devolve into all night free-for-alls in which the sweetest kid by day turns into an insolent monster by night. Slumber parties, at least with nice kids (and you don't let the not-nice ones come) can be quite pleasant, actually.
Here are my 10 slumber party survival tips with rules to help ensure the night is a success for all.
Put the slumber party kids in sleeping bags in the family room. The sleepover contingent won't want to be confined in a bedroom.
If you can arrange a play date or sleepover for siblings during the slumber party, 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 slumber party kids.
Give your child some good-host guidelines before the guests arrive: if TVs 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 gaming, e-mailing, or talking on a cell phone, prevent interaction instead of encouraging it.
Suggest board games and outdoor play instead.
Start the party at dinner time and end it at breakfast the next morning. Try to go longer successfully at your own parental peril.
Be sure to check in with each slumber party guest's parents. Let them know what to pack (things like a sleeping bag, a favorite pillow, PJs and a toothbrush); what time to drop the child off; and what time to pick her up the next morning.
Give the parent an idea of the scheduled activities so they'll know what clothing is appropriate.
If you plan to watch PG or PG-13 rated movies, this is the time to clear same with the parent. (And never show any PG-13 movie that you haven't previewed. They can be very, very naughty.)
Make sure you have the parent's cell phone number in case you need to reach them during the night.
No, you don't have to have every minute of your child's slumber party scheduled. But you should have a general plan - such as a dress-up theme - so the kids don't turn to their own devices.
Stock kid-friendly party foods in advance. Leave nothing to chance here as kids get hungry, especially near midnight. Unless a midnight trip to the grocery store is your idea of relaxing, plan for this and any other cravings your kids might get a hankering for. This is one rule you definitely don't want to skip.
Set a time for lights out in advance.
Plan more sedate activities for the hour or two before bedtime, such as a movie, to get the kids to dial down to a level where sleep is a realistic possibility.
Make it clear to all your soon-to-be-slumbering guests that kids who don't at least lie quietly after lights out can expect a midnight call to their parents. And do it.
Don't allow the kids to text or e-mail from their cell phones during
the party - unless of course there are extenuating circumstances. You'll
Someone is invariably left out with these two- or four-person played video games. Discuss this ban with your child prior to his or her guests arriving; then put the controls out of sight so they stay out of mind. This is not a group party activity.