Sleepover Survival Solutions

“Mom, can Clara spend the night?”

“Mom, Max wants to stay over for the weekend, puh-leeeease?”

“Mommy, for my next birthday I want a sleepover with ALL of my friends!”

Your kids are begging for sleepovers week after week (or sometimes day after day), but are you overwhelmed just at the thought?

Some of my absolute best childhood memories are from sleepovers – movie night parties, cousins staying over, one-on-one bonding time with my BFF. We’d decorate cupcakes, play board games and stay up way too late chatting.

But sleepovers aren’t perfect.

I recall more than one midnight call to Mom because I was sick or scared, and needed to be picked up. Or there’s that time one of my friends wet the bed … and me … and my brand new Beauty and the Beast bedspread. Or when my cousin got his entire head stuck in the slots of our bunk bed, and my mom had to slather him in margarine to get him out! Sleepovers can be riddled with chaos, especially for the parents in charge, but I think they’re still one of the best ways to boost the bonds your kids have with their friends.

It’s just a matter of time before your kid starts asking about having sleepovers at your house. The best thing you can do is be prepared. If you say yes, amid squeals of delight from the kids, you’ll likely be frantically wondering what you’ve gotten yourself into. If you say no, you’ll need to have a back-up plan to dull the disappointment. Lucky for you, I’ve got a few helpful tips for both scenarios.

Insight on Invites

Your sleepover could be a two-kid hangout or a 12-kid birthday extravaganza. Either way, you need to know a bit about each kid and their personality. Nothing ruins a good time like one girl being left out of the group, or a pair of friends who love each other for the first hour of hanging out but are teary-eyed and battling by hour four. Choose your sleepover squad wisely!

Laying Down the Law

You have the best chance of getting everyone’s attention before the real fun begins. As kids arrive, immediately set your ground rules, letting them know what flies and what fails under your roof. You may also want to remind new visitors that they can ask you for anything they need. You want them to feel safe and know the rules, so they’ll be comfortable and able to enjoy themselves. And the more fun they have, the better chance you’ll have of getting a little me time in while your kids are occupied with friends!

Chill and Let Chill

Even if you have a few activities in mind, make sure to chill out and leave the sleepover squad plenty of time to have fun on their own. Expect to referee a few squabbles and have your planned craft take 30 minutes too long, and go ahead and throw your bedtime routine out the window. Be realistic with your expectations. If you start the night expecting kids to be, well, kids, you won’t be too frustrated when things don’t go exactly as you’d hoped.

It’s Tradition!

Share a little of what makes your awesome family unique by planning an activity or two that you normally like to do with your kids. My fave kid’s sleepover activities include baking cookies from scratch, canvas painting and, of course, fort-building.

Sorry Kiddo, Not Today

All of the sleepover survival tips in the world won’t help if you are outright too tired, too up against a work deadline, too overscheduled to take on extra kids for 24 hours. Not to mention that once your kid finds out how awesome sleepovers are, they’re likely going to want to host one on a weekly basis. It’s helpful to have some quick ways to say no that will hold up well against your 9-year-old … and her three BFFs.

Short-Term Solution

“How about we take Aidan out for ice cream instead?” When your kiddo is asking for a sleepover, they may be craving just a bit more time with their best buddies. Offer up an alternative like treating the friend to a trip to your favorite spot for sweets. You’ll only spend an hour or two entertaining, instead of an entire weekend.

Calendar Compromise

You know your kids love having friends stay over, so like any other extracurricular, it makes sense to set aside time for it. Have a designated sleepover weekend every month. Set your family’s sleepover day or choose a weekend at the beginning of each month. Or, you can pick the same day of the month, like the third Saturday, for the entire calendar year. Your little socialites will feel good about having fab sleepovers on the calendar guaranteed, and you’ll feel awesome about not having to say no over and over like a broken record!

No Is the Final Answer

Maybe you can’t offer up another outing or date just yet, and you have to flat out say no. Help your kiddo get the extra friend bonding time she craves by asking her if she’d like to go sleep over at the friend’s house instead. If that doesn’t work, nicely explain that you’ll try to have a friend spend the night in the near future.

Sleepovers can be really fun … or really miserable (for the kids AND you). With these tips, you’re all set to host a sleepover without completely losing your mind!

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