First Slumber Party! Has your child been invited to a sleepover for the first time? Talk about an exciting adventure for your kid and an anxious, ulcer-inducing event for you!. One one hand, we want to protect our children. On the other hand, we want our kids to experience all the fun stuff kids should get to do. Like, spend the night at a friend’s house. It’s the stuff memories are made of.
I remember my first sleepover. Don’t you?
So how do we balance our hardwired need to keep our kids safe with their hardwired need to explore and experience new things?? Here are some tips to help make sure you get through this without the ulcer!
Meet the host parent(s)
Ideally, you will already know the children and their parents long before the slumber party. But sometimes, you may not. Before you even consider releasing your child into someone else’s supervision, get to know them. Don’t let your child guilt trip you into giving permission before you are comfortable. We want our kids to have fun, but we need them to be safe. Remember, you are the adult. Kids won’t/can’t think of the very real dangers in the world.
This is one time when you really need to listen to your intuition. Moms, we, in particular, have a gift for intuition. I think it might be something written into our DNA but if something doesn’t feel right to you, don’t let your child go.
What do they need to know about your child?
If your child has food allergies or health issues, make sure the host mom knows and is prepared to handle it. If it is a food allergy, (or just an insanely picky eater!) it would probably be a nice gesture to send over food you know your son/daughter can and will eat.
Make sure host parents have your number and that you have your cell phone on you so if something does come up she can reach you. (Not that you are going to be able to do much of anything but stare at the phone and hope your son or daughter is having a good time. But still, it’s worth mentioning.)
Who else will be there?
Unless your child is very outgoing it may not be a good idea for them to go to a slumber party if there are going to be several children. The more kids that are there, the greater the likelihood of things going awry. Has your child had issues with any of the other kids who will be there? If there is the potential for drama there, at the very least, make the host parent aware.
Also, will there be anyone, such as older siblings there? Again, listen to your intuition. If you don’t get a good vibe about anyone who is going to be around your child, don’t let them go.
Odds are, your child won’t be sleeping in a bed. Make sure they have sleepwear that is comfy and appropriate. (No t-shirts and undies!) Also, remember to get your son/daughter a sleeping bag. (I had to rush out and buy one for my daughter at the last second. I just didn’t hit me that she would need one!)
Don’t be afraid to check in.
I’m not saying call or text every thirty minutes, but a quick text (if your child has a cell phone) or calling the host parent is fine. You can even admit to your kids that YOU are homesick for them. (Everyone likes to know they are missed. And, it is unbelievable how quiet your house is without your child there at night.)
Trust me, if it’s your kid’s first sleepover, they will want to hear your voice. Sleeping away from home without your family for the first time is an exciting milestone. But it’s potentially terrifying, too.
Be on time dropping your child off and picking them up. You aren’t the only mom with stuff to do! By the time the party’s over and the kids are leaving, the host mom is bound to be frazzled, exhausted and ready for these kids to be out of her house!
If you’re going to be unreasonably late (more than 15 minutes) – call! But try not to be late. It’s rude and might keep your child from being invited back.
Be prepared for a late night pickup
My daughter’s first slumber party at a friend’s house? We planned it for 2 weeks. She talked about the sleepover nonstop for days. She put careful thought into every single item she packed into her overnight bag. Her dad and I dropped her off, visited with the other parents for a bit then came home. My daughter was having so much fun, she barely had time to come out and hug me before we left.
About 10:45 pm the phone rang. She had been fine right up until she realized that she was really going to have to sleep in a strange place. The allure of going to a sleepover lost it’s luster very quickly when she was faced with sleeping in an unfamiliar place filled with unfamiliar sounds. Fortunately, no one made a big deal out of it. My daughter was a little embarrassed but not scarred for life. I reminded her that there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to sleep in your own bed.
Sleepovers are a right of passage for the vast majority of kids. 99.999% of the time these are fun times that turn into fond memories for your kids. But to avoid that 0.001 chance that things go badly you can:
- Know the parents hosting the sleepover
- Know who else will be there to avoid unneeded drama
- Check in if you think your child would benefit from hearing from you. (Or if it would make you feel better to hear from them!).
- Make sure you do your part by being on time for drop off and pick up.
- Be prepared to pick up your child if they change their mind in the middle of the night.