Having or attending a sleepover is one of those cherished childhood rites of passage. Staying up late with your friends, watching movies, giggling under blankets, and binging on junk food and candy. Kids love sleepovers, right? But parents are a different story. Sure, we want our kiddos to be able to enjoy these parts of their childhoods. But we have questions! We have concerns! A sleepover is so much more than a play date. It's entrusting the care of your child to someone else for an overnight stay. In order to make sure you're sending your child to or hosting a safe sleepover, consider these tips. Also, before you even take this next step, we can help you figure out if your child is ready for a sleepover.
If you don't already know the parents hosting the sleepover, or your child is inviting kids whose parents you don't know well, have a meet-and-greet before the big night.
A daytime play date is a great way to get to know the parents and children your own child will be spending the night with, and give you a chance to get to know them a bit better. Not only that, but it will give you a chance to monitor how your child and their friend interact with one another. You want to make sure there aren't any issues in their friendship that could pop up during the sleepover. And you want to make sure your child's behavior doesn't change around this friend, which could spell trouble when they're out of your supervision.
Make sure there are established ground rules.
Sure, bedtimes during a sleepover are flexible. That's one of the best parts of spending the night with a friend! But if you have some hard and fast rules you want respected while your child is away or during the sleepover you're hosting, discuss them with the parents beforehand. For example, if there are certain TV shows or movies that are off-limits, or foods you don't want your child to eat, communicate that to the adults.
Be prepared to ask some tough questions.
Who will be chaperoning and supervising the sleepover? How many kids will be in attendance, and will there be other kids (siblings, for example) at home during the sleepover? Does the host family have any guns in the home, and if so, where and how are they stored? These are important questions, and you need to ask them before allowing your child to spend the night at someone else's home. Likewise, be prepared to answer these questions if you're the host.
But before the invitations go out or you RSVP for your child's first sleepover, make sure they're ready.
How do you know when your kid is sleepover ready? That's a tough call! It's tough because it will vary wildly from one child to the next. There really is no set age limit on sleepovers. Instead, you should be considering your child's emotional and behavioral development, and how well they do away from you. If your kid has a hard time listening to other adults, or bedtime and nighttime is something they still struggle with, it may be a good idea to put sleepovers on the back burner for now.