After you’ve stopped having to go to softplay and before your child can legally buy you a pint you will be in the ‘Sleepover Years”. I feel like my life is now dominated by conversations about sleepovers. The number of times I am asked about them to the number I agree to is about 3000 to 1.
It’s my daughter’s birthday in eight months, and as she has the forward planning skills the Brexit team can only dream of, she’s already decided on a sleepover party. She has made a long list of who is coming, where they will sleep, what they will eat and where the hard border will be to prevent her younger brother from ruining it all. Whether she’ll be able to get her Sleepover Deal through the Parents’ Parliament is yet to be seen.
This won’t be my first rodeo. We have hosted mass sleepovers before and our sleepless nights are your gain because here are my sleepover party top tips.
Run through your rules with your own children before any of their friends arrive. These might be no pillow fights, no bouncing on beds, no electronics upstairs and being clear about which rooms are out of bounds. They might also include “no playing dares” resulting in one child running around the house naked at 1am and waking up everyone else. Just putting it out there.
It’s a sleepover, not a wake-over
The arrival time is usually pre-teatime so you’ve got a chance to wear them out a bit. Forcing them outside to play football, or go for a walk or, just to be on the safe side, get them to run a half marathon. It might leave you feeling defeated but the equation is simple. Worn out children equals tired children and means you’re putting the sleep into sleepover.
There may be trouble ahead
If you have more than one child you need to think carefully about sleepover parties and whether you can tolerate the sibling rivalry. The desperation of the younger child to be included is matched only by the determination of your older child to exclude them. These visiting children will be like magical unicorns pirouetting on a rainbow and any younger children will just want to be close to the action. Ideally sleepovers should be as self governing as possible and you’ll find yourself being way too hands on if you’ve got battles to referee. Plan a solution, ideally one that involves the youngest children being out of the house as much as possible. Keeping your fingers crossed and hoping for the best isn’t a viable option. Sleepovers are bit like Brexit in that respect.
Just to stretch this “Sleepovers are like Brexit” analogy even further I’m going to recommend stocking up on food. Buy what you think they’ll eat and then buy a bit more. Something about them being in a group will send them into a feeding frenzy.
Say yes to a midnight a feast
I’m all for midnight feasts but have them when it’s midnight in Moscow. Then it’s fair to put on your best teacher voice and insist the lights go out at 10pm. They won’t be asleep until at least 11pm but you can be confident you’re moving in the right direction.
It’s true that no one deserves a glass of wine and a pair of noise cancelling headphones more than the parent hosting a sleepover. But when you’ve got a homesick, crying child who is complaining they can’t sleep because your house smells weird then you’ll want to be able to drive them home.
Be prepared for the unexpected
We’ve mentioned children could be running around the house in the small hours. I’ve also heard a story of a visiting girl climbing into the parents’ bed and cuddling up because that’s what she does at home. Other stories include surprisingly loud snoring, fights, children getting lost on the way to the loo and peeing over the stairs, head lice infestations and sleepwalkers. Godspeed parents.
Set a strict pick up time
Regardless of what time the children finally dropped off to sleep you can be sure they will still wake up at ridiculous o’clock. I’d suggest 8am but that’s probably a bit much so let’s settle for calling time at 9am. I’m going to assume you made no plans for the day after the night before. If you have, cancel them because you are all tired and fit for nothing and it’ll end in tears (yours).
Practice makes perfect
This final bit of advice comes from my two friends who absolutely love hosting sleepovers.
My single mum friend arranges sleepovers with her babysitting circle. This way her son has company every weekend and she can watch the television in peace while earning her Sitster points.
Another friend prefers them to playdates and schlepping around all weekend “all the children are occupied and happy, what’s not to love” she says. The trick is to host more sleepovers, they say as the children get used to staying over and it becomes less of a novelty.
Who’s up for the challenge? Got a sleepover tip? Find us on Instagram @Sitsterapp because we’d love to hear it.
By Emilie Silverwood-Cope