A word that conjures hours of games, giggles and late-night movies to children, but mostly worrisome questions for parents. Is my child old enough? Is a sleepover safe? Will anyone sleep? If I host, what do I need to know first? Thankfully, Circle of Moms members who are old hands at sleepovers have shared plenty of tips for first-timers.
1. Age and Maturity
What's the right age to start sleepovers? “It depends on their maturity," says Barbara S. "My daughter has been sleeping over since she was 6 but my boys ages 5 and 6 are not ready to sleep over at their friend’s houses yet.” While many Circle of Moms members started letting their children attend sleepovers at around the ages of 6 to 8, several moms shared that their children started sleeping over at the houses of close family friends as young as age 4.
2. Meeting the Parents
It seems like a given, but it's worth saying: Make sure you know and trust the parents hosting the sleepover. As Tish T. shares: “At 10, we still don't sleepover somewhere unless I know everyone and have all the info on what is going to go on....a little protective, maybe. I would rather err on the side of caution.” Allie M. expresses a similar view: "You have to step back for a moment and look at where your child wants to sleep, do you trust this family, do they do things that you mirror yourself...would you worry about what is being talked about? How do the parents treat their children?"
If you're the parent hosting, be prepared to tell other parents the full plan for the evening. Circle of Moms members also advise getting parents' mobile numbers in case of emergencies and checking whether any of the guests are sleepover newbies. As Meredith T. advises: “Find out if the other ones have had sleepovers or not…my 10 year-old had a sleepover party and we had to deliver a 10 year-old child home because she wanted her own bed.”
3. Coed Compromise
While some parents believe coed sleepovers are fine for very young children, most argue that both boys and girls just shouldn't be sleeping over together. As Tracy H. shared: "Co-ed sleep overs are inappropriate...even at young ages." For a little girl's birthday, she suggests inviting "all friends for the party, then have the boys leave at night."
4. Keep the Guest List Small
When you're hosting your first sleepover, keep it small. “I would underestimate how many you can handle,” cautions Jen G. “Six little girls doesn't sound so bad in broad daylight, but when they are wide awake at midnight that's a LOT.”
Carol C. agrees: “All I can say is, think small! Three friends would be the max I would consider for sleeping over. One is easy, two is tough because they can easily exclude the third person. Three is probably good to feel like a party.”
5. Let Your Child Suggest Activities
Wondering how much you should be around to help lead games and crafts? Many Circle of Moms members suggest letting your child's wishes guide you. As Sharron S. explained: "Give them enough space to where they feel they are in control, with your daughter being the ‘leader’ so to speak. You should ask her if she wants you to be involved or if she wants to take charge herself.” Donna H. concurs: “Your daughter probably has some expectation of what she wants."
6. Movie Time = Bed Time
Wondering whether to make them turn off lights and go to sleep or let them stay up all night? Many moms recommend poppinng in a movie when you're ready to wind things down. Donna H. shares: I usually make movie time happen when I'm ready to go to bed. I find if you get them settled in to their sleeping bags in the dark with a movie, they will fall asleep.” Even if they're still awake once the movie ends, they'll likely be in much more quiet and mellow mood. As Julie B. shares: "I can still hear them whispering after the movie but whispering is fine."