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Top Tips for Surviving Slumber Parties

Top Tips for Surviving Slumber Parties

Let’s face it, bedtime can be a challenge. Routine can help, but it’s not a fix-all. It never fails that your child, or children, will complain about having to stop whatever activity they’re involved in. Sometimes they’re overly tired and cranky. They may inexplicably develop a sudden aversion to the same toothpaste and toothbrush they’ve been using without complaint. Or, maybe they’re just being a kid. They do that. Who knows why?

Kids slumber party. Boys jumping on the bed.

And then they want to add to that…

My kids are obsessed with the idea of slumber parties. They want to get all their little friends together for extended playtime, pajama parties, late-night movies and popcorn, or whatever else they have in mind. The boys generally want video game tournaments. Whatever reason they have for it, they want to add more kids for you to deal with at bedtime. On the other end of the spectrum, I want to avoid it like the plague. I like my quiet. I like routine. Sleeping accommodations for extra kids can be a pain. Hello, my kids have beds already here. What am I supposed to do with these other kids? And then I have to feed them in the morning?

Be realistic…

How many kids can you actually accommodate? How many can you deal with at once? What are they planning to do to occupy themselves before bedtime? You know they’re not actually going to just fall asleep, right? Make these guidelines clear to your kids ahead of time. Meet with and communicate with the other kids’ parents beforehand. You want to make sure you can reach them if something goes wrong. Get emergency phone numbers in case you can’t reach them. “Something going wrong” can be as simple as your child’s friend getting homesick, so don’t freak out with the worst case scenarios. If it is more serious than that, this is precisely why you established those lines of communications ahead of time with the other kids’ parents.

Plan activities ahead of time…

Let’s be clear: you want to make sure you have a plan for keeping these kids from being bored. Heaven help you if you have a group of bored children that you’re going to be stuck with overnight. You will lose your mind. If you’re having a movie night, make sure you know the other parents’ rules on what they’re comfortable with their child watching, then rent the movies beforehand. Trust me, you don’t want to be dragging them all to a Redbox while they debate over what to see and grumble that it’s not available in that machine. Have plenty of snacks. Check with parents on allergies and dietary restrictions beforehand. If your boys want plan to veg out with video games, make sure they’re multi-player, that you have ample controllers and, of course, that they are parent-approved.

Figure out the sleeping accommodations…

There are actually several options for this. I have a spare futon and a hide-a-bed in one of my couches, so that helps. If you don’t, you can plan on a nest of blankets or sleeping bags. If you have them, you can set up tents in the yard. If you do go this route, make sure, of course, that you can trust the kids to be outside overnight and that you trust your neighborhood. This of course means you will need to leave your doors unlocked for bathroom runs, scared children, or even bug bites that need soothed.

Have a clear plan for the morning after…

Breakfast doesn’t have to be that complicated, but you do have to feed them. You can make a stack of pancakes, eggs, bacon, and sausage if you want. Or, you can just feed them all cereal. There’s no shame in feeding them cereal. It’s likely been a long night for you and if you don’t feel like getting up and spending the time and dishes on a home-cooked breakfast, no one in their right mind would blame you.

After breakfast, make sure you’ve clearly established when parents will be picking up kids, or when you’ll be dropping them back off with their parents. Chances are you’ve had enough of the fun and you don’t want to keep them all day. Plan for time for the kids to help tidy up after themselves. You’ve put enough effort into this. You don’t want to spend the rest of the day cleaning up after the festivities. This also helps ensure they’ve packed all their belongings up so nothing gets left behind. Something probably will get left behind, anyway, but there’s no reason not to at least try to minimize it.

Most importantly, allow yourself some down time afterwards. Leave your day free, if possible. Wind down, enjoy some peace and quiet. Allow yourself some much needed relaxation time. It sounds like a good night for the kids to visit grandma.