Last night we hosted our first big sleepover. Rachel had two of her BFFs over after school yesterday until 2 O'Clock this afternoon; that's 22 hours of 6 and 7 year old girls.
I knew it would be a whole heap of fun but I also knew it was unlikely to be plain sailing all the way. And I was right, but it was a lot more fun than pain due to wonderful girls, great friendships and some thorough planning beforehand. Although I will be having an early night tonight about an 11pm bed and 530am waking.
It'd be rude to keep all my plans to myself so here are my top ten tips for sleepovers.
1. Pick the friends carefully
This rule is as true for all play dates with more than one friend. I have hosted a couple of disasters which all came down to clashes in personality or jealousy between girls. I have learned how important it is to only have groups of girls if they get along really well and never leave anyone out.
2. Don't expect much sleep
It doesn't matter how much sleep you think you might get, reduce your expectations. It is much easier to enjoy the sleepover if you know you'll all be tired in the morning
3. Get lots of food in the house
Tiredness leads to hunger, for all of you; make sure you have lots of healthy snacks and meals in the house because you're bound to need them. I fed the girls a snack, dinner, fruit, snacks, breakfast, 2nd breakfast, snack, lunch and more fruit.
4. Provide lots of spare pillows
I always give loads of pillows and cushions and the girls always make use of them. It helps them get comfy in their sleeping bags and they often make beds from them. A friend shared this tip with me and it's weird but it seems to be useful.
5. Keep the heating on
Warm kids sleep sounder than cold ones. We have our heating off at night but we always keep it on for sleepovers to help them get sleepy and stay asleep.
6. Limit the sugary snacks
I ignore this tip every time at my own peril; it's so obvious but true that kids full of sugar can't sleep. And kids full of sugar will have a low sugar mood after, it's always good to avoid those.
7. Have 3 or 4 films for them to choose from
Rather than letting the kids select any film they like, perhaps choosing one that might hype them up or scare them, I get a small selection out that they can choose from. I always involve Rachel in this selection and make sure she understands that's all the choice there is.
8. Have an activity planned for every spare hour
I had 10 activities planned for this sleepover and we used 5; that's a sign of great friends. I had baking, crafts, games, DVDs and music. In the end the weather cooperated and they went outside a fair bit and they just entertained themselves a fair amount. But whenever things got fractious I pulled out one of my activities and all was right with the world again.
9. Expect cheekiness
Especially from your own child. I am always amazed how Rachel becomes Queen Bee when she has friends over. She likes to push her boundaries and so her cheek increases. I was shocked when this first happened but now just smile and let most of it pass, accepting it as part of the role of host.
10. Have Fun
Join in the fun, remember what it was to be a child, let the small stuff slide and only clamp down on things that really matter. Expect to learn things about yourself and your child that you never knew before and remember that it is these events that make memories of the years ahead.