Sleepovers or slumber parties can be a great bonding experience for kids. They often serve to strengthen childhood friendships into a lifelong association, as spending the night with each other builds trust, comfort and a sense of security between friends. As Preeta, mother of two girls, puts it, “What do you do when she goes away for college and lives in a hostel with other kids? If she's never ever stayed away from home, it may be hard for her to adjust to such intimacy with friends.”
However, we hope we can, at least, bulletproof you before the shelling begins. Here’s how to gloriously emerge as a survivor from slumber parties.
Timing is everything
The more energetic the kids are, the bigger the chances of an all-nighter attempt. So, most veterans advise late Friday evening as the best time for sleepovers. The working day wears them out enough to induce them to sleep earlier. Post-dinner parties also won’t result in a heavy culinary exercise for you.
What's more, if you are lucky, you may even be able to successfully negotiate a bedtime.
Don’t expect the kids to sail through the night doing whatever kids do. You’re expected, or rather supposed to organise some activity for them; unless you don’t mind being a wrestling referee. Fun activities such as karaoke, dance, movies, party games, pillow fights, arts and crafts, or make-up sessions – anything that keeps them busy and giggling, works.
Stock up the larder
Not laying out a gourmet dinner doesn’t mean not having to worry about food. All those pillow fights and dancing take energy. So, stock up on light finger food like chips, nuts, popcorn, pretzels, cut fruits, sandwiches, crackers. etc. Of course this requires an FBI-like probe into the food preferences, allowances and allergies, of each child present.
Prepare to serve breakfast too. Do yourself a favour with ready to use cereal, sandwiches, buns, bagels, muffins and other light and minimal preparation food for breakfast.
Put down your foot
Unabashedly put out a fully-fledged proclamation of the house rules just where everyone can see them. Explain these clearly to your children as well as the invitees – no eating on the bed, lights out time, no running around the halls or any other house rules.
Remember, if you’re the boss before they go amok, you’ll remain the boss by the end of it all.
Never organise a sleepover without the unanimous support of all parents involved. You should have a well-planned agreement with them as to how long their child is going to stay with you and both of you must honour the code. Ideally, by late morning, all other offsprings must be safe in their own nests.
It’s okay if you want to have another parent over to help you – they’ll understand your ordeal and give you some much-needed sympathy.
If anything can go wrong, it will
There will always be at least one loner in the group. Likewise, there could also be a mini-sized bandit recruiting outlaws from the group. As a responsible adult, on sleepover duty, you have to be on constant nocturnal alert, dealing with tears, fights, ‘owwies’ and even bedwetting that many kids experience.
Even if the weather is all sunny, prepare for the storm anyway
It’s the experiences with kids, good, bad and ugly, that make a parent. Through all the ruckus, sleepovers are an essential ‘rite of passage’, as expressed by Uday Vohra, father of two pre-teen boys. Yet, to do or not to do it, is a function of your preparedness for it all. If you don’t feel cut out for a sleepover just yet, wait till you are. In the meantime, you can let your kid sleep over at another hapless parent’s place.