The thought of having numerous excitable children round your house for a slumber party is enough to make some parents sweat. Between figuring out activities and food, the late-night giggling and a bleary-eyed morning after, sleepovers can be exhausting.
However, children love them! So if you want to make you children happy on their next birthday, why not throw them a slumber party? With a few handy hints and tricks, your whole family can emerge the next day with smiles on your faces.
- Setting Expectations
Start out with a frank conversation with your child about the event. Discuss the number of children you’ll invite, figure out the sleeping arrangements and set ground rules for mobiles and other technology. Start by inviting a small group of children, especially if you’re new to sleepovers. If parents express concern about their child making it through the whole night, then compromise. Allow the child to attend the party until 22:00, and then arrange for them to be picked up. This lets everyone join in on the fun, but helps you avoid a midnight meltdown.
Think about activities that will be fun for all the children invited. Pick a theme and use that as a springboard for everything from games to crafts to food. Whether you have a theme or not, shop ahead of time for food and activity supplies. Avoid running around at the last minute and you’ll feel less stressed.
Have a plan for the evening and keep it moving. You do not want the children running around your house with nothing to do. Schedule something every 15 to 20 minutes. For example, make personalised pillow cases, play a game and then learn a magic trick. If the weather permits, squeeze in a few minutes outside so the children can burn off energy with a scavenger hunt. Don’t forget the calming power of a favourite film (approved by all parents, of course!) to settle everyone down. Depending on your child’s age, check on the children at least once an hour — under the auspices of bringing more snacks.
Since a slumber party is longer than your average play date, plan to feed everyone dinner, breakfast and a snack. Check with parents in advance about any food allergies or preferences. Also, to avoid the crazy sugar rush (and crash) make sure you give the children healthy snacks such as chopped up vegetables and dips instead of processed foods. For instance, instead of crisps you could set out some seasonings and spices to let the children make their own flavoured popcorn.
- Get Comfy
Make it clear that blankies, cuddly toys or other favourite sleep aids are welcome. Make guests feel at home by letting them choose everything from activities to pizza. Do your best to make your guests feel like they’re at home, especially if this is their first slumber party.
- Easing Into It
Invite the parents to stick around for an appetiser before they head home for the evening. This will give the children a chance to settle in and feel comfortable in your home. Plug in a few extra nightlights throughout the house, particularly along the path that leads to the toilet, or stick some glow-in-the-dark stickers on the ceiling and walls.
- Take It All In Your Stride
It may come to pass that you’re woken up in the middle of the night by a child who’s decided they want to go home. Make sure that you have discussed this possibility with their parents in advance. They should make sure they have their phone on loud, so they are contactable — even if it’s at three in the morning. Arrange whether they will pick their child up, whether you’ll drop them off, or whether you’ll meet somewhere in the middle.
After you’ve survived the night, don’t forget about breakfast! Make sure there is enough cereal, toast, bacon and eggs to go around. You could even arrange a breakfast treat for them and make pancakes!