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Welcome to a new era of sleepovers and all the fun and discovery that comes with them. Planning your first sleepover is an exciting mummy milestone. As with all our children’s first experiences, we want them to be positive and memorable. Let’s admit that with these moments come a level of self imposed pressure, but this is not one of those times to fuss and over think.
Mums, and mums before them, have survived the task of hosting miniature overnight guests. This article is all you’ll need to earn your sleepover scout badge, have the kids in bed by 8:30 and avoid any challenges that your wolf cubs could create.
If all goes according to plan, you’ll be able to retreat to your haven and take advantage of some well deserved quiet time.
Is Your Guest Sleepover Ready?
A child’s first night away from home can be a big deal, everything is different. The clock on the wall makes a funny noise and the night light makes scary shadows. To avoid a midnight drive to return a teary toddler to his mum and dad, find out more about them.
Check with parents to gauge if the child is confident enough to be away from home overnight. What do they like to eat, are they out of nappies at night (don’t assume because a lot of children sleep in nappies until a lot later these days)? Do they have a favourite toy they sleep with? If they have a moment of missing home, what’s the best distraction to use to coax them back into a smile?
Should the wheels fall off and going home is the only option, parents should be available to pick up or receive thier child at any hour.
Start with Small Numbers
The expression “less is more” could not be more relevant here. Your first sleepover should ideally be your child and one friend who they know and have a good play relationship with.
With each little human you add to the mix, the more elements there are to consider, like who gets on better with who, who’s left out, who eats what, sleeps where… and who just spilt warm milk in the hamster cage.
As you turn from a beginner to pro sleepover veteran, you’ll know what number of guests you and your child can manage. As your game improves, stick to even numbers, it’s a good way to keep anyone from being mismatched or feeling left out.
Plan the Sleepover for Later In the Day
To ensure the idea of a sleepover remains novel, get the party started later in the afternoon. If kids have spent the whole day playing together, little issue can creep in as they get tired. Being rested or having had a nap earlier in the day, keeps the mood light and they remain enthusiastic.
Ask that your visitor arrives bathed and dressed in thier PJ’s. This cuts down the amount of admin on your side and eliminates you having to track down missing socks and shoes.
Set a specific time for the child to be picked up the next morning. It’s important to end the slumber party on a win, so make sure the kids’ interest in each other doesn’t run out.
Set Basic Ground Rules
No fighting, no leaving the house unsupervised, no jumping off the bunk beds and no playing with fire! Basic rules will guide the proceeding and avoid you having to watch them like a hawk.
So the children aren’t cooped up indoors the whole time, a family friendly patio space makes for a great change of scenery. You get to relax, while they play in a clean and safe environment.
The rules are based on your environment and age of the children, the idea is to keep mischief at bay and avoid any obvious harm coming to the kids, like pets that are not sociable or pools that are not fenced off.
Schedule the Nights Events
Time keeping doesn’t come easy for little kids, they need a countdown so they can gradually warm up to the fact that they will eventually be going to bed. Planning activities helps to break up the time and avoids boredom from creeping in.
Have a visual aid for them to track the progress of the night, like a chalk board with a countdown or balloons that get popped on the hour, as bedtime draws near. The events don’t need to be elaborate, the excitement of a slumber party is often all that’s needed to keep them fully entertained.
Stuck for ideas? A winning activity is fort building. Have pillows and blankets available as building material and let them get busy. Throw in some flashlights and a treasure hunt, and they’ll be occupied for hours. At dinnertime, they can enjoy a picnic in thier fort.
A clay or crafts table is great if little ones need some quiet play. Word of warning, glitter is not your friend! Avoid introducing it into the mix unless you plan to supervise.
Playing balloon-stomp isn’t just a ball of giggles, it’s a good way to tire out busy little boys and of course, dress up time is a highlight for the girls, especially if you throw in some of your costume jewellery. Pinterest is a great source on inspiration if you need additional ideas.
What’s for Dinner?
Snacks are one of the essential ingredients that turn slumber parties into extra special occasions. As play is the focus of the event, it would be counterproductive, a waste of energy and frankly no fun to get the kids to eat a normal dinner.
With minimal preparation and a dash of creativity on your side, you can ensure the kids get in a healthy meal and are amused at the same time.
Mini meals are playful and different, like baby burgers or hot dogs. Dress up plain food like Mac & Cheese with a tomato sauce smiley face and you’re done. Cut fruit, prepared into shapes, can be as appetizing as sweet treats. Lean toward the healthier options to avoid too much sugar. Popcorn is also a hit and a healthy alternative over crisps.
Movie Time & Bed Time
A movie is the perfect gateway to bedtime. It’s also a good distraction for little people who are getting cranky as bedtime approaches. Set up the television in the area they’ll be sleeping in, that way that can just doze off right where they are, and don’t need to be carried to bed.
If your countdown game has been strong, falling asleep does not need to involve tears or tantrums. Allow a little leeway when it comes to bedtime, we’re talking 20 minutes or so. Part of the appeal of a sleepover is staying up past your bedtime and it’s a little victory that builds self-determinism. Leave it too long and you’ll be handling an overtired toddler… need we say more.
Leave a light on at night to make visitors feel secure and in case they need to visit the bathroom.
Your baby’s growing up, and this is one of those moments you’ll want to capture and relish for years to come. With a little planning ahead of time, you can observe and enjoy the experience of your child’s growing independence. After all, they are entertaining thier first house guest, and that’s a pretty grown up move in anyone’s book.
Are you planning your first sleep over? What do you think of these tips above. Or perhaps you have some tips to share for a parent their first sleep over . Do share in a comment below.
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