How to host a successful and stress-free sleepover

Image: Shutterstock
Image: Shutterstock 

Waking to the sounds of your children and their friends giggling is the best, but for many parents sleepovers are the worst.

They don't need to be.  

Here are 10 simple tips to make them fun for everyone, even the parents.

1. Plan ahead

Ambush sleepovers are rarely fun, unless you really are in the mood to have someone else's kid at your home. Instead, look at your diary and pick a date that you don't have a super busy weekend.

2. Make it short

Sleepovers work best if they are short and sweet. We get parents to drop their kids off about 4pm and pick them up by 10am the next day. It gives kids less time to get bored of each other and it also means we still get two full days either side of the sleepover to do family things.

3. Be prepared

Before the kids arrive, have their beds ready, a meal plan sorted and activities ready to go. Anything you can do beforehand will help the sleepover go smoothly and reduce the work you have to do while excited kids rampage around your home. 

4. Give the kids jobs

The age of your kids will dictate how much of the sleepover you get them to sort out. As my kids get older, they are expected to be more and more responsible for getting the house clean, thinking up fun things to do and preparing the home for their guests. We make it clear that if they don't help, then there won't be another sleepover for a long time. 

5. Have plenty of food

Make sure you provide a lot of food, as you'll be surprised how much extra everyone eats when they're in a pack. Loads of milk, bread, fresh fruit and snacks that you pop in a bowl in the middle of the dining table will help keep them quiet. And less likely to come asking for food every 10 minutes.

6. Make the kids the hosts

Sleepovers are the perfect time to teach your kids how to be good hosts. Put them in change of making sure their friends have water, know where the toilet is and have enough to eat. Make sure they tell their friends if they feel scared and want to go home they can always go to them. Give them the chance to organise the games, pick the special snacks and plan the finer details of the night.  

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7. Have activities planned

Keeping them busy is the key to ensure your night is a little less chaotic. Get the kids to make slime, play monopoly, watch movies or get under the sprinkler. They will quickly get bored of each thing, so having a number of activities at hand will help.

If all else fails, take them to the park and get them to run out their excitement. For older kids, simply giving them the privacy to feel grown-up will be appreciated. 

8. Be the boss

Give some ground rules to the kids at the start of the sleepover. Let them know the rules of the house and make sure they are clear that you expect everyone to chip-in and clean-up the mess as they go, respect each other and be careful in your home. 

9. Have a set bedtime

Let everyone know what time you'd like them to be asleep and stick to it. Lights out, TV switched off and no devices after a designated time. Even if they stay up talking, they'll slowly drift off to sleep when there are no external distractions. 

10. Chill-out day

Never plan a sleepover when you have a big event the next day, as you'll be tired. And the last thing you want is exhausted kids. Take the time out to relax and give your kids the opportunity to catch up on sleep and quiet time.

And remember sleepovers are meant to be fun. Give the kids the space to be free. By being organised and clear about what you expect of each child, it will help it all go smoothly.

And hopefully, you'll get a bit of time to relax while the kids go wild.