By TMoM Team Member Anna Keller

My 6.5-year-old, Maggie, had been looking forward to her first “real” sleepover all summer. Back in May, we decided on a date for the event and coordinated a Friday night that worked for three of her best kindergarten friends from last year. Finally, at the end of July, it was GO TIME! We hosted the event at our house and it was so much fun! (Note: All of us needed a nap the next day…)

Below are a few things that helped us prepare for the sleepover.

Invite an even number of guests, if possible.

I felt like four was an ideal number for Maggie’s sleepover. With three kids, someone was bound to feel left out at some point, but an even number helps to make that less likely.

Choose activities (involving your child in the agenda prep).

Maggie knew she wanted to build a fort with her friends, do face masks and watch a movie. Plus, I suggested we also do some jewelry making and nail painting. I also mentioned that we should also turn dinnertime into an activity with a build-your-own pizza situation. Maggie was excited about all those ideas, and we decided on them well in advance so we could get everything we needed to prep for them. We were careful to choose activities everyone could do at the same time.

Talk about the responsibility of being a host with your child.

We made sure to talk with Maggie about what her job was as the host of the sleepover. She could help to make sure her guests felt comfortable and had what they needed. She could also help by doing her best to make sure people were having fun while they were here.

We talked about the potential for disappointment before guests arrived.

Maggie was so excited about all we had planned for her and her guests, but we reminded her that some guests might want to do other activities or might want to do things differently than she had envisioned. We encouraged her to remember that being flexible is important and that it would help her have as much fun as possible throughout!

Communicate well with the other parents before, during, and after the sleepover.

Beforehand, you’re going over logistics like timing, food preferences, and other details of that nature. I also made sure to give them an overview of our planned activities so they and their children would know (and hopefully would be excited about it!) in advance. Then, during the sleepover, I made sure to snap lots of photos and send updates along the way. I know I’d love to get texts like that if Maggie was at someone else’s house! After the girls all went home, I made sure all the parents knew we’d all had a wonderful time, and that their girls were great guests.

Make the sleeping space comfortable and a level playing field.

If possible, I think having all the kids sleep on the floor is a helpful equalizer (rather than having one or two kids in a bed or on a couch and others on the floor, for example). We have a Nugget pillow set and a bed roll, and so we used those, supplementing with a bed roll one guest let me know she was bringing. Every girl had a sleeping bag to put on top of their bed roll and they all slept on the living room floor.

Stay close by.

Once the girls finished play, craft, and dinner time and had transitioned into the living room to watch a movie, Kevin and I camped out in the kitchen, chatting with each other and also being easily available as we were needed. We were needed often, so that proximity was really helpful! Once we went upstairs to sleep, we made sure all the girls knew where our room was and that they could come to get us if they needed to.

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