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9 Sleepover Tips Every Parent Should Know

9 Sleepover Tips Every Parent Should Know

Parents naturally want to protect their kids and keep them safe and out of trouble. Trusting your kid will be safe at school or with babysitters can be hard enough, but when it comes to sleepovers—even with family and close friends—it can be difficult to let go and trust your kid to someone else’s care.

However, almost every child is going to want to spend the night at their best friends’ homes, go to an overnight camp, or have friends over for the night at your home at some point.

Mentally preparing yourself for sleepovers can make them easier to accept and much less stressful for both parents and kids alike. Here are a few sleepover tips so that slumber parties won’t make you pull your hair out..

1. Make sure your child is ready

As the parent, you will be the best judge of whether or not your child is ready for sleepovers, and whether or not a particular sleepover is a wise idea. Some kids may be perfectly fine at seven or eight while others might not be ready until their teen years.

If they don’t sleep easily on their own, if they wet the bed, or if they still wake up and come to your bed for comfort they might not be ready quite yet. Basically, they should have good “sleep skills” before attending sleepovers: able to fall asleep themselves without your help or much fuss and be able to sleep through the night with few interruptions.

You can always try out a few “late-overs” first (letting your child stay late but picking them up to sleep at home), or a sleepover with grandma or cousins to see how they handle being without you.

Some parents or kids may never be comfortable with sleepovers for whatever reason and that is fine, too. It’s ultimately a decision for you as a parent and you have to trust your gut.

Knowing if your child is ready

    2. Chat with fellow parents

    One of the best ways to have an easier time with sleepovers is to coordinate the details with fellow parents and get to know them in advance.

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    Think about it like this: do you know them well enough to loan them your car for a night? If you would have objections about giving them your keys then sending your kid over may not be wise!

    If you are the host, reach out to the parents via phone or in person, make sure you have their current contact information handy, ask if there are any allergies to be aware of, or if there are any other things you need to know about their stay with you. Make it clear if you are planning activities like swimming that would require special clothes or gear so there’s no upsets.

    If you are sending your kid to a sleepover, check in with the other parent let them know the same thing. See what the evening will entail so you know what to pack. You might also want to ask who else will be in the house, their house rules and supervision plans, and other important questions.

    For kids with dietary restrictions, it’s always appreciated (and less stressful for you) if you send a ready-made meal and a few safe snacks along with your kiddo. Other parents may not be savvy with gluten-free/nut-free meals, despite their best intentions, and it’s often easiest just to avoid that stress for both parties.

    Get Chatty With Fellow Parents

      3. Explain sleepover etiquette and safety to your child

      Whether you’re hosting or sending, explain the rules and boundaries of sleepovers ahead of time to your child.

      Minding manners, being polite, and respecting rules and the homes of host parents are important points to cover. Kids can get mischievous in groups, so making it clear that they are still subject to normal rules and consequences can be a good idea.

      Safety is often the number-one concern for parents. When your child is going to someone else’s sleepover, make sure your kid has your phone number memorized and knows that they can call you at any time if they feel uncomfortable.

      Many parents also like to go over the basic aspects of physical safety with their kids. Parenthood.com has an excellent article on smart sleepovers, and safety expert Pattie Fitzgerald has a good short video and an article covering some of the concerns parents might have.

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      Explain Sleepover Etiquette & Safety to Your Child

        4. Simple is best

        When you are ready to plan a slumber party, remember that simple is always best—that goes for activities, food, or planning.

        You don’t need to have a three-ring circus in your living room to keep kids entertained. Often a few board games, a movie, crafts, or free play are more than enough. Don’t stress yourself out planning an action-packed night or a difficult outing.

        The same goes for food. You might be super proud of your cumin-scented pot roast and root vegetables that got 100 likes on Instagram, but the gaggle of grade-schoolers you’re serving may not appreciate it as much.

        So keep the food simple. Chicken strips or nuggets, veggies and dip, cut-up fruit, sandwiches, and pizza are just a few classic kid-friendly standbys that will make meal times smoother.

        If you have older kids over, you could also get them in on the fun by having them make their own pizzas, subs or tacos.

        Repeat This Mantra: Simple is Best

          5. Lay ground rules from the start

          One of the best ways to avoid arguments and problems during the night is to set firm but reasonable rules from the beginning. This might include where kids can play, indoor rules for your home, outside boundaries, soda limits, and internet/phone boundaries.

          Also, don’t forget to set a firm lights-out time to ensure everyone gets enough sleep. The last thing you’ll want to deal with are a bunch of cranky and tired kids the next morning. Plus, other parents will definitely thank you!

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          Keep in mind age-appropriate bedtimes for your group and plan accordingly. Remember, kids under 12 need at least 10 to 11 hours of sleep per night, and even teens need around nine hours.

          Lay Out Ground Rules from the Get Go

            6. Keep contact information in a central location

            Many savvy parents will already have contact info for the parents of their kids’ friends. But it can be extra helpful to print out all the names and numbers of parents whose kids will be at your sleepover ahead of time and keep it in an easy-to-find location like your purse or the fridge.

            This way if an issue or emergency pops up, you won’t have to search around for contacts or call dozens of numbers while dealing with a stressed or rowdy kid.

            Keep Contact Information in a Central Spot

              7. Pack the essentials, but get your kid’s input, too

              The core sleepover kit for younger kids includes a toothbrush and toothpaste, hairbrush, pajamas, and at least one other outfit. Check to see if they need to bring their own sleeping bag and/or pillow.

              If your child likes to sleep with a specific stuffed animal or blanket toss that in, too. Don’t forget to ask them if there’s a specific toy or other item they want to take with them (within reason) so there’s no regrets or tears later. Run through a quick inventory checklist before you leave the house just to double check.

              Pack The Essentials for Your Kid, but Get Their Input, too

                8. Supervise, but don’t tyrannize

                If you are the host parent, it’s obviously your responsibility to supervise the kids in your care and make sure they don’t get hurt or do anything too crazy.

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                But most kids, especially in the middle school years, will want to spend some time giggling and playing with their friends without mom and dad looming over or leading every single action.

                Definitely check in from time to time, lay clear ground rules and keep both ears and eyes open, but don’t stress yourself out about watching them every single minute.

                If your child is away, you can also request a call before bed so that you can check in and make sure everything is okay without being too “embarrassing.”

                Supervise, But Don't Monopolize

                  9. Expect the unexpected

                  Expect the unexpected is the perfect saying for dealing with sleepovers and kids. You can plan the perfect slumber party to the T, but the kids might be more interested in an activity you didn’t plan, one or two kids might get homesick, the pizza might show up wrong, and someone might scrape a knee.

                  Be flexible with your plans and be prepared for deviations. If you are sending your child to a sleepover, make sure your phone is charged and handy and that you aren’t too far away in case something pops up.

                  For hosts, in addition to keeping parents’ contacts handy, keep a backup kid-friendly movie and a few extra snacks around, have basic first aid stuff and emergency numbers on hand, and remember—simple is best!

                  Spongebob Slumber Party

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                    Last Updated on September 20, 2018

                    How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

                    How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

                    Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

                    If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

                    1. Breathe

                    The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

                    • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
                    • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
                    • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

                    Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

                    2. Loosen up

                    After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

                    Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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                    3. Chew slowly

                    Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

                    Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

                    Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

                    4. Let go

                    Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

                    The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

                    It’s not. Promise.

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                    Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

                    Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

                    21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

                    5. Enjoy the journey

                    Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

                    Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

                    6. Look at the big picture

                    The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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                    Will this matter to me…

                    • Next week?
                    • Next month?
                    • Next year?
                    • In 10 years?

                    Hint: No, it won’t.

                    I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

                    Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

                    7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

                    You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

                    Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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                    8. Practice patience every day

                    Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

                    • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
                    • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
                    • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

                    Final thoughts

                    Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

                    Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

                    Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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