by Suzee Skwiot
Summer is fast approaching and that means your tween is going to want to host the dreaded sleepover. Great, just what you were hoping for -- a dozen squealing preteens singing "Let It Go" for hours on end with no actual "sleep" in sight (for them or you).
But sleepovers don't have to be completely stressful (and sleep-less). If you set some clear guidelines beforehand -- from food to cellphones to activity rules -- the night will go a lot more smoothly.
We asked moms for their best sleepover advice, and here's what they had to say:
- Have a designated "lights out" time. Sure, you can let them stay up as late as they want, because chances are you won't have to deal with them much the next day. But for the sake of their parents, have a "lights out" time when everyone burrows into their sleeping bags and cozies up on the floor. They can lay around and chat for hours longer, but at least you'll guarantee they'll get a couple hours of zzz's.
- Set out the snacks. Make it clear to kids: if they're hungry, ask, and you'll deliver, but don't let them go through your pantry and grab whatever they're craving. Set specific foods out for the event (if it's a themed party, leave the snack out for the night), but make sure they don't inhale your entire weekly grocery stash.
- Say no to soda. You can learn this the hard way, or you can enforce it from the get-go. You don't want a dozen preteens hyped up on sodas in the middle of the night. Limit the beverages, or you might have the kiddos crashing during their morning cereal.
- Don't reveal your Wi-Fi password. Listen, kids are creative, especially now that they have phones. Sleepovers are full of chatting about (and with) boys, watching videos, and sharing secrets. But make sure none of that makes it online by limiting their Internet. Turn off the Wi-Fi or reset the password at a certain time (or, better yet, when you go to sleep). That way, you'll know they can't get onto restricted sites late at night.
- Pump-down the volume. This is both for voices and TV. Make sure you let the kids know how loud is too loud.
- Keep things inside. Seems like common sense, but these are kids you're dealing with. Simply say, "Don't leave the house." Clearly state that they can't go in the backyard (if you don't want them to), egg a neighbor's house a la Justin Bieber, head to the nearest 7-Eleven, or leave the house for any reason.
- Let them say goodnight to their parents. If they have cellphones and need to reach their parents, give them a time to do so. (It might help curb homesickness.) If mom and dad dropped them off and insisted a check-in, make sure it's done before you head upstairs.
- Talk about siblings. If there are other siblings in the house that you don't want guests interacting with, make sure to let them know. Or set another rule: If you wake up the toddler, you'll sit with her until she falls asleep. Simple, fair, and totally understandable.
- Hang a "Do Not Disturb" sign on your door. If you don't want guests in the master bedroom, let them know. Set up a rule that in the event of an emergency, your child should be the one to alert you.
- Leave the house intact. Basic and final rule: just don't burn down the house. But maybe this shouldn't apply only to slumber parties.
What rules do you set for sleepovers?