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Sleepovers are so much fun for kids, but not necessarily for parents. Here is some coping advice for your child’s first sleepover.

Growing up is so much fun, especially when you’re a little 10-year-old girl. You have been planning your first ever sleep over, all the events for an exciting night are in place and now all that is left is fun, fun, fun. The night is going to be filled with dancing, make-up and make believe, chatting, giggling and watching movies. Except there is one more thing that needs to be considered; asking your parents.

As melodramatic as this sounds, the world really is ending to a young and enthusiastic mind. Sleepovers are an exciting part of growing up, being in a new situation and learning about other families is interesting and enjoyable for young children. Bearing in mind that this might be a scary and worrisome thing for any parent to accept, there are so many concerns, questions and what if’s. Here is some advice that could make sleepovers less stressful for all involved.

Are you and your child sleepover ready?
Children generally start wanting to sleep out when they are about 7 to 8 years old. Children younger than this may be excited initially but might want to come home before the night is through. This is because they suffer from separation anxiety.

If you believe that your child is not ready for sleepovers and he/she still suffers from separation anxiety, then sleepovers are not a good idea. Other signs that might suggest that your child is not ready, includes whether he/she wets the bed, still climbs into your bed during the night and can’t sleep without you falling asleep next to him/her.

It is important that if you do decide to let your child spend a night at a friend’s house that they are able to call and come home at anytime, no matter how late it gets. This way your child will feel less pressured and more comfortable with this safety option. Never refuse to fetch your child, if he/she wants to come home, there must be a reason for this. He/she might have had an argument with their little friend, their might be a thunder storm or your child might have had a bad dream.

If your child has never slept out before, it is a good idea to get your child used to this idea. This can be done by perhaps letting them spend the night at a family member’s house or a family friend. This way they will get used to waking up in a strange and unfamiliar place.

Getting Sleepover Ready
Most parents are uncomfortable with allowing their children to sleep over at a friend’s house. There are so many horror stories, factors and concerns running through your head, that you feel as though you want to keep your child locked up and out of harms way forever. However, this is not possible, socialising, playing and staying over are all a part of growing up. This gives your child a sense of excitement and responsibility. They feel so grown up the first time they stay out and sleep over at a friends house.

You may feel more comfortable with the idea of letting your child’s friend stay over at your house, before your children are allowed to sleep out. This way you will get to know the children and their parents when they are dropped off. Invite the parents in for some coffee and for a quick chat.

It is always a good idea to get to know the parents before you allow your children to stay over. This will give you the opportunity to explain all the necessary information they will need to know about your child. These include allergies, sleeping habits and medication. It is also a good idea to explain different cultural and religious practices, expectations and limitations.

If the sleepover is in honour of a birthday party, find out where your child will be at all times. You should also exchange numbers in case of an emergency. Also find out what your child will need to bring along, some items may include a pillow, blankets, old clothing for painting or cooking, towels and other toiletries.

It is also a good idea to talk to your child while they are staying at a friend’s house, you can remind them about their manners and what is expected of them. Poor behaviour can ruin any celebration and occasion.

Making it fun
It is crucial that the children stay entertained and happy. If the children grow bored, their first ever slumber party will be ruined. Here are some tips for keeping the party alive.

Depending on whether or not the party is a group of little madams or mischievous boys, you will need to get the appropriate entertainment. If it is a girl’s party, perhaps hire costumes so that they can enjoy an evening of fantasy and enchanted wonderlands. Perhaps get their favourite music ready for dancing and singing. Movies are also an excellent way to keep any sleepover alive and full of fun. Allow all the girls to camp out in front of the TV, get ample blankets and pillows ready. If you have a house filled with half a dozen little girls, get ready for a night of unstoppable giggling and squeaky voices.

If your home is going to be filled to the brim with little boys, be ready for an active and busy night. Have all the toy cars, action figures and plastic swords ready for hours of fun. Again, the latest kiddie’s action movie or animation will keep the boys happy and busy for a few hours. If it is safe to do so, allow the boys to enjoy the adventure of sleeping in your yard, under the stars.

Depending on how old these little party goers are, be sure that they go to bed at a reasonable hour. No parent wants to spend the next day looking after an exhausted and irritable child.

Good Night and Good Luck
Sleepovers are fun for all young children; it is all a part of growing up. However, as parents this is a scary and frightening thing to consider. Be sure to get to know the family your child will be staying with. If anything does unfortunately go wrong, you need to be accessible to your child at all times. It is also important that you find out all the relevant information like whether they will be going out or staying in, how many children will be staying over, as well as some idea of the other parent’s parenting style, not forgetting their home address.

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