Last weekend, the kids each had a sleepover. Unfortunately, I couldn’t manage to schedule them both on the same night, so it kind of felt like an elementary school B&B here (except for the part where I drag my ass out of bed and cook everyone breakfast).
Anyway, my buddy, Cheryl, who’s much more experienced in the sleepover department, sent this little guide on how to deal with “small-sized, temporary guests.” I almost peed my pants when I read it (the irony of that won’t be lost on you when you’re about halfway through).
We’ve all been there. Starting at about 5 or 6, our children begin wanting other people’s children to be invited to sleep over. The trouble with this is a) sometimes I don’t like other people’s children, hereinafter referred to as “OPC,” b) most of the time I really don’t like them enough to have them more than 24 hours, even if I do like them, and c) see a and b. But…you want to make your kids happy (sometimes) and have them well-adjusted socially, so this means that at some point you will have to host a sleepover.
Apparently, I’m a cool mom. I haven’t been explicitly told this by my children, but they never want to sleep over at anyone’s house. Ever. Even when they are invited to a sleepover birthday, we prearrange that they will get picked up before bed. Both tried it, but just prefer waking up in their own beds, and hanging with their own family. So I just culled from that that I must be so cool they can’t be without me.
All of this coolness, however, translates in only being the host for OPC. OPC’s love sleeping at my house too (I wonder if I could market my awesomeness…but I digress). This has led me to create one cardinal rule, the one rule I never break. Back story first.
My son came home with a new friend in fifth grade. My son didn’t have a lot of (any) friends so when he brought someone home, we were thrilled. This particular boy, we’ll call him Fabian, was articulate, sweet, and a not-yet-out homosexual. We are talking future leader of the Gay Pride Parade. My son had defended him against some bullies who were calling him a “fag.” We hate that, so my son protected and befriended Fabian.
Right away he asks if Fabian can sleep over. I say sure, why not? Fabian calls his mom. I’ve never met her, by the way. She tells him it’s fine with her, but just so I know, I’d have to keep him all weekend, because she was going away for a girl’s weekend, and if his dad didn’t take him one day, he certainly wouldn’t come back for him the next. Hmm. Well. Okay.
As we pick up his bag at his house, his mother tells me, oh, and by the way. He wets the bed. A lot. You must make him go before bed. And wake him up in the middle of the night. And you might want to lay some plastic down.
Seriously???!!! This is information you tell someone BEFORE you agree to let your kid sleep there, and you discuss it discreetly. So now I have a bedwetter ALL WEEKEND. Freaking awesome.
Fabian? He’s a pain in the ass. He never shuts up. He insists we rent Hairspray, not the old, the new…because ZAC EFFRON’S IN IT!!! (said in a very loud, sing song voice, and punctuated with tea claps). He watches High School Musical and performs EVERY SINGLE DANCE. In front of the t.v., back to us. He is picky, and barely eats. He never shuts up. Did I mention…he never shuts up? So after washing bedding from his portabed I made on the floor, three times, despite waking and prodding to go…and making special meals, and watching shows I’d never wanted to watch…
I develop my cardinal rule. My kids can have OPC sleepovers on Friday night only. OPC may arrive at 5 or later. They are invited to dine with us. Pickup is after breakfast on Saturday. 10 a.m. That’s it. Simple, clean, and painless. You can entertain any OPC for 17 hours, when you consider a minimum of 5 of that will be spent sleeping. Between dinner, bedtime rituals, and breakfast, there’s very little entertaining to do. Your kids can feel that they did, in fact, have a sleepover, but you do not become foster parents to OPC. The other benefit of this is that they aren’t together long enough to get annoyed with each other, thereby annoying you.
On to tips…pre-planning is key. Stock up on your snacks, rental movies, board games, etc. Have an idea of what they will do. Have a plan A, B and C.
A great thing to do with girls (or boys, if they are into it) is let them have a “make-up” party. I make sure it’s okay with the other parent first, in case there are any skin issues, and I don’t allow them to do eyeliner or mascara, because I don’t believe in blinding OPC…but other than that, all bets are off. They are not allowed to leave the house with it on. At all. This entertains them forever. I keep a jar of Ponds that is bigger than my head for such occasions. I stock up on cheap and clearance makeup just for this. They love it.
So there you have it. The cardinal rule. You are welcome.