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PARENTS’ SLEEPOVER SURVIVAL GUIDE

1 Make sure your child is ready

As the parent, you are the best person to judge. It is probably too early if a child is clingy, has bedwetting issues or is very dependent on bedtime routines. Make it clear that the child can ask to come home at any time and nobody will mind.

2 Talk to the host parents

This rule applies at any age. When they are younger, be upfront about any concerns or requests you have. With older teenagers, who are making their own arrangements, always check in with the parents.

Parenting coach Marian Byrne says: “Teenagers will resist that, but at the end of the day, if you stick to your guns, they will accept it.”

Make sure the parents have your telephone number, she adds, so “that there is a line of communication there over and above the teen” if there is a problem.

3 Occasional events only

Remember that for every night’s “wakeover” there follows at least one day of crankiness.

So, for younger children anyway, they are best kept as a treat, preferably at holiday time.

4 Limit the numbers

Start with one friend at a time but, let’s face it, you can’t have a “slumber party” without a crowd.

The general consensus is that you can risk having more girls than boys. They will all stay awake as long as they can, but girls are less likely to keep you awake half the night, too.

To be honest, a guestlist of anything over three of either gender sounds like a total nightmare to me!

5 Plan but be flexible

Have some sort of structure for the evening in mind for younger children, whether that involves getting a DVD or making games available, but also be prepared to go with the flow.

Bedtime rules should be relaxed for once – that is the whole point – but eventually be firm about the time for lights out.

6 Perfect the art of subtle surveillance

Plenty of food and their own space is what teenagers want. But you need to check in on them casually from time to time.

One parent recounts how her teenage daughter went to a sleepover where there were 18 of them and the mother sat in with them the whole time.

“The mother was mad to do 18 in the first place and it certainly was not an enjoyable experience for her, but the kids did not enjoy it either.”

7 Don’t be begrudging

If you are not comfortable having your child’s friends in your house on sleepovers, don’t feel you have to allow them.

Seriously fretful or narky parents can ruin the occasion and be more embarrassing for your child than not doing them at all.

Playful firmness is the best approach to take to errant behaviour.

8 Look at the positives

Yes, they may be a hassle to host and the after-effects of sleep deprivation tend to linger, but they are a rite of passage in the journey all children must make away from their parents.

They not only strengthen friendships but also foster independence and social skills.

9 Still against them?

Be honest with yourself about whether it is your child who is not ready for them, or you.

Analyse your concerns and see if they are justified and what could be done to allay them.

“Just saying ‘no’ without giving reasons is counter-productive when raising kids,” advises Martina Newe, co-founder of HelpMe2Parent.

“You can’t control and police every situation for your children,” she adds.

“You can just give them the best advice.”

Source Irish Times

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