My older kids have been doing sleepovers with their best friends for years. It’s evolved to where we have some rules around the sleepover and I am certainly picky about which of their friends I believe offer a safe and supervised environment for one of my children spending the night, but generally I like the idea and have certainly hosted a lot of other teens or tweens at my place.
We do have some rules, but they’re pretty benign:
- No sleepovers on school nights.
- No more than one sleepover in a row (to avoid the back and forth weekend of zero sleep).
- If it’s at my house, they can stay up an hour or so past a normal bedtime, but still have to sleep.
- No mixed-gender sleepovers, but > 1 guest is fine on special occasions.
As with everything else parenting, I retain veto right (it’s great to be the king sometimes) and my children know that being able to spend the night at a friend’s house, or having a friend at our house is a privilege, so being rude, hostile or obstreperous the day before — or the afternoon of — the planned sleepover is a very poor strategy indeed.
It’s worked well too, and while I can think of sleepovers where there hasn’t been much sleep, I can’t recall any real disasters other than an occasional allergy attack that required me to go and get my son a few times. Notably, I’ve also hosted slumber parties where my teen daughter and as many as 4 or 5 of her friends all stay up late watching (typically bad) movies and chatting, then take over the living room and pass out. My son’s done that too, once or twice, and again, it’s all worked out surprisingly well.
I can remember my now 12yo having his first sleepover attempt and me going to get him around 10pm because he just couldn’t get to sleep at a strange house after all. No worries. In fact, that was amusing because unbeknownst to him, I’d traded in my old car for a brand new Highlander and when I came to pick him up, it took about five groggy minutes for it to register in his brain that he was in a new vehicle. Quite amusing!
For my oldest, now 16, I think we started sleepovers at around 12 or so. My son has been having and hosting sleepovers for a number of years now, starting when he was around 8, I think. And my little one, who’s 9? I have neither hosted nor allowed her to have a sleepover as of yet because third grade feels a bit young, though her Mom’s allowed her to have a friend spend the night at her house a few times.
Hence my question, and it’s probably more rhetorical than anything else: how young is too young for a sleepover? When I think back on it, my son must have been having sleepovers by the time he was 9yo, but somehow my girl seems so darn young at the same age. And yet she’s probably the most worldly of them all with a teen sister and an about-to-be-teen brother.
I’ll probably give her the green light to have very occasional sleepovers / occasionally have a friend spend the night at my place, but it’s interesting to me how comfortable I am with the older kids doing this and how reticent I am to have her do the same…