Sleepovers are supposed to be the perfect way for kids to spend time with their friends. They'll stay up a little later than usual, play fun games, watch a good movie and go to sleep. Sounds like the ideal night of fun and bonding, right?
More often than not, sleepovers just end up being the stuff of nightmares.
We've all heard the horror stories. And unfortunately, more bad stuff seems to happen at sleepovers than expectedly watching a Disney movie and falling to sleep right after. It's for this reason many parents are opting for sleepover alternatives or to not do sleepovers at all. The reasoning? Sleepovers are simply a bad idea.
How well do you know the parents of your child's friend? Even if you can answer a lot of personal questions about them, it may not be enough. No matter how much we'd like to think we know our friends and neighbors, sometimes we hardly know them at all. This isn't a matter of distrust, it's a matter of keeping your children safe. Of course you can still maintain friendships and relationships with them, but the best place for your children to sleep at night is at home, in their own beds. Whether or not your friends and neighbors are good or bad people isn't the question - it's a matter of keeping your children away from potentially bad situations.
2. Nothing good happens after midnight
Some of the wildest ideas occur to us after a certain hour of the night. Add in a bunch of young, impressionable minds, a desire to break a few rules, and a pinch of peer pressure, and you've got a bad situation on your hands. Even with a good amount of parental supervision, kids have a way of keeping secrets and sneaking around. Bringing children together for a long night to sleep in the same room together can bring about potentially negative things - things you may not want your child to be exposed to. Not allowing sleepovers prevents unnecessary things from happening.
3. Very little sleep actually happens
While the word "sleep" is in "sleepover" that doesn't mean anybody is actually sleeping. Some kids try to pull all-nighters and even when they try to sleep, they can't. Being in an unfamiliar home in an unfamiliar bed does not allow for a restful night. Children need quality sleep. Sleepovers don't allow them that.
If you want to be a dutiful parent or host of a sleepover, make sure cell phones or other electronic devices are off and put away. Social media combined with a sleepover has the potential to make other children victims of cyberbullying or feel left out for not being invited.
5. The morning after can be disconcerting
Waking up somewhere unfamiliar is already disconcerting, but morning habits of the friend's family can be even more so. It's a little strange when you're young to see an adult in their pajamas. What's worse is waking up before everyone else and not knowing if you should get up and go to the bathroom or not. It's one of the most awkward things to go through. While it may seem like a little thing, this can actually be emotionally stressful for your child.
6. Sleepovers should be for special circumstances only
Of course there are special circumstances where children may need to stay at a friend's, neighbor's, or relative's home for the night. In that case, it's up to you as a parent to make that decision. To best protect your child, sleepovers should only happen in such special circumstances or with close relatives. You know your family better than anyone else, and you probably trust them more than anyone else. Still, you will have reservations, family or not. When special circumstances do arise, make sure your children understands why this is an exception to the "no sleepover" rule.
7. It's up to you to decide what's best for your children
As parents, it is up to you to ultimately decide what is best for your children. You may decide to let your children have sleepovers with certain rules. This is completely okay. Other parents may choose to allow their kids have "late-nights" or "late-overs" which lets their kids stay for the popcorn and movie, but leave when everyone else is going to sleep. If the group is having breakfast the next morning, let your children come back over. This way, your child sleeps in a much safer environment while still participating in activities.
Sleepovers are generally a bad idea. It's ultimately up to you and your spouse to decide what is best for your children. There are good, wholesome alternatives to sleepovers that still allow your children to have fun while keeping them safe.
Callie has two Bachelor of Arts degrees in English and Communication and when she isn’t writing, she’s reading. Some of her favorite things include Harry Potter, all things Disney, road trips, and telling stories.