My daughter is turning 10 next week, and since it’s not every day a girl enters the double-digits, I’m letting her have a slumber party with a few close girlfriends. As I was planning, I sat back in amazement and wondered how my daughter got to be 10 without ever hosting a slumber party. And then I started to wonder if she’s ever even been to a bonafide slumber party? I’m not sure that she has.

Then one of the moms, who happens to a friend of mine too, caught me after school to ask if it was ok if her daughter attended, but didn’t spend the night. “My husband and I decided when we started having kids to just avoid the whole sleepover thing,” she said, almost apologetically.

Of course it’s fine -- we’re just happy that she can come help us celebrate at all -- but it got me thinking about whether the decline of the slumber party was in my head or if it’s a real thing. So I skipped off to Google (the source of all knowledge), and after a couple of searches, my suspicions were confirmed: Sleepovers have become an increasingly endangered species in recent years.

Some of the reasons for this are pretty legit, but if you’re someone that believes slumber parties are a rite of passage, there are some things you can do to make sure your kids have a fun and safe night when they’re at an overnighter.

  1. Strictly Enforce the One-Gender-Only Rule. So I’m not a progressive parent. Sue me. I just don’t think there’s any reason to mix boys and girls overnight. It’s not just about the opportunity for them to do naughty things, but also about the pressure of being ‘on’ for the opposite gender. Let the kids worry about impressing their crushes in the halls at school, not on at 1 a.m. on someone’s living room floor.
  2. Know the Parents. You don’t have to get a background check or anything, but you should be familiar and comfortable with all the adults that will be home at the time of the sleepover. If they are unwilling to answer your questions or respond to any concerns, you probably have your answer on whether or not it’s a good idea to let your child attend. Speaking of parents ...            
  3. Make Sure There Will Be Supervision. No, older teen siblings don’t count. You may also inquire as to how much supervision ... as in, will the parent turn a blind eye if the 10-year-olds turn on an R-rated movie, or will they suggest something more appropriate?
  4. Share Your Contact Info. It’s a good idea to trade cellphone numbers and ask that the supervising adult save your contact info in his or her phone in case of an emergency.
  5. Tell Your Kids It’s OK to Ask to Be Picked Up. This could apply to any age -- the younger ones because they miss home, or the older ones because they feel uncomfortable with the direction the party is going. Tell them it’s perfectly fine to feign a tummy ache, cramps, whatever, and you’ll be there in as long as it takes to put on pants and drive over. Chances are they won’t call, but the reassurance that they can might help them make it through the night. And if you have teens that call, let’s say because alcohol was introduced and they didn’t want to participate ... buy them a present the next day.
  6. Opt for ‘Late Night’ Instead of ‘All Night.’ Some parents, like my dear friend who asked if it’s ok for her daughter to come to the party but not spend the night, just don’t want to get into the whole sleepover thing. That’s totally cool -- we all have to make parenting decisions that make us feel comfortable. I love that she still wants her girl to come have fun with us.

Do your kids go to slumber parties?


Image via anneheathen/Flickr