The sleepover party: Avoid at all costs

“Daddy, can I please have a sleepover at Catherine’s house?” said Izzy. Under normal circumstances the word sleepover is enough to make me want to jump on an airplane and disappear into the Australian outback, never to return. This request, however, came as an even bigger surprise.

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The sleepover party. So much more trouble than it’s worth.

Izzy and Catherine, you see, are not what you’d call BFFs.  They are in the same gymnastics class so only see each other once a week.

Added to this, the only words that had passed between Catherine’s mother and I were a mumbled “hello” as we passed each other during the lessons. If my kids are going to have a sleepover, I’d like to know mum and / or dad considerably better.

Although we’d never spoken, it was Catherine’s mother who saved me from this awkward situation.  Overhearing the conversation, and no doubt having similar thoughts to me, she intervened and said calmly:

“Perhaps we can organise a play date first.”

That play date is yet to happen. I’ll tell you now though, any play date will take place long before a sleepover.

Sleepovers; oh my word how I dislike them. They never really appealed to me that much as a kid, but my offspring love the idea of having a gang of friends around to stay overnight.

When Helen was a little bit younger, Mrs Adams and I had a couple of experiences that left us wary of sleepovers. On one occasion, the daughter of a close friend came to stay. In the early hours of the morning she woke up and was tearful because her parents weren’t around. It took quite a bit of effort to console her and Mrs Adams and I have no desire to repeat that experience.

We also don’t want to repeat the ‘room trashing’ that happened on another occasion. Helen and the friend staying over played with every toy, every board game and every deck of cards in Helen’s bedroom.

It wouldn’t have been so bad if they had put everything away, but they hadn’t. Helen’s bedroom looked like Led Zeppelin had been in there and thrown one of their notorious post-gig, hotel room parties. It’s just as we ll there wasn’t a television on the room or it would probably have been hurled out the window.

Needless to say, Mrs Adams and I tidied up straight away, but with every board game and pack of cards having been unboxed, it was months until that room was back in the state it had been before that particular sleepover. After that experience, we came to the conclusion Helen was simply too young to have friends to stay overnight.

Here we are, a little while later. Helen has attended one or two sleepover parties. I confess, she even had a friend stay overnight during the summer holidays and I have to say, it went well.

Nonetheless, Helen keeps asking if she can have a big group round to stay. I cannot tell you how utterly unappealing this is.

They’re all good kids. I have no reason to think they’d do anything particularly bad.

I just don’t need the stress. Taking charge of other people’s kids overnight is a massive responsibility.

When Helen has been on sleepovers, I’ve worried about her. I’ve wanted to get in touch with the host parents and check she is okay. This, however, just makes your child look uncool.

As for Izzy, well, she’s clearly trying to emulate what her big sister and her friends do. She knows they have sleepovers and she wants to do the same.

In fact, another family has tentatively mentioned having Izzy round for a sleepover. Mrs Adams and I really aren’t sure about this. As far as we’re concerned, it isn’t happening as she’s only five and just too young.

No, sleepovers can do one as far as I’m concerned. They’re a form of stress us mums and dads just don’t need until our kids are much, much older.

Do you allow your kids to have sleepovers? Have you ever had a bad sleepover experience? Do you think they’re easy to police or do you find them very stressful? Please do leave a comment below with your thoughts.

Lucy At Home UK parenting blogger

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14 Comments

  1. October 11, 2018 / 5:43 am

    Sleepovers what a nightmare one of my older children went to a sleepover when she was 13 I ended up picking her her at midnight as their was argument and she wanted to go home. I agree both your girls are way too young for sleepovers fab read as always mate

    • John Adams
      Author
      October 15, 2018 / 5:47 am

      As ever Nigel, commenting from harsh experience! I guess the difficulty is that at 13 kids can have pretty major fall outs, not kiddy fall outs. Oh I look forward to the teen years!

  2. October 12, 2018 / 7:18 am

    Urgh the sleep over thing is a stress when they are young! Later on, I’m not sure what was worse – wondering what they were getting up to in someone else’s house or having your own house trashed when you return the ‘favour’. I hate to tell you but once it starts it never ends. My kids are 26 and 28. They have both moved out, but somehow we still have their mates sleeping round after get togethers haha! xx

    • John Adams
      Author
      October 15, 2018 / 5:48 am

      I kind of imagine that at 26 and 28 they at least know how to behave. They do don’t they? I don’t have to worry about another Led Zeppelin-esque room trashing do I? Promise me I don’t.

  3. October 12, 2018 / 9:08 am

    I totally agree that 5 is too young to sleep over, or you end up with a situation like you had with the young girl really being homesick. I think that 9 or 10 is a better age to be starting this, I think that I was that age when I first stayed away from home for a night, and at that point it was an exciting experience rather than a scary one. #BlogCrush

    • John Adams
      Author
      October 15, 2018 / 5:46 am

      Yeah, you live and learn. I think five is too young for a sleepover. Nine or ten seems about right. It’s the number of people the kids want to invite round that does my head in. Can’t be one or two, oh no, they want five or six! too many!

  4. October 12, 2018 / 1:24 pm

    5 definitely seems way too young to have a sleepover at another child’s house. We’ve yet to venture into sleepover land but I can imagine the 1st time would be nerve wracking #blogcrush

    • John Adams
      Author
      October 15, 2018 / 5:42 am

      I wish you luck when you eventually experience one Annette. may it go smoothly for you and thanks for commenting.

  5. October 12, 2018 / 1:24 pm

    Never liked them … although in later years, the kids learned to quiten it down, so at least we were not sleep deprived. A necessary evil, I reckon

    • John Adams
      Author
      October 15, 2018 / 5:41 am

      Nothing wrong with kids staying at other locations. if anything, it’s character building. I’m just maybe not keen on it happening under our roof! Then again, if it does happen at our place, we can police it. Oh it;s all so confusing Enda.

  6. October 13, 2018 / 3:52 pm

    I hate sleepovers too. My son went to stay over at his friend’s house when he was 5. I got a phonecall at 3am because he was homesick! I begrudgingly dragged myself out of bed to pick him up. I mellowed when I saw his little face all scrunched up and gave him a huge hug. Never again though! #BlogCrush

    • John Adams
      Author
      October 15, 2018 / 5:40 am

      Oh wow, 3am, That’s harsh. thing is kids seem to have sleepovers at a younger and younger age. That’s my impression and that probably leads to these issues. Then again, check out the comment from Nigel above. he had to collect his kid from a sleepover when they were 13!

  7. October 18, 2018 / 6:47 pm

    Our kids have sleepovers with their cousins, but that’s it. I would have to know the parents extremely well before letting them take my kids overnight, because they’d have to be in charge of making sure toileting is done, getting them ready for bed, etc. I would just be too worried about some kind of abuse taking place. I know the chances of anything bad happening are teeny tiny, but I would rather not take the risk. Having worked with children who have faced this at home, it’s not always easy to spot the homes where this stuff is going on (and it can often be an older sibling so the parents don’t know it’s happening either). I know most people would think I’m being silly but I think, like so much of parenting, you just have to go with your gut reaction and make the decisions that you personally are comfortable with. #blogcrush

    • John Adams
      Author
      October 19, 2018 / 11:24 am

      I can understand this. A horrible thought that a sibling would hurt another kid but I guess it can happen. Think the world would be a better place without sleepovers full stop!