I went to plenty of sleepovers as a girl. And I thought they were fun. But after becoming a mother, and experiencing the proverbial reality check, I have to say the sparkle is now gone. In fact, they seem to be on the decline in our culture. After 14 years of marriage, I can’t tell you how many parents I’ve run across who say “We don’t do sleepovers.”
Anyhow, if your child has been asked and you’re not sure whether to say “yes” or “no,” here’s my perspective. Or, if you are a huge sleepover fan and can’t wait to host the next one at YOUR house, here are some thoughts from the other side…..
Why I Don’t Like Sleepovers
You don’t sleep much at a sleepover.
It’s a dream come true for the children, but a nightmare for the parents! Especially when you have to deal with grouches the next day.
But you can lay down rules, right? Have you ever tried to force a bunch of hyped-up adolescents to go to sleep? You can’t. And unless you have a separate bedroom for each guest, good luck trying to police the whispering and secret-telling that goes on after your “official bedtime” has come and gone. Who wants to stay up until midnight being the bad guy and telling other people’s children to be quiet and go to sleep? You may put them to bed at 10, but they can still stay awake until 1. And what happens after the host parents give up and fall asleep themselves?
You lose a lot of oversight.
As a conscientious mother or father, you can plan ahead and ask questions, but that doesn’t guarantee anything once your child is out of sight for such a long time. Unfortunately, the parents you spoke to may forget what you said, or they may just brush your concerns aside. “No one else has a problem with this movie, so I’m sure that family won’t mind,” they may reason. Nor can you plan for surprises like what the other family’s teenage son (or his friends) might be doing or watching at the time of the sleepover. The children may all end up doing something you forgot to ask about (go somewhere outside the home, get out video games instead of movies, etc.). And will the adults in the household ensure that each overnight guest gets the privacy he or she wants/needs?
The world is so different than it was 50 years ago; children are maturing earlier, technology pervades the home and there’s been a general loosening of morals and standards in society. Things like pornography and abuse (physical, sexual, emotional, drugs, alcohol) are ever-increasing.
You take on a lot of responsibility.
When the shoe is on the other foot and you’re the host family, there are a lot of bases to cover. Allergies, food sensitivity, homesickness, special needs and medications and all the other stuff that comes with having a group of children from different families with different values/opinions all staying at your house overnight. Some parents are more than willing to tackle the challenge, but I’d rather pass on all that stress.
In my opinion, sleepovers are highly overrated. They are not a rite of passage. They are not necessary for growing up. They aren’t a required experience in a happy childhood. They are not a convenient way to get one (or more) of your children out of the house so you can have a break.
I’m no party pooper. Children can have fun in millions of ways! (mine do!) And it’s ok to stay up late sometimes. But I’ll pass on the sleepover. The only exception we’ve made is for family, like cousins. They only come a few times a year, and the children are very close and there’s complete trust there. It’s a chance for them to maximize time together during that brief visit.
What are your thoughts on sleepovers? Love them, or hate them? Share with me the good, the bad and the ugly.