Mom, Can I Sleep at Jack’s Tonight?
Ah, sleepovers…the epicenter, thus far, of peer pressure and questionable teenage behavior in my son’s life. As my kids have gotten older, I realize that I was unprepared for the transition from the little kid mega-event of a sleepover to the casual, “Mom, can I sleep at ____’s tonight.” This new, impromptu “crashing at someone’s house” version of sleepovers can bring along with it a series of puzzling (and maybe even disturbing) scenarios that will make you ask—both of your kid and of the host parents—“Really???” Read more >
Here’s are some scenarios that I know to have definitely happened during one of these impromptu events:
- Sleeping in your clothes on the floor, an ottoman, or someone’s legs
- Contests to see who can stay up the latest (5:30 a.m. is the record)
- Watching R-rated movies
- Five boys eating six pounds of gummy bears
- Lots and lots of energy drinks (Monster, Red Bull, Mountain Dew???!!!)
- Sneaking out to run around outside in the middle of the night
- Walking (with the host-parents’ permission—not mine) to a nearby strip mall after curfew without adult supervision
- A dad, who when I called the next morning to say I was coming to pick up my son, didn’t even know he was there
My advice to you on how to avoid some of the mistakes I’ve made falls into three simple practices:
1. Set guidelines and send kids home if they don’t follow them. Make rules that are comfortable for you and check them out with your kids, your kids’ friends, and the other parents involved. One very important guideline is whether or not the sleepover will be co-ed, both boys and girls (which, by the way, is a growing trend!)
At what age are co-ed sleepovers appropriate? Find out what other ParentFurther readers are saying >
2. If possible, host at your house more often than letting your kids go somewhere else. Did you know January is National Mentoring Month? Sleepovers can be exhausting for parents who are highly involved, but they also give you a great chance to positively influence your kids’ friends. Have a snack or a meal together; ask them about themselves and what’s going on in their lives; make your behavior expectations clear in kind, direct ways.
3. When your child goes somewhere else for a night, be the “dork parent” who asks a ton of questions and introduces yourself to the other parents. Always. Just go to the door. Even if your kid begs you not to. It’s so worth it to get a feel for the home, the adults present, and the other kids. Also, get an adult’s phone number. I’ve tried relying only on my son’s cell phone, but have realized that it’s best to have an adult’s number in case my son can’t (or won’t) answer his phone. Finally, ask about planned activities and require your kid to tell you if they go anywhere other than where they’ve said they’ll be.
Fortunately for me, my kids talk a lot. I only know all of the things I mentioned above because my son experienced them, felt in each case like something wasn’t quite right, and told me so. Unfortunately, I didn’t find out until after the fact.
His younger sister is going to be bummed when she figures out how savvy I’ve gotten.