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17Aug 13

Sleepover success: how to avoid tears and tantrums

Sleepovers are a good way for children to deepen friendships away from school or other adult-organised environments. I have always encouraged Tom and Mary to have their friends to stay over at weekends or in the long summer holidays.

These parties liven up the week when the kids are home from school, and other mums thank me for giving them the night off! I try to instill a sense of responsibility in my children, and it is their duty to plan the entertainment. They feel a sense of pride when they see their friends having a good time.

Sleepover success: How to avoid tears and tantrums

Sleepover success: How to avoid tears and tantrums

But how do you avoid tears and tantrums during a sleepover at your house? Here are some of my tips!


Sometimes a spontaneous sleepover happens at my house at the weekend if one of Tom or Mary’s friends has been around all day Saturday and we end up making popcorn and watching a DVD until late. A quick call to the friend’s parents beforehand, make sure the spare bed is made up, and hey presto – all organised!

On these occasions, I have found that the potential for arguments and sulking is limited. But if you are having more than one child to stay from Friday to Sunday or for a few days during vacation time, then I think good planning is essential to ensure everyone has a fun time – including mum! And if the weather is bad, I can give you some good ideas for Games for Kids on a Rainy Day.

When planning activities for your children’s guests, it’s also important to keep in mind their parents’ standards. Letting the kids stay up later than normal is one thing and is part of the staying over experience. However, the choice of movies they want to watch or video games they want to play can sometimes present a problem. I recommend to err on the side of caution and say “NO” if you have any doubts!


  • Keep the guest list small and even in number, keeping it to three or four friends.
  • Set aside a specific area of the house. Tom and his friends usually take over the garden and put up a tent, while Mary and her guests base themselves in the downstairs “family room”.
  • Avoid organising too many activities. I like to ensure there is some “quiet” time when the kids can read a book or talk about their favourite film.
  • Make sure all the children have their meals together, even if it’s just sandwiches or pizza. I think this is a good way of fostering a nice extended family feeling at specific times.
  • Be sure to set some ground rules about what is acceptable behaviour at the start, which might mean no internet.

What are your tips for a successful sleepover?

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