I’m now the veteran of two parties where extra kidlings spent the night not sleeping in my home. OK, I’m exaggerating. They did sleep. Some. I’m the one who barely slept. Taking care of my own children is scary enough. Throw more into the mix, and I go on high alert.
Here are a few lessons I learned from my kids’ first spend-the-night parties:
1. Make the cake ahead of time. Letting four kids “help” me in the kitchen was a disaster. One little girl ended up with cake batter running down her legs. I’m still finding brown splatters around the edges of the cabinets. Even better: Bite the expense bullet and take the kids out for pizza and ice cream. In other words, pay Marco’s staff to do the cooking and cleaning for you.
2. Send the nonpartying siblings elsewhere for the night. At my girl’s sleepover party, her brother wanted to keep up with the big kids, and when he couldn’t, he felt left out and became a total nuisance. My girl’s favorite adjective for him is “annoying,” and that night, I agreed whole-heartedly.
(At my son’s sleepover party, with three little boys running rampant through the house, my girl locked herself in her room. “Oh, the noise!” she exclaimed, slamming the door behind her.)
3. If a kid wants to go home because his heinie aches or he’s homesick, let him. Right away. At both parties, I had to call a parent to come pick up their child around 9:30 p.m. Both times, I invited the kids back for the next morning’s Wafflefest. No more drama, and nobody missed any fun. Who am I to argue with grumpy heinies?
4. Never, ever have fewer than two somewhat-sober adults around at all times. Or one adult, TV/DVD access and a 12-pack. After several hours of mess, chaos and nonstop noise during my girl’s party, I had to take a walk around the block. I somehow ended up at the neighborhood bar, Usual Suspects. Meanwhile, my husband soothed the savage beasts with, ironically, The Lion King.
5. Set the clocks forward. Even if it’s not yet daylight-savings time. At my girls’ party, I told the kids that they could stay up until 10 p.m. Although they were all looking dazed by about 8:30, they were determined to make it to that magical 10 o’clock. So I brought the girl’s digital clock downstairs, set it for 9:48, and said, “Look, it’s almost 10. Let’s settle down now.” They were asleep within 15 minutes. Mission accomplished.
6. Prepare yourself not to sleep. Or if you’re lucky enough to have a partner, decide the day before who gets to take the Lunesta. As I mentioned, I tend to be on high alert when I’m responsible for other people’s children. (Just imagine all the phone calls I’m going to get this week from parents asking if they can bring their kid to my house for a play date). Also, I don’t sleep well when non-family members are in my home for the night. OK, I just don’t sleep well period.
At both sleepover parties, I found myself listening for tears, whispering or the dreaded “I wet the bed” shriek. At my boy’s party, I was rewarded with the sound of small footsteps at 3:30 a.m. I bolted from my bed and headed off one of his friends, half-asleep and wandering too close to the top of the stairwell. I sent the kid to the potty, tucked him back into his sleeping bag, and spent the rest of the night wide-awake.
Did I mention that my girl is having her second sleepover party this weekend? I’m ready. Anyone want to meet me at Usual Suspects around 8?
— Anne Fitten Glenn is a freelance writer and photographer in Asheville. She blogs about a number of topics, including parenthood, at www.edgymama.com.