How to survive your child's first slumber party

Apr 27, 2012 at 2:00 p.m. ET

Sleepovers, slumber parties -- whatever you want to call them -- kids love them, and most parents dread them. If your child is planning her first slumber party, follow our survival tips to make it through the night.

Start small

If it's your child's first slumber party, you don't need invite a dozen friends. Keep the party to a reasonable number. Start with three invitees. If you are brave, you can work yourself up to 10 when your daughter is a tween or teen.

Invite kids you know

Do yourself a favor, and scout out the participants wisely. You can get some idea of how a child will behave at a sleepover by watching them on a playdate or other group activity. Don't invite children who you don't know... and it's a good idea to be acquainted with their parents, too. When the kids get dropped off, be sure to get contact info from each parent and ask about possible food allergies or health concerns.

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Plan it for Friday

Though you might be inclined to plan the slumber party for a Saturday, Friday night is actually a better choice. Kids will be more tired on Friday because they've spent the whole day at school. Plus, many parents have plans on Sunday for church and family activities -- so kids might have to get up early on Sunday morning.

Forget the rules

If your kids don't usually eat junk food or don't normally nosh outside of the kitchen, throw those rules out the window. For a sleepover, not-so-healthy snacks are the norm and your house is going to get a little trashed. Expect chips to be smashed into your carpet and a few other spills here and there.

Don't sweat the small stuff

Speaking of spills, don't sweat the small stuff. Rent some movies, crank up the music, break out the snacks and sleeping bags and let them have a blast. They'll stay up too late, eat too much, be too loud and likely leave your house a mess -- but they'll also have a lot of fun.

The secret to successful slumber parties >>

Be clear about the rules

When you have other kids in your house for the night, they are your responsiblity. You don't need to be a party pooper, but you do need to lay down the ground rules with your child and their guests. Make sure they understand they cannot leave the house without your permission. You might also consider designating certain areas of the house as "off limits" -- like the rooms with white carpets or valuable breakable items.

Walk through often

You don't want to hover over the party the entire time, but you do need to keep an eye on things. Walk through the room often, bringing in more food, beverages, games and movies. Make sure everyone is present and accounted for, and there isn't any arguing or out-of-control mischief going on.

More on sleepovers

Sleepover safety guidelines
How to plan the perfect sleepover
Perfect party games for all ages