You’re sending your kid off for her first sleepover—it’s exciting and nerve-wracking for both of you. On the one hand, you essentially have free overnight childcare. You get your home to yourself. Maybe you and your partner can have that date night you’ve been trying to have for months. On the other hand, you’re giving someone else jurisdiction over your child for the night, and that’s a bit scary. Your kid has apprehensions, too. You can make everyone feel more at ease if you have a talk with the parent whose house your child will be sleeping at, to go over some safety matters.
Who lives in the home?
It won’t just be your child, his friends, and the parents at the house. There may be older children or teens living there. There could be in-laws or cousins living there temporarily. Make sure you know everyone who will be there. Meet each individual who resides there before sending your kid over. You should feel completely safe with your child being around each person under that roof—not just his friend.
Get to know the other children
You should know the other children—your kid’s friends—well, too. Host an afternoon playdate with the kids and parents before a sleepover occurs. You may want to have several of these before an overnight stay. Your child will feel more comfortable in the home of an adult that he knows well and you’ll feel more at ease once you’ve gotten to know your kid’s friend, and his parents.
Which movies are they showing?
You likely have rules about what sort of programming your kids can watch. Discuss these with the other parent. The other parents are probably happy to talk about it and decide on a movie that everyone’s comfortable with.
Is there a swimming pool?
Swimming pools can be a lot of fun for kids, but they can also be safety hazards. Ask questions about the pool like, is it fenced in? Does that fence lock? How easy is it for kids to access the pool?
Are there weapons in the house?
It may seem a bit odd to ask—perhaps because you either live in an area where nobody has weapons or you live in an area where everybody has weapons—but it’s important to discuss. If this house does have weapons, make sure they’re stored far from where any children can reach them, separate from the ammunition, and properly locked up.
Are there any pets?
If there are pets in the house, this is something you should know about. Should your child have allergies to pets then this may not be a suitable place for a sleepover. But, if he only has mild allergies, and the parents assure you that the pets only have access to one part of the house that the children will not be in, it might be okay. It’s just important to discuss these matters.
What sort of security does the house have?
When children become afraid during a sleepover, they sometimes try to walk out the front door and find their way home. This could naturally be rather dangerous. Make sure the house has security systems that will prevent this, like alarms that sound if the front door is open and automatic locks.
Make sure your child knows he can call
Telling your child he is free to call you at any time will give him the peace of mind he needs to enjoy the sleepover.
Monitor your child’s behavior
If your child is going through a phase of acting up, then this is likely not a good time for a sleepover. When he is nervous and in a new environment, his bad behavior will flare up more. So just make sure your child is ready for this event.
Letting your child go to sleepovers can be an important part of growing his independence. But you are entitled to speaking to the other parents about important safety issues first.