Feb 29, 201212:05 PMReal Moms of NJ

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Sleepovers at Seven?

Young girls at a sleepover partyWhen my daughter was 6, she asked about the best birthday party I ever attended. I recounted in detail my first sleepover. I was 9. We played Twister. We watched a movie. We went to McDonald's for hotcakes the next morning.

“That’s what I’m doing for my birthday,” Molly said.

I didn’t argue. It was July. Her birthday’s in February. She’d change her mind. Right?

Wrong. 

My husband and I were torn. Seven seemed young for a sleepover, but . . . We were tired of the Chuck E. Cheese-type party. The chaos. The 30 kids playing different games instead of interacting. That big mouse. And, oy—the expense.

We decided to go for it.

Here’s how it went:

The Invitations

We set the limit at five girls. I followed up paper invitations with an email to parents offering to host a play date before the party so their children would feel comfortable at my house and explaining that kids not used to sleeping away from home could come for the evening part and not sleep over. That last part is key!

All five responded “yes”—two for the evening only and three for the whole shebang. 

The Preparations

Kids this age need structure, so we prepared activities beforehand: Mad Libs, a movie, and wooden jewelry boxes to decorate. I also bought glow-in-the-dark bracelets and made a list of games that didn’t need to be bought.

D-Day

Here’s the great thing about a sleepover at this age: the kids are excited the second they walk through the door. 

It was amazing how many of them had never played the games that were staples when we were kids: musical chairs, Twister, etc. They were a hit, as were the jewelry boxes (note: glitter glue goes fast!). The biggest hit was when the girls donned glow-in-the-dark bracelets and necklaces, shut the lights, and danced to Kidz Bop. I gave each guest a chance to take photos with my camera. At first, all they’d see on the screen was a bunch of glowing rings; after the flash, the scene would be revealed, and they’d laugh hysterically.

The surprise hit? Mad Libs (with many incarnations of the word “poop”).

I put on the movie around 8:00, and then it was lights out. They fell asleep around 11:00. I was prepared to wake up at 3 am to take a screaming kid home, but guess what? The only “kid” who didn’t sleep through the night was me.

You know how every TV show promises to be the one “everyone’s talking about” and then it isn’t? This wasn’t like that. The girls talked about the party for weeks. And I still remember my first sleepover almost 30 years later.


More Sleepover Party Tips

  • Explain to your daughter that some kids might not be allowed to sleep over—and that just one or two staying the night makes it a sleepover. 
  • Give younger siblings their own sleepover—at Grandma’s.
  • Sleep near the partiers but not necessarily in the same room. Make sure they know where you’ll be and that they can come to you any time.
  • Go somewhere cheap, quick, and kid-friendly (read: McDonald's) for breakfast. (Bonus tip: If you go to McDonald’s, ask for the Happy Meal toy for each guest—they’ll usually comply).
  • Try this with boys at your own risk!

At what age did your child have her first sleepover party? How did it go? Please share your experience by commenting below!

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There's nothing artificial in these blog posts from New Jersey's hardest-working women. Where to go, what to do, and how to do it—with kids—are all part of the mix.

Meet Our Bloggers!

Editor Judy Grover is the mom of two rambunctious boys, who, she admits, completely run the household. Like this "jokey" line admitting her feelings of parental inadequacy, her posts focus on the joys and challenges -- in the rawest, "real mom" way -- of raising her toddlers into considerate, thoughtful men in the face of demands from both career and peers.

Essex County Real Mom Anna Sandler lives happily ever after with her Jersey-raised husband and three NYC-born children in the land of jug handles and disco fries. She loves baking and crafting with her kids, even if everything they make doesn't turns out Pinterest-perfect. Anna has never met a holiday she doesn't want to celebrate, and enjoys sharing ideas for everyday fun (indoor beach party, anyone?), as well as how to commemorate bigger moments from birthdays to first days of school.

Mercer County Real Mom Lauren Kim is a writer and the editor of mom blog and home décor website, MomHomeGuide.com. When she is not spending time with her children and spouse, she loves crafting and tackling various DIY projects around the house. To see more of Lauren Kim’s favorite pins, visit her Mom Home Guide Pinterest Board. Follow her on Facebook for more on her favorite craft and home décor finds.

Middlesex County Real Mom Renée Sagiv Riebling is a mom of two who never irons (Quick! Grab it out of the dryer while it's still hot instead!) or cooks anything that requires dicing, but she does love sweet sticky faces and family outings (check out her Jersey Jaunts column for ideas). She understands all too well about the minutiae of mothering, and her blog posts focus on parenting pointers--from experts or experience.

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