A sleepover is like a mini-vacation for a kid. If you’re the guest, you get a break from your annoying siblings and chores; if you are the host, you’re pretty much off the hook too from the daily family grind.
There’s lots of debate about the right age to start sleepovers, ultimately it depends on the comfort of the child and the parent. Just be prepared for a slightly tired kid the next day because staying up beyond the usual bedtime is half the fun.
In an effort to divert the late-night ghost stories of my youth that left me sleepless, my daughter Giovanna and I worked together to find some games to keep things wholesome and light for her latest gathering.
Giovanna just started high school and her birthday always falls on the first week that school starts. To celebrate, she invited a small group of close friends to come for a Friday night dinner, games, and those that could sleep over, to spend the night. Turning 14, she is at the age where I play a supporting role, she had the party planned out, probably a month ago. My big job was to buy food for a taco bar, that the girls would prepare, and post-party breakfast fixings. But the biggest job was to do was to make myself scarce! I just loved watching them take charge. She even had friends send their favorite songs in advance so she could make a playlist.
Since the weather was mild, the girls set up decorations, put chairs outside and brought out the portable speaker. After dinner, they split up into teams to play Charades. It was a hoot! Of course, you can fill a bowl with books, tv shows, and movies titles but we had a cool game of charade cards gifted from friends that was the perfect level. What I like about this game is that everyone is engaged and it takes some creative thinking to act out the words. It was highly entertaining and they had a blast. It helps that Giovanna and her friends are in the drama crowd.
Freeze Dance was next. Even teachers use it in classrooms to get the giggles out of young students. It was a good excuse for Giovanna to blast her playlist. Here’s how you play: everyone dances as the music plays. When the music stops, each dancer must freeze immediately and hold that position until the song plays again. If someone doesn’t freeze immediately, s/he does 10 jumping jacks during the start of the next round and then rejoins the dance.
After Freeze Dance and some selfies, I collected their cell phones (which caused much moaning and groaning) as we transitioned inside. This is VERY IMPORTANT so everyone is connecting IRL (in real life)! After cake, the girls prepared for bed and inflated some air mattresses to settle in for the night. I spotted a fun questionnaire on Pinterest and supplied some colored Lego pieces that they could pick from to get the conversational game going. This is a great substitute for Truth or Dare that can sometimes get out of hand. You can use marbles, M&Ms, or Skittles too. I may use this as an icebreaker for one of my next professional networking gatherings!
A sleepover is something like a rite-of-passage, navigating independence from your family. If the evening is at your home, it’s an opportunity for you and your child to create a fun night with their friends and also learn how to be a good host.
I checked in on the girls at midnight when things were winding down and requested lights out at 12.30pm. I don’t really know if they obliged but by 9am, they emerged bright eyed looking for their phones, recounting over bagels and OJ, highlights of their “mini-vacay” sleepover.