How to Manage a Sleepover for “Big Kids” :: Keep it Simple

sleepoverThe Big Kid Sleepover

My son recently turned 11. Birthday parties aren’t as cool as they used to be, though video games are very “in.” Sleepovers are the best thing ever, but how many boys can I have sleep at my house without losing my mind? Last year we tried a party / sleepover combo, and it was completely exhausting and lasted almost 24 hours. I vowed we wouldn’t do that again. This year, we decided to keep things fairly simple from a party perspective.

Video Games

Fortnite is the big thing right now, and with supervision, can be a fun way for the kids to play with each other from a distance and even in-person. We invited four kids to spend the night with their video game systems. After lining them up on some folding tables, the boys played together, laughing and strategizing for hours. They even got to play with some of their school friends that weren’t attending the sleepover.

Food & Treats

Food was kept simple. I made grilled cheese sandwiches for each of them for dinner the first night. A few hours later, I set out some Tostitos, sugar cookies, and then cupcakes. In the morning I got up before them, put donuts, juice and water on the dining room table and went back to bed. I kept a paper bag on the table for trash so they weren’t running back and forth to the garbage can and what do you know? They even cleaned up after themselves.

Freedom with Boundaries

We didn’t have balloons or expensive favors. We didn’t do gift bags or rent a bounce house or take everyone out to a trampoline park. This time, he was happy spending a few hours playing with his buddies and claimed it was the best day ever. I still have a few younger children that love the big, themed parties, and, while I am grateful, I’m also finding peace with the “Big Kid” party. What I’ve learned about managing a “Bid Kid” sleepover is that they just really want to spend time together doing something they think is fun. Set some ground rules about volume level (especially since the little kids go to bed a whole lot earlier) and give them freedom to be themselves within the safety and value boundaries you’ve set.

Fly on the Wall

My husband and I were talking about what we loved about the sleepover this year, and the thing we enjoyed the most was watching the boys interact. Seeing how they behave with each other and how they respond to various scenarios. Listening to who the decision makers are and who the influencers are. Best of all, we came to the conclusion that we are extremely proud of who he chooses to be in his circle.


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