My kids love sleepovers. Who wouldn’t love staying up a little later while being with friends, laughing, playing games, and snacking on treats? It’s great fun that creates lasting memories.
A lot of Christian parents think that nothing good can come from sleepovers. Perhaps you have memories of your own sleepovers growing up, when party games after the parents went to bed turned to “Truth or Dare” or gossip sessions. Chances are, however, your child will be invited to a sleepover at some point before his or her teens years, and you’ll need to make a decision about where you stand on the issue.
We are fortunate in that, at our home in South Africa, we work with and live closely to families with kids similar in age to ours, and we know their parents fairly well. The result? There’s almost always a sleepover at someone’s house every weekend. I also try to be the one who hosts the sleepovers, when I know I can control the environment and help make the sleepover fun for all.
While older kids can entertain themselves, I’ve learned that simple planning on my part can help create a fun atmosphere and prevent me from losing my head.
How to be Prepared for Kids Sleepovers
- Have great snacks on hand. Kids seem to be hungry all the time. Since sleepovers usually involve staying up late, I’ve learned to be prepared with kid-friendly snacks. Maybe it’s as simple as bowls of popcorn and glasses of lemonade or as fun as homemade cream sodas (if you’re brave enough to give sugar to a group of kids after hours). The point is to think ahead and be prepared with a snack that kids will like.
- Pick a couple of activities. Take a few minutes to teach a new game for the kids to play, or rent a movie appropriate for everyone.
- Make a special breakfast. I love a good homemade breakfast. A favorite one among my kids and their friends is homemade biscuits topped with apple butter with a side of fried eggs and freshly squeezed orange juice. Simple but yet more special than a bowl of cereal.
- Keep mama sane. You could say that I’m a bit of a clean freak, and seeing the aftermath the morning following a sleepover gets my heart rate going. The solution to keeping mama sane has been putting on an upbeat after-breakfast song and having the kids help clean up blankets and dirty dishes. It could sound like a sleepover downer but my kids know that helping clean up means they will receive my blessing for future sleepovers.
I used to worry about my kids having sleepovers at houses where the parents didn’t share the exact same values as our family (particularly around discipling and disciplining). However, I’ve learned that as they cultivate those values at home, they will carry them with them wherever they go. Even though our kids are still growing in maturity, they can still be examples to one another and challenge each other to know and follow God.
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17
One thing you can do at sleepovers is expose your kids’ friends to great Christian literature. Teens and tweens will turn up their noses at anything called “reading time” at a sleepover, but you can leave out books for them to discover like Jenna Lucado Bishop’s From Blah to Awe, Redefining Beautiful, or You Were Made to Make a Difference. These books deliver a great message of how God wants to use young people today, without waiting for them to be older, stronger, richer, or even more “together.” Jenna tells stories for young people of what a radical, living relationship with God looks like.
You never know who you might be able to reach for Christ just by starting a sleepover lending library and inviting your kids’ friends to borrow books. Sometimes church services and Bible reading don’t seem that exciting… but these books show them that following God might be the most exciting thing they will ever do!
I’m embracing as a challenge to myself to be that living example of Christ to those kids that come to my home. My prayer is that joy, peace, love, and ultimately Jesus would be felt after walking through my doors.
What things do you consider as a Christian parent when (and if) you decide to accept invitations to kids sleepovers? Do you prefer hosting kids sleepovers at your home? Leave your comments below – we’d love to hear from you on these issues!