I sometimes write for the great parents’ website Ready for Ten and a recent post on sleepovers got some comments suggesting a lot of people feel under pressure to have children round for the night when they aren’t really that keen on the idea. It struck me that even the simple idea of the sleepover has become hugely commercialised, with massive expectations of high-octane fun and games all round. Parents, already stressed out enough by ordinary, everyday life, are steering clear because it’s all become yet another complicated, expensive chore.
It’s true that in my article I was thinking of sleepover birthday parties, which do tend to become larger productions, involving a feast of e-numbers and a lot of jumping about afterwards as a consequence. But a sleepover can be the most modest, low-key event ever, instead of something parents have to gird their loins for and clearly dread the idea of.
Child Two had two of her friends to stay the night on Friday. It’s true, she is, at 13, the veteran of many a sleepover, and so are her friends. Friday night was no big deal. The worst bit of it was the car journey, with three teens shrieking with laughter in the back. Eventually, Child One turned to them and said the words I’d been supressing for twenty minutes: ‘Will you please just all shut up, you’re giving me a headache!’
We ate fish and chips, the girls giggled and shrieked a lot more, and watched Comic Relief on telly for hours. The only difficult moment was when the Wanted came on and the shrieking reached a decibel level that had the cat reaching for ear muffs and a stiff gin.
I did try and stay up and make them all go to bed at a sensible hour, but the endless films of suffering babies and the banality of the hosts did for me and I left them to it. They swore they were in bed by 11, and I’m willing to believe them. So there we are – minimal effort. Obviously, you can’t really leave younger kids to put themselves to bed, but I do thoroughly recommend staying as low key as possible. You can get away with it!