Are slumber parties safe? Are there other fun alternatives to sleepovers? Here’s why we avoid sleepovers and what we do instead!
Years ago, we made the decision to avoid sleepovers. We didn’t invite kids to our house for sleepovers, and we didn’t allow our own kids to attend traditional slumber parties.
As kids, my husband and I had sleepovers and went to sleepovers ourselves, and frankly, our experiences are one reason we chose a different path for our kids.
However, there are many other reasons we decided to ban sleepovers…
1 – Lack of supervision
Children are hopelessly foolish. They say and do foolish things, particularly when left to themselves. An entire night of little-to-no adult supervision is a recipe for disaster.
Anecdote: I once went to a slumber party where all the girls ended up in a knock-down-drag-out fight over something silly. Parents had to come get some of the girls in the middle of the night.
I don’t want to put my young children in a difficult position without mom and dad there to guide them through it.
2 – Opposite sex siblings
As girls and boys get older, some slumber parties are actually a ruse to be able to visit a brother or sister who lives in the same house. There is also the legitimate concern over potential sexual abuse by a member of the opposite sex in the household.
Remember, most sexual abuse comes from people you know, and is often simply a matter of opportunity. I do not wish to purposely offer opportunity.
3 – Peer-to-peer socialization without parameters
We have been brainwashed as a culture to believe peer-to-peer socialization is the best kind and children should be left alone to play, lest they be hindered by adult interference. While I am an advocate for friendships and free, unstructured play, all night play away from the watchful eyes and listening ears of a diligent parent is outside the parameters of what I deem “safe” play.
Young children need a safety net. They need easy access to you when they are faced with questions and concerns that naturally arise when they are around children from different homes and families. This safety net does not exist in a sleepover environment.
4 – There are other (better) ways to interact
Children don’t need sleepovers to be well-adjusted individuals. There are plenty of other ways to interact with peers and have fun!
This is where the alternatives we have chosen as a family come in because sleepovers aren’t the only way to make childhood memories.
What we do instead of slumber parties
We were first faced with the dilemma of what to do about sleepoevers when our oldest son was 10. Prior to that, we lived in a small town and socialized mainly with families that also did not do sleepovers for various reasons. It simply wasn’t an issue.
But when we moved to a bigger city, we found ourselves being asked quite often if our children could sleep over.
At the time, we knew we didn’t want to allow that, so we formulated our reasons why (as seen above) and then chose to create some alternative ideas so we weren’t always saying no to every request.
Note: If we had seen dangerous behaviors from our children’s friends, we would not have allowed even the following sleepover alternatives.
Slumber Party Alternatives
We are night owls, so this idea was born out of that natural tendency. We allow our children at a certain age and maturity level to attend a sleepover (as long as we are comfortable with the parental involvement and siblings in the household), BUT they only stay until midnight.
Sometimes my husband or I stay with them as well and chat with the parents. It allows them the fun without the unsupervised middle-of-the-night mess.
With certain families, we will plan a family sleepover, and we often host families in our home overnight. We may or may not allow friends of the same sex to sleep in the same room. That part is sheer gut-instinct – ALWAYS LISTEN TO YOUR GUT! If we allow it, we typically require them to be in open areas – like the living room – rather than the bedrooms. This is one reason we own several sleeper sofas.
We have also gone camping with other families which allows for lots of great fun and late nights around the campfire, after which everyone retreats to their own family tents.
Plain old parties
Honestly, there is nothing wrong with a good ole daytime party. We will often have parties based on a theme like our Fall Movie-themed Parties or like the Tutus & Tea Party we had when my oldest daughter was 9. They are tons of fun and don’t require the stress of a sleepover.
Once you set the precedent that you do not do sleepovers, real friends are often willing to accommodate, and may even decide they also don’t like the hassle and problems sleepovers can often cause.
There will, of course, be people who will not understand and may even try to bully you into changing your mind, but as I said earlier – go with your gut…and your convictions. If you don’t feel comfortable letting your kids participate in sleepovers, stand firm by your decision and make the best of the backlash. It will not be a decision you regret!