‘Can [so and so] come for a sleepover, please! Pretty pleeeeeeeeeeease!’
As my two boys get older, I’m beginning to hear this a lot.
And I get it. I get that they want to act all grown up and stay up late, turn their entire bedroom into an army den (using every single sheet, pillow and duvet that they can get their mitts on), stuff themselves stupid with popcorn, watch a movie and have midnight feasts with their mini mates. I get that a sleepover is way better than having someone over just for tea. I get that having your best friend to stay the night is (in my eldest’s words) ‘the coolest thing in the world, like, ever!’
But what I don’t get is why some mothers offer sleepover invitations out on a regular basis – without wincing. Because to me, having a sleepover is a parent’s worst nightmare. And here are just some of the reasons why:
YOU WILL WATCH YOUR HOME GET TRASHED
Imagine how your house looks after your children have worked their messy magic on it: think toys and tiny bits of Lego everywhere, telling trails of crisp packets and biscuit crumbs (following a sneaky larder raid), sofa-cushion towers, spilt squash all over the floor, magic sand all over the carpet, lumps of playdough in the loo and sticky handprints all over the walls. Then times this by ten…
YOU WILL HAVE MONSTERS FOR CHILDREN
Remember those saintly sprogs that looked adoringly into your eyes and squealed ‘You’re the best Mummy in the world!’ at the first mention of a sleepover? Well, those angels will turn into monstrous beasts. They will tear around the house – often naked or with pants on their head. They won’t listen to a word you say and will block out any sentence starting with ‘Don’t’. They will think they’re being seriously cool; you, on the other hand, will not.
YOU WILL HAVE TO COPE WITH FALL-OUTS
This sometimes leads to the dreaded ‘I want to go home!’ from your mini guest. On the other hand, your child might stomp off in a huff and refuse to play with his friend. Either way it’s awkward.
YOU WILL HAVE TO BITE YOUR TONGUE
So and so doesn’t like sausages (that’s a shame because there’s nothing else) or ketchup (when you’ve just squirted it all over the plate). Oh, and so and so never drinks water, just squash. And it has to be orange not horrid blackcurrant…
YOU WILL HAVE TO DEAL WITH YOUR LEFT-OUT YOUNGEST
If there’s a younger sibling, they inevitably get left out. Cue littlest getting upset because nobody wants to play with him. Cue doors being slammed in his face when he attempts to enter The Sleepover Room (which has a hand-written ‘No boys under 6!’ sign at the entrance). Cue him being wrestled with and then dumped in some corner of the house, sobbing. Cue hot-faced tantrums when he retaliates and gets a door slammed in his face, again. Cue me pouring a large glass of vino in the kitchen, again, just to get through the whole hideous experience.
YOU WILL HAVE A DREADFUL NIGHT’S SLEEP
Whether it’s constant giggling coming from the sleepover room, torchlight coming from the landing or a homesick child coming into your room at 3am, the chances of you getting a good night’s sleep are pretty slim.
YOU WILL HAVE NO FOOD (MAINLY OF THE SWEET VARIETY) LEFT
Everything in your cupboards containing sugar will vanish. It is only in the light of the next day, when finding all the empty wrappers hidden under pillows, that you realise just how much crap they have actually consumed – and why they behaved like boisterous beasts.
YOU WILL HAVE A HELLISH NEXT DAY
You’re tired, they’re tired and everyone is in one of those almighty grumps. And just when you think it’s all over, you get a text from so and so’s parents saying they’re running late but should arrive just after lunch (Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr).
YOU WILL NEVER LET YOUR CHILDREN HAVE A SLEEPOVER AGAIN…
…until they do that looking-into-your-eyes-adoringly thing.
(This post originally appeared on Squashed Snails, Pink Nails)
About the author: Fiona Pennell lives in the Cotswolds with her husband and their two boys, Jack, 6, and Otto, 4. A former magazine sub-editor, Fiona now spends her days being trampled on, going on slug hunts and dreaming of lie-ins. Check out her motherhood blog: http://squashedsnailspinknails.blogspot.co.uk or follow her parenting adventures on Twitter: @fiona_pennell