Why I hate sleepovers: parent confession

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Kate Burnett

OK so I’m prepared to sound like a mean mum. I’m prepared to get shot down in flames on social media for admitting this but here’s the thing. I hate sleepovers. I really, really hate them.

If I was ever invited on Room 101 they’d be my top choice of things to banish. And if I never had to go through a sleepover again then I’d die a happy woman. And here’s why…

When your child is invited to a sleepover

In rom-coms sleepovers are always such upbeat scenes. There’s a cheery and uplifting pop track playing as a group of tweens jump on beds in cute pyjamas and give each other makeovers.

No film ever cuts to the next day when your child returns from a sleepless and Tangfastic fuelled night and is utterly VILE the next day. Their lack of sleep and downright grumpiness fills the entire house.

They stomp and growl and lose their rag over every tiny thing that doesn’t go their way – like you breathing wrongly. They swear last night’s sleepover was the best night ever. But the rest of the family pays for it big time. They bear the brunt of your child’s hideous mood swings and general foul behaviour brought on by a night of next to no slumber.

When you send your child off to sleepover then you are basically writing the next day off for the entire family. Your child will be in such a bad mood that you will all want to climb under a rock and only venture out again when they have caught up with their sleep.

When you host a sleepover

Don’t get me wrong. I really like my child’s friends. They’re a fab bunch of gorgeous people. I love having them over and having the house full of giggles and laughter. They’re welcome over any time. It’s just that I’d really like them to go home and sleep in their own beds.

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Come 9pm I’m done

On a usual day when it gets to 9pm I’m done with the whole motherhood thing.

I’ve given the day my all. Once the kids are safely tucked up in bed then I love to flop in front of some TV drama in a onesie.

Or to wallow in the peace and quiet of the house, and shrug off the responsibility of parenthood. So when I have to keep up the active mum thing after hours on a sleepover, I get more than a little grumpy. Another reason why I hate sleepovers.

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The noise!

The usual rules that apply to playdates seem to be abandoned when it comes to sleepovers.

The giggles and the gossip reach unprecedented noise levels. You worry that your neighbours might phone to report anti-social noise levels in the neighbourhood.

As the clock ticks on the cacophony of a room full of shrieking tweenagers begins to grate on your nerves.

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Why do they call them sleepovers?

Such a stupid stupid name, as nobody ever sleeps. And that includes you. They should rename them wakeovers so at least everyone knows what they are signing up to.

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Who owns four spare duvets?

Sleepovers seem to involve a whole gaggle of children. You have to find enough space and comfortable things for everyone to sleep on and in. But who on earth has enough spare bedding to put everyone up?

You drag the mouldy sleeping bags from the loft and use cushions as pillows. You bung all the sofa cushions on the floor with every camping lilo to make enough mattresses for everyone. The whole thing takes hours and makes you twitch.

You’ve seen beautiful hacks on Pinterest where you sew four pillows together to make easy sleepover mattresses. Who on earth owns 25 spare pillows and has enough time to whip up all the spare beds? Not me, that’s for sure.

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Each guest demands a different bedtime vibe

One mum told you that Evie needs a night light on or she gets scared of the dark.

Another mentioned that Jenny needs the room to be completely dark or she can’t get to sleep.

Claire worries about monsters under the bed and Freya normally listens to music as she goes to sleep.

How on earth are you going to get the conditions right so everyone drifts off?

Answer. You’re not. But you’ll worry anyway that someone will be upset or scared as they try to get to sleep.

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You can’t shout at anyone

It’s a sleepover. It’s supposed to be fun. And when a sleepover guest acts like a complete brat and keeps shrieking at 2am, you really really want to go in to the room and yell at them.

But, you feel like you can’t. Your role is ‘sleepover fun-mum’ who discreetly fades into the background. You know your child would never forgive you if you waded in and told off that one child who was misbehaving. However much you REALLY want to.

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You go into worry overload

Having a whole bunch of other people’s children in your house for a whole night sends you into worry overdrive.

What if one of them gets upset and cries?

What if one of them gets hurt or has an accident?

What if Isla has an asthma attack?

What if your own child wimps out and wants to sleep in your own bed, and abandon her sleepover pals?

You can’t help running through all these worst case scenarios. You stay up all night fretting and being on full alert in case anyone needs you. All the worry reminds you why you hate sleepovers.

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There is no wine o’clock

When you’re hosting a sleepover you know you’ve got a long night ahead of you. You can hear the rising noise and shrieks, you can feel your stress levels escalating. Will anyone ever get to sleep?

But you can’t even unwind with a glass of wine because you are in loco parentis to a whole bunch of other people’s children. You need to be on call in case you have to drive anyone home in the middle of the night, in case they are ill or homesick.

Right now a large glass of Pinot would REALLY help you through this whole ordeal but you have to make do with a mug of cocoa.

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Forget about rocking about in your pyjamas

Let’s face it, no tween or teen really wants to see their friend’s parents in pyjamas. It’s just weird and unsettling.

So, when your child has friends for a sleepover you go to great lengths to avoid any jama-clad meetings. You feel pressured to get up at dawn and get dressed, in case any stray child meets you on the landing in a state of baggy dress.

If your partner sleeps in boxers then you have to persuade him to cover up too. The experience of bumping into a hairy semi-naked man may traumatise any poor child on a midnight trip to the loo.

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You’re even afraid to get out of bed for a wee

So great is your shame at the possible sighting of any sleepover guest of you in your nightwear that you daren’t get up to pee in the night in case you are seen.

You lie in bed with your bladder bursting, listening out for silence. You try to figure out if you can hot-foot it down the landing without being seen.

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You have to pretend breakfast is an Instagram worthy event

It’s just not enough to bung a family sized box or cornflakes and a bottle of milk on the table in the morning.

You have to plan and shop for the breakfast to end all breakfasts to appease your sleepover guests. Most importantly to make sure they don’t go gossiping to their mums that you only had stale toast on offer.

Such is the hosting pressure that you spend £58.79 at the supermarket buying in a variety of posh breakfast goods. You flit around as a waitress seeing to your child’s pals every breakfast needs.

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You have to clear up all the mess the next day

All the sleep deprived pale faced guests have been picked up. You gingerly open the door of the sleepover room and your heart sinks at the amount of mess that slaps you round the face.

There are at least two loads of bedding to wash, 3 billion bits of popcorn to hoover up, two sticky stains on the carpet to tackle and a cloying scent of B.O. covered up with One Direction perfume to fumigate. And you’re knackered after a night of next to no sleep and cleaning is the last thing you want to face.

The ONLY good thing about sleepovers

I hate sleepovers with a passion but there’s one small silver lining to hosting a sleepover. That’s the fact that the other mums will feel duty bound to have your own child over on a sleepover to reciprocate.

So, somewhere down the line you’ll get a night with one less child to worry about. Having said that, you know that they’ll return as a monster and make the next day a misery. And so that leads me to the undeniable conclusion that sleepovers should just be banned forever. We’d all be much happier if they were.

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