Barista Kids Poll: First Sleepover–What’s the Right Age?

BY  |  Thursday, May 31, 2012 2:00pm  |  COMMENTS (16)

When I was 11 years old, Kim Snelling and I played Truth or Dare during a sleepover. I remember three things about that night. First, I ate dog food. The wet kind. Second, Kim ran down our small street buck naked singing Tough Titties. (Do you know that song, or did we make it up?) Third, by 2 a.m., my mom came down the stairs and yelled, “Shut up and go to bed, or I’m getting out the fly swatter.”

We played Ouija Board after that. Quietly.

Now my 6-year-old twins are asking to have a sleepover with a neighbor friend. Sometimes the mom brings up the idea when we’re all at the pool. At those moments, I urgently have to pee or put on deodorant. When I return, I change the subject to 50 Shades of Gray or the weather.

I avoid the answer because it will be no. I say they can’t have sleepovers until they’re old enough to watch The Saw and not cry about it. But I’m in the minority. Every other mom I know has done or is doing sleepovers with their same-age kids. I’ve heard over nights are–get this–fun. Are they? Really?

What do you say? What’s the right age for your kid to spend the night with her friends?  (I’m not talking about Grandma here.) Take our poll on the next page. Tell us your sleepover rules in the comments. How well do you have to know the parents first? Do you worry about hormonal older siblings looking at your kid funny? Do you mind the part about not sleeping?

My main problem is that I believe in karma. When it comes to sleepovers, I’m very afraid I deserve what’s coming.

Take our poll…



  1. POSTED BY Annette Batson  |  May 31, 2012 @ 2:30 pm

    although it’s an uncomfortable question – no matter what age, I ask the parents if there are guns in the house. It also depends on the kid – mine never had an issue starting young, but a lot of parents had to come to our house for a late nite pickup..

  2. POSTED BY anne prince  |  May 31, 2012 @ 4:02 pm

    Annette – I used to ask the very same question! I didn’t care what they thought and while it wa their right to have them, it was my right to ask and if yes, not allow my child over. Fortunately, I never received any “yes, I have a gun in the house” answers. In regards to the age, I think we started at about 6ish and we also had our fair share of late nite pick ups for some kids. I think mine were always glad to get out of the house – LOL!

  3. POSTED BY Kristin  |  May 31, 2012 @ 4:11 pm

    That’s my question of choice as well – although since mine are still young, I haven’t had to ask more than once. And, considering some experiences I heard about while teaching, I think I’ll be asking: “Do you keep any weapons in your home?” Butterfly knives can be scary. People can call me Debbie Downer all they want. And they’d be correct.

  4. POSTED BY Holly Korus  |  May 31, 2012 @ 4:25 pm

    First grade was when it worked for us. No cell phones. If the parent needs to talk to their kid they can call me.

    Are people still reading 50 Shades? The book is such a silly snore. My inner goddess said thumbs down.

  5. POSTED BY Georgette Gilmore  |  May 31, 2012 @ 4:41 pm

    I haven’t allowed my 8-year-old to do them because of her Epi-pen and allergy. And because, unless I know both parents really, really well, I don’t feel comfortable leaving my child at someone’s house overnight.

    It might be because I didn’t like having sleepovers as a child. I hated the few I did do. I remember staying up all night wishing I could go home at one friend’s house who had a huge Jesus crucified on the cross glow in the dark night light. I was terrified looking at it.

  6. POSTED BY nycmontclair  |  May 31, 2012 @ 4:59 pm

    We are doing “sleep unders” for our 6-year-old son. He and his friend aren’t ready to sleep over yet (neither feel comfortable without their own parents) but love the idea of eating dinner together and playing in pajamas. At around 9pm we pick him up and put him to bed. They had fun, it’s not any more stressful then a regular play date and both kids get to sleep at a reasonable time.

  7. POSTED BY Georgette Gilmore  |  May 31, 2012 @ 5:14 pm

    That’s a great idea nycmontclair. I did that once last year when my daughter was invited to a sleepover birthday party. I picked her up at 9:30 pm and she felt like she got to experience a sleepover and I slept well that night.

  8. POSTED BY njgator  |  May 31, 2012 @ 5:24 pm

    We started doing them just before our son turned 5. We have a few friends that have just one kid like us, so sleepovers were really free babysitting for the parents that were actually fun for the kid.

  9. POSTED BY Kristin  |  May 31, 2012 @ 5:44 pm

    I love that idea, nycmontclair! In fact, that could work as babysitting for an early dinner as well.

    I have a few friends I’d leave the kids with, but I’d have to leave both. If one of them had a sleepover, the other would be lonely and it would be a miserable night.

  10. POSTED BY iforgotmypasswordagain  |  June 01, 2012 @ 6:45 am

    you’re a girl after my own heart…expanding the firearm question to include all weapons…good one! (Debbie Downer…meet Nervous Nellie.) I’m not big on sleepovers. We call the “sleep under” a “half sleepover” — with 11 pm pick up for bigger kids.

  11. POSTED BY ali9ia  |  June 01, 2012 @ 8:35 am

    My daughter had her first sleepover when she was just shy of 5, and it was great. But it was with a friend that she / we have known since she was 6 months old. Our families are very good friends, and we have babysat either others kids for years now. I wouldn’t allow my child to sleep over anywhere at any age if I did not know the parents well and my daughter was not very comfortable and familiar with the house.

  12. POSTED BY kay  |  June 01, 2012 @ 9:09 am

    I don’t remember the first one for my girl, but I remember the worst one – she was in 4th or 5th grade, and a classmate who was a ‘friend’ had a sleepover birthday party with a handful of girls. When I picked up my daughter the next day she told me the birthday girl had gotten up in the middle of the night and kicked my daughter in the head because she was ‘breathing too loud’. I think I actually died for a minute there. I had stressed repeatedly that she could call us *anytime* for any reason and we would come and get her, and she said she knew that… but I think at 9 or 10 years old, she was too young and embarrassed to actually call us. Horrible. Needless to say they weren’t ‘friends’ anymore and the birthday girl has gone on to have serious behavior problems…it still upsets me to think about it, all these years later. I guess the lesson is, know your kid, and know the host and his/her family.

  13. POSTED BY Lisa  |  June 01, 2012 @ 4:04 pm

    My daughters had their first ones at age 3 to 4 – with very close friends – we would take all the kids one night so they could go out and they would take ours another. My girls also had sleepovers with their cousins from about age two on (once they were potty trained) a night once or twice during the year. We have only had the sleepovers with three families all of which were very close friends – at grade 4, so far there has not been any sleepovers with other people yet – guess I better get my do you have a gun in the house question ready 😉

  14. POSTED BY dane  |  June 07, 2012 @ 7:04 am

    I remember during the Million Mom March, the heartbreaking story told by a mom who didn’t think to ask the gun question…and whose child was a gun-death victim when the host child found his father’s gun and aimed it at her son. I always asked after that.

  15. POSTED BY walleroo  |  June 07, 2012 @ 10:54 am

    Sleepovers were the bane of my existence when my kids were in middle school. The trouble was the next day it was we parents who paid the price in grumpy, sleep-deprived tots, and I really hated that. After a while, my answer was always reflexively “NO!” Then my wife would take the kid quietly aside and work something out.

  16. POSTED BY walleroo  |  June 07, 2012 @ 10:55 am

    I always asked about guns and sexual predators.

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