Mary Quigley of Rockville Centre, NY, will never forget the first time her 7-year-old daughter had a sleepover. She woke at 2 a.m. to find a small face hovering over her, saying, "Mrs. Quigley, my tummy hurts. Can you please rub it for me?"
While your child may be the one dying to have a slumber party, you're the host here. To plan a sleepover that's fun for them and easy on you:
• Don't invite a crowd. No more than five kids is plenty until you get a few of these under your belt.
• Talk to the other moms. You may think you know little Julia pretty well, but check in with her mom about food allergies or medication. The last thing you need is a 7-year-old who says, "Uh, I think I'm supposed to take a pill with dinner."
• Have fun with food. Set up a make-your-own-pizza or taco dinner to please picky eaters. Limit the madness by skipping caffeine and offering fruit along with chips.
• Keep them busy. Moms are of two minds on slumber-party activities: Make sure they're low-key, or use them to tire out the kids. Whether you decide to pop in a DVD or set them up stringing beaded necklaces, remember to have a backup plan in case they get bored quickly.
• Keep out—most of the time. The point is to giggle and stay up too late (remember?). So be the mom ("Bedtime, girls!"), then give them some privacy. But don't go too far, and stop by frequently to make sure they're okay—and haven't discovered an R-rated movie on late-night TV.
• Plan for the morning. Offer them a breakfast that's easy on you (bagels and cream cheese, not waffles), because you're going to be tired too. And give the other moms a pickup time: You don't need to turn into a babysitting service.