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My daughter first started begging for slumber parties years ago. Last year, when she turned nine, I finally gave in. Now as a veteran of several sleepovers, I have learned some valuable do’s and don’ts. As with so many aspects of parenting, being prepared is half the battle. Know what to expect and you may survive for the next one.

Your first preparation should be to meet with the slumber party hostess. Every child has ideas of how the perfect sleep over should be, and it is often radically different than what your average parent wants. Explain your position to your daughter, letting her know your limits on number of guests, length of event, and activities as well as food consumption. Once everyone has agreed on the overall plan, invitations can be extended and preparations made.

Be sure to allow for more food consumption than you ever thought possible for adolescent girls. I am convinced that children fast for days before coming to a slumber party at our house. You also need to be prepared for the occasional homesick child. A good rule of thumb is to let them call home and then go with whatever is decided by the child’s parent.

The greatest challenge of any slumber party is getting to the actual slumber. This is why it is good to plan an afternoon or evening activity that keeps them moving like skating or swimming and then later in the evening spreading out sleeping bags and turning the lights down for a movie. Have an agreed upon time that the movies and TV are off and everyone must be quiet. You can’t actually expect them to go to sleep then, but be firm enough that they will keep things down enough for you to actually sleep.

Keep the departure time early enough that they aren’t able to build up new momentum. Give them time for a leisurely breakfast and then send them on their way.