My daughter is entering the age of the sleepover. Nothing makes her happier than a night full of giggles galore! While I know my kids are safe in my house, I want to make sure they remain out of harms way when visiting a friends house. So being the digital savvy mom that I am I took to the internet to see what is typical etiquette for arranging/hosting sleep overs.
I found a great article on parenthood.com, by Lisa Kosan, titled How to Make Sure Your Kids Are Safe at Another Family’s Home. The article touched on all of my concerns and gave me great tips on things I can do to ensure my kids are safe outside of my home.
Some of the key points in the article are:
Gun Safety – Know if there is a gun in the home that your child is visiting. Is it in a locked cabinet?
Internet Safety – If the kids play on the computer, will the children have access to unsecured or age inappropriate websites.
Television Supervision – If the kids watch TV, make sure the other parent knows if you have shows that are off limits.
Swimming Pool Safety – If there is a swimming pool at the friends house – will swim play be supervised?
Then I really started to think about letting my kids sleep over at a friends house and came up with a few of my own guidelines….
Driving with Your Child in The Car – make sure you discuss transportation with the other parent and ask them to abide by your rules (seat belts, booster seats)
Be nosey! Take a peek around the house and look for smoke detectors. Is the house heated by kerosene/space heaters – ask what the procedure at night is regarding the heaters? Are there working locks on the doors?
Sleeping Arrangements – where will the children be sleeping? If you are not comfortable with backyard camping or co-ed sleepovers with siblings, make sure the other parent knows that.
Stranger Danger – Who will be in the friends house during the sleepover? Mother, Father, Brothers, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Neighbors, Babysitters?
Alcohol – is there alcohol in the house? If so is it out of reach of children or locked up?
The parenthood.com article also suggests having a code that your child can use when visiting another home. If an uncomfortable situation arises – risky behavior, violence, or drug and alcohol use, for example – your child can call home using a predetermined phrase, such as “I have a sore throat,” and you’ll pick him/her up, no questions asked.
If children are visiting your home overnight for the first time:
- Know if the child is currently on any medications and if so when was the last dose?
- Make sure you have the home & cell phone number as well as home address for the parents.
- Know if the child has any medical conditions or allergies (food, pets, bee stings, etc.). If the child requires an epi-pen or medication, make sure you know to administer it and keep it in your possession or in a safe place during the sleep over.
The parenthood.com article stated “Studies have found that the values, family rules and standards you teach your kids in their early years minimize the risks they’ll take when they’re teens – a time when your opportunities for meeting their friends and their friends’ parents greatly diminish.
Your kid may be annoyed by your intrusive or “butt-insky” behavior. But at some level – and they will never admit this to you – they appreciate the fact that you care.” And in my opinion it is your responsibility as a parent to be the “butt insky” and if you run into a parent that questions your safety questioning.. well, that may be a red flag.