Frugal Family Fun: Family Sleepover Night (and Getting Them to Bed Without a Fight)

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By Robin

What child doesn’t get excited about sleepovers?   A couple of years ago we started a ritual of Family Sleepover Nights.  It is a time for us to connect in a more quiet way,  parent to child.  It is inexpensive, requires no planning or parenting energy.  

It is lovely in its simplicity and I believe it sets a foundation for close relationships now and as the children grow. I hope to continue these Family Sleepovers for years.  

I think it would be great as our kids get older to know that there is a predictable quiet time that they have a parent’s undivided attention and we’ve established a pattern of talking about what’s going on in their lives.  On sleepover nights, the kiddos excitement is palpable.

We've also adapted our little family ritual to change the worst bedtime night of the week (Sunday!) to the best.

At our house, the Family Sleepover looks like this: one grown-up child pair have their sleepover in one room and the other pair in another.  

Usually, my daughter and I take the master bedroom.   Ed and our son are in his room.  We all cuddle up in our respective beds, eat popcorn and watch a movie.

In our small family, we have a pair of adults and a pair of children, so the logistics are pretty easy.  

But, even if you have a larger family a Family Sleepover is an option. One of my friends has 5 children and she does something similar, where she has time with her teenage girls and her husband is with the boys. Or maybe the whole family could pile into one room for a night.

Our entertainment choices vary.  For my daughter and I it’s usually something with David Attenborough.   We prop the laptop on the bed and pull the old guy up on Netflix.  

We have a shared love of nature documentaries.  I often wonder at how remarkable her memory is for so many obscure animal facts (while I say, “oooh, that baby’s s so cute. What's that one called again?”.  She always knows and is quite tolerant of my faulty memory. She is also quite tolerant of all the mammal "piggy-backing" - if you get my drift.)  

Ed and our son are usually watching something on the portable DVD player.  Their tastes are a little more fantastical. Usually, it’s one of the Harry Potter or Star Wars flicks, with or without their accompanying Lego reenactments of key scenes.  

There is almost always some sneaking between the rooms for “spying” or “surprising".  Then at the usual bedtime, we switch everything off and talk in the dark and as we fall asleep.

The kids don’t know this, but Ed and I always get up and get to have a little more grown-up time.  

Sleepover Nights usually buy us more than the usual time together for some quiet conversation or vegging out to recorded Parks and Rec or 30 Rock.  (I can’t remember the last time we got to watch a show while it actually aired!)  Then, at our usual bedtime, we tiptoe back next to our respective sleeping child; they are none the wiser.

This month we are over the moon to have stumbled upon a great idea.  

As parents of young children, we have had our share of those witching hour sorts of bedtimes.  You know the one’s where a there’s tears, random stomach aches and minds flooded with worries for the next day.  

These are the nights that we usually can’t wait to get them into bed and they have the opposite agenda.   So often the worst of these nights is Sunday.  Is this true for your house? 

 After staying up a bit later on the weekend and having wide open fun at home, the Sunday night prospect of a week of school and early mornings is a bit anxiety provoking for kids (and for us sometimes.)

So these last three Sundays we’ve had our Family Sleepover Nights.  It has been wonderful.  The kids are eager to get into their pyjama’s early and fall asleep at a much more reasonable time.  

I am always looking for more ideas, so I am curious, what are your Family Rituals? Or, better yet, strategies for better bedtimes?

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