Tween Sleepovers: How Often?

Updated on January 17, 2013
C.. asks from Columbia, MO
24 answers

So I just laid down a rule without thinking about it.... because it's the rule every mom of tweens I know has. Which, to be honest, is like 2 other moms with tweens..... Uggh I hate when I do that. But now I've talked myself around in a circle.

My daughter is 12 and in 7th grade. For the most part she is a great kid and she just made the Dean's A list (3.5 gpa), which is a new thing because in the 6th grade here there aren't really 'grades', per say. She isn't too involved in activities, which I worry about and she likes One Direction far too much which is, I guess, a skosh better than Lady Gaga or eminem. So, not too many worries, other than the normal ones.

She spends a fair bit of time in her room. We do things together and she has responsibilities around the house which she does, most of the time, without me even asking once we developed "the list". She, my husband and I eat dinner together every night and typically there is one TV show that we watch most nights. Other than that.... in her room... reading, texting, homework, listening to aforementioned English Boy Band and dreaming, I believe, of the wedding she will plan to this Niall character and what they will name their children. I remember fondly, of course, when she was 3 and followed me around constantly begging for my attention and I wished she were a tad more independent. Oh, those were the days.

On to my "rule".

This morning after one tween had departed our premises there was a request for another to come over. I said "I think we should plan on sleepovers being only ONE night of the weekend. Either Friday OR Saturday and I don't really care if you invite more than one girl, so long as you don't get too out of hand".

Ummmm. why, exactly?

Cuz the thing is.... last night they were IN THE LIVING ROOM. Where I could SEE her. I think at one point the COUCH wanted to tell her he'd missed her hanging out in the living room. They played the Wii and the friend talked to my husband about band, which she is in and we both were in when we were younger and she plays the trombone... which is what my husband plays. I had ZERO extra responsibilities and MUCH more fun. Well, Ok. I cooked an extra chicken breast for dinner.

Now that aforementioned tween friend has departed... aforementioned tween daughter has retreated to her room to dream about aforementioned wedding to aforementioned English boy and to post pictures on Instagram. I believe she will be there until dinner.

I can see a rule that she can only be GONE one night each weekend..... but why couldn't another friend come over tonight? I know MOST moms have that rule.... and I'm wondering why. In my mind, of course, it's because at THEIR house they are constantly doing fun things with their tween. Board games, and cookie baking and bike riding and a constant stream of love and familial interaction. But I don't actually think that's true.

So - what are the rules and why?

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answers from Boise on

Loved this post!

I never really had rules. I just said yes or no based on things we might have planned. If nothing was planned the friends were always welcome. I tend to have an open door policy because it's my way of knowing what is going on in my kids life, and the lives of their friends.

Did that mean yes every available day? No, someday's I just didn't want to deal with it, they lived and there was always next weekend.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

We don't even do sleepovers, but I think having a friend over one night a week is reasonable (not to sleep over, but just to play/visit/have dinner), AS LONG AS the other 6 nights of the week are spent trying to focus on time together as a family. I'm not saying every minute from the time she gets home from school until bedtime needs to spent with fun family activities. (A young girl her age needs alone time and privacy, as well. Also, it would be ideal if there were other girls her age in the neighborhood she could ride bikes with or play at the park or whatever after school for a little while, although I know neighborhood kids running around playing together outside is becoming a lost art.) But it wouldn't be unreasonable to spend 30-60 minutes (besides dinner) doing something together with her each night. Taking a walk, playing a game, working on a craft or sewing project as mother/daughter, having her help prepare dinner with you, reading a chapter book every night as a family, going on a family bike ride, star gazing, etc. Like I said, we don't do sleepovers, but if we did do them, I would consider them a once in a while treat - like once every 3 months, AT MOST.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

We don't really have a set rule. We just address it as it comes up. I don't generally allow multiple sleepovers in one weekend just because I want my kids to get a proper amount of sleep to be refreshed for the school week and their activities. Also my kids AND all their friends are very active in sports so sleepovers are dependent upon their sports schedules. All of these kids take their sports very seriously (most are higher level competitive teams, not rec) so they know part of being an athlete is proper sleep.

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answers from Jacksonville on

Well, for me, it would be because it is rather indulgent. And I try not to overspoil my kids. My kids are not out playing board games and telling their innermost secrets to me when they don't have friends around. They do their own thing.
Sometimes we watch movies as a family (last night we did), we eat as a family, we go out to dinner as a family or whatever.
But one night a week is enough entertaining for me.

I happen to believe that our kids are not the center of the universe and that my life doesn't revolve around my kids. I try to make sure they understand that, too. My husband and I are the center of our family. The kids are peripheral to that married relationship. So we choose to do things as a family, not make the family revolve around the kids as the center, but the kids revolve around the family instead. If that makes any sense....

Those are some of my reasons.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

I only let them have friends sleep over one night on the weekend just because I like to have one night where I can just relax. I can take off my bra and drink too much wine if I want. Also, I'm not comfortable having sex with my husband when there are extra kids in the house, who may or may not be sleeping! If my kids want to have a friend sleep over here on Friday, then they sleep over at their friends on Saturday, that is fine. I just want one night on the weekend without extra kids.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Biloxi on

I never gave it too much thought. My son, at that age, constantly had other boys over for the night. Some boys stayed two or three days in the summer/school holidays.

We still have sleep overs at 16 and he recently just spent 2 nights at a friends house.

i love it when other boys are over. My child leaves his room, we all do goofy stuff together. Heck, one of his friends even volunteers to go to the grocery with me.

You do what your family is comfortable with. The house I grew up in was the house where everyone hung out - for days on end. My father used to joke that he lost track of which teens were visiting and which teens actually lived there.

I like being the house where they all hang out.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

My daughter is 13/8th grade and would have friends over constantly if I let her!
We have never had more than one sleepover on a weekend, and as a matter of fact it's never more than twice a month. So usually it works out to be every other Friday or Saturday night.
I find she just gets WAY too tired if it's more.
On the weekends I don't mind if she has friends over for the afternoon, or sometimes for dinner, like you said they are mostly playing games, messing up the kitchen and talking about One Direction lol, but not much during the week because she has school and gymnastics (MWF) so she is busy. I also don't mind if she goes to a friend's house, and sometimes they go skating, to the movies or out for ice cream, which I think is healthy and normal.
So my "rules" are:
No more than 2 sleepovers a month (though I'm more lenient during school breaks)
No get togethers M-Th other than the occasional exception to work on a school project for an hour or so
(Mostly) unlimited (day) time with friends on the weekends, our house or theirs
Does that help, make sense?

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answers from Washington DC on

Two sleepovers in any one weekend would be too many. In fact, one sleepover in two weeks would be too many for us, and for all the families I know, I think (my daughter is nearly 12). She and her friends very rarely do sleepovers unless it's for a birthday party. A few of her friends who have extremely close best pals, who often live very close in the same neighborhoods, do sleep over more often.

The most basic thing to tell yourself, and then her, is that when a friend sleeps over they are having fun and that's fine, but no matter how well they claim the slept, they are not getting enough sleep and the sleep they do get isn't going to be very restful. One night of that occasionally is great and a treat.

But two nights in a row is enough to get her body especially tired and off-kilter, and will affect the following week at school. Sunday night alone isn't really going to get her body and brain back on track. She will spend all Saturday kind of tired and draggy after a Friday sleepover; do you want her also tired and draggy all of Sunday too? That isn't wise and she is old enough to get that.

Also, if she's doing so well in school (congrats!) she needs weekend time for homework, I'm sure. And she needs to be fresh enough to do it.

I think the real issue here is not so much focusing on a sleepover rule; isn't your real issue that you're worried about her tendencies to stay in her room a lot and think about One Direction? You seemed very thrilled -- maybe a bit too much so -- just to lay eyes on her that one night when she had a friend over.

She might need more -- well, let's not say "play dates" as she's old for that term, but more time with friends just coming over to do stuff. Doesn't have to be a sleepover; can you interest her in some crafts that she likes? Tell her to invite a friend for a couple of hours on a weekend afternoon and you'll provide any and all craft stuff they want (set it up on the dining room table so you can see her and they don't disappear into her room forever). Heck, I'd let them decoupage boxes with pictures of One Direction if she wants; whatever is fun for her and the friend!

Tell her you'd like to take her and a friend to a movie they really want to see.

She likes Wii, right? Suggest that if she wants, she can have one or two or three kids over for a Wii tournament and she can pick the pizza and the dessert (then have her help you make the dessert - time in the kitchen is time spent together).

In other words, find ways to help her think outside the two boxes in her mind: The box where she's in her room and the box where "doing something with a friend" currently means only "having a sleepover." She may need some gentle suggestions from you because she only sees those two ways of doing anything just now. She may at first roll her eyes and think, "Doing a craft, how dumb" or "I don't know three other kids well enough to have a whole Wii tournament" but she will get past that. Don't make her feel you're trying to be her cruise director, throwing a ton of activities at her, but do make some offers without pushing.

She also might benefit from some extracurricular activity. She sounds very typical and maybe she needs down time to regroup (which is just fine, some kids need more alone time than others) and maybe she's not a "joiner." That's OK too. But if she found something that truly interested her, it gives her a new outlet for friendships and developing skills that are not related to schoolwork -- it can be good for kids to have a side to them that is not related to school or their school friends. You would need to do some research about what's available and you too will have to think outside the box to find things to offer her that aren't just the ubiquitous team sports.

Update us. I feel for you. Kids want to repeat what they know was fun, hence her asking for another sleepover. But the whole post makes me think there's the bigger issue of your just wanting to see more of her yourself and wanting her to get out and about a bit more, maybe. She sounds normal and nice....and I remember what it was like in seventh grade to have massive, obsessive crushes on pop stars!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I loved reading your post! I have an 11 year old 6th grader who does the EXACT same things! Funny, she's in her room right now doing whatever it is she likes to do in there! She would have sleepovers CONSTANTLY if I let her. I'm dropping her off today at 2:30pm for a sleepover (that parent must be crazy to want a bunch of kids there that long, but anyway....). I will never have more than one sleepover in a weekend. It's too much. I think most moms feel this way. If I had my way, it would be one sleepover a month! I miss my daughter. So funny to think about the times when they were so needy and now, this. And of course, this is the daughter who cried non-stop as a baby. I didn't put her down for 8 months. Now I tell her sometimes, "No friends for the next 24 hours! I need to just BE with you. I don't care what we're doing." She's usually pretty cool about it, and happy to hang out if I request it. But if it were up to her? She'd be out that front door!!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

My girls are 13 and 10. We don't encourage sleepovers. They just don't sleep. Maybe 1-2 hours. It's not worth it. My 13 year old wanted to have a few new friends sleep over last night and we said no. But we did allow her to invite 5-6 of her friends over for the evening to hang out, watch movies, etc. Worked out great. All the kids could come, boys and girls. And they all got picked up around 10:30, when we wanted to go to bed, and have our kids start quieting down for the evening.

I really think sleepovers should be a special treat for only the closest of friends. I've seen my kids do the sleepover thing with a new friend too soon, and sometimes it's too much togetherness too soon, and it fizzles. I would not ever let my kids have one both Friday and Saturday night. They've both kind of moved on from the sleepover craze, but I remember a time we had a rule they each could only have one per month at our house, and they both could not have a friend stay over the same night.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Ok, our daughter just graduated from College.. I have no idea how this has happened. It seems like just 2 weeks ago she was in middle school, her friends here flopped out on our couch.. talking, laughing, eating..

Guess, what my husband and I missed the most when our daughter went to college? Our daughter being home.. In our home.. Even if it was in her room alone, hearing her giggle. Coming out and reading an amazing passage to us.. Trying to act like she wasn't going to the kitchen to make a snack.. My husband telling her to bring him a snack too..

In college she was so far away, the only way we met her friends was through facebook..

Yes, this is all normal.. They are trying to find themselves. They are secure enough in their relationships with you and your husband, she is proud to have her friends over to YOUR house! Which is HUGE.. The girls that come over, visit with you and your husband.. again.. amazing and a VERY good sign.. You want this to continue. Our daughter had friends that we got to know so well, they spoke with us about things they were afraid to ask their parents.

Please, please.. try not to make a rule about everything at this age. Things change. Too quickly.. If she is as good of a child as you say, then reward her with some freedoms and some extras.. As long as she does not take advantage, is respectful and responsible.. what is wrong with even school week sleep overs for study time.. Especially in high School.

Our daughter was in AP everything.. so her late night study sessions were legendary. They were good kids and are really amazing adults..

But also teach her to respect you and your husbands needs too..
"Well I am not sure I am up to another guest tonight, I was hoping we could just hang out together. we miss you all week.. and then last night you had a guest.."

"How about you have a friend over for dinner and to watch a movie.. Or how about you invite a friend over and we play board games together. How about we go drive out and have a picnic and look at the clear sky tonight. '

'We could all drive into town and have some ice cream and pie and look at the lights.".

Just this week, my business partners daughter, who is a senior in HS, was at a sleep over on Thursday night with some of the other Soccer team players. They needed to be at a 6:30 practice the next morning.. It was easier for some of the girls to just sleep over, rather than get up so early and run around picking everyone up so early..

We never know what may come, so like a tree, we can bend when needed.

As a reminder.. This is for kids that are responsible, make good grades are respectful and grateful. They earn these extras..

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

I have raised 3 teens and they were not that interested in sleepovers but, O allowed the week ends for those activities, BUT they had to take turns, our house one night theirs the next weekend. But I never let my daughter do sleep overs to any friends house who have teen brothers, I trusted my doctor, but kept her safe at the same time. I think as log as it's not Every weekend and you are good with all the parents, and there is nothing going on that you need to worry about.Just keep the communication active, she's only 12 so not quite a teen yet, J.

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answers from Salinas on

I think you are absolutely onto something in your thinking. I have 14 year old and 10 year daughters who spend a lot of time in our great room with us. If they have have friends over they are usually hanging out upstairs interacting with my husband and I.

I grew up in the house we currently live in and I hated being upstairs. My Dad was away on business a lot and my Mom just wasn't much fun. We developed and great relationship after I moved out but honestly her rules and our lack of a strong relationship were the driving forces behind me holing up in my room. As I got older I would just leave, I practically lived (or at least tried to) at my BFF's house through high school. Coming home when grounded or when my Mom implemented the "one night" sleepover rule you mentioned.

I look back on that with sadness, why didn't we connect better? Why was I adverse to hanging out with the family? Why wasn't our house a fun place to be?

My husband and I are not making the same mistakes. My girls spend most of their free time upstairs with us by choice. The oldest has a very busy schedule but it's clear whether she has a friend over or not she likes to be around us.

Here's my advice. Make your home fun. Listen to "her" music blasting through the whole house sometimes. I know One Direction ewww, but you can stand it for the sake of your relationship right? Watch a movie she wants to watch. Bake cookies together, play a game, do whatever it takes to get her out of her cocoon and interacting with you and your husband. Even if that means allowing double sleep overs sometimes. Be happy she wants to bring friends around and be happy those friends LIKE you. You want to be THAT house. The one where the kids want to go, the one where things are a little loose but always safe. Be the home where you listen and really enjoy the energy of tweens/teens. The formula for staying close is open communication and mutual respect.

The thing is that she's still young, today she wants to hang in her room, tomorrow it's going to be "I want to GO OUT" constantly. You do not want her pushing to go to other peoples homes all the time, you will lose her that way and some other parent will be making the rules. When you lighten up a little and really have fun with your kids and yes, their friends too something funny happens, they want to be around you. Their friends want to come to your house and you know what's going on in their lives. There is no better way to keep tabs on your kid as they grow into a teenager and just like you did last night you will enjoy it. Time is flying, soak up every bit of youthful energy you can, the day will come when we all will wish for a double night sleepover weekend, they are what memories (and strong relationships) are made of.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

We haven't enacted that rule because my daughter doesn't ask for sleepovers. She's 10. But if she did, it would be one night max because weekends are family time. We play games together, watch movies together, do chores together, and spend time bonding with each other. Sunday has church and youth group, which my daughter looks forward to and is more friend time. They have all week with their friends at school, but the weekends are our time. I'm fine with some friend time -- my daughter just got invited to go shopping and to dinner with her friends this afternoon -- but weekends are family time.

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answers from Dallas on

One son did not have many sleep overs but the youngest had one bestie and I felt like his parents and us shared custody! I had him one Friday night and they had the next with my child! One sleep over night a week (there were exceptions as called for). Believe me they didn't sleep! They needed one night to catch up on sleep and church and homework. I need the break from being "on".

If you don't feel like your rule is good then you can change it. Soak up all of it you can stand because they do grow up!

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answers from New York on

at that age there were no rules about friends coming over or going to other friends houses.. but yes i could only have one sleepover a weekend... or someone could sleep over myhouse friday and id be allowed to sleep at someone elses house saturday.. but never two sleepovers at my house the same weekend or me sleep out two nights in a row.. as far as why, i think just for the simple fact of it being a pain in teh butt for my parents.. we'd b up all night goofin around anyway.. and it wasnt like we were hanging out with my parents like you said you were with your daughter and her friend.. occasionally we'd maybe watch a movie but thats about it

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

I love how sleepovers breaks down social barriers between the kids (& the families). Without this mutual trust, it's hard for kids to form firm bonds. They need to be able to share common grounds, explore thoughts & ideas, & just be creative in how they fill in their time together. These nights/weekends together are what make those wonderful memories!

I also appreciate knowing that my son is socially adept enough to spend time with other families, & that those kids feel comfort/ease in our home. My husband & I prepare food for them....& that's about it. They come/go at will in the kitchen. They get their own drinks/snacks. & it's 100% comfort. Now that they're all older & driving, I do make sure the other parents & I are on the same page when it comes to hanging out....away from the home until curfew time. (a heck of a lot more challenging!)

I have always preferred Friday nights....with late pickup on Saturday a.m. or early afternoon. The boys sleep very little, & it gives us a chance to get back on track for Monday a.m. This schedule also allows for Sunday a.m. church time. But there are occasional weekends when it's both night at our house & one with friends. It just depends on where we are schoolwise....end of quarters/terms, etc.

As children, my Sis & I had very limited social time on the weekends. Maybe once a school year & that's it. We owned a Lake House, & that's where we were each weekend from March/April to deer season in the fall. From that point on, our weekends were filled with family/holiday events. Both of us hated being left out of friend activities....& have made danged sure our kids had what we missed. We've also allowed our kids to take friends along on our weekend the lake & beyond. Love filling every seat!

& as another poster said: I prefer being the Hangout House!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

We have no rules about sleep overs. Each event is discussed at that time and decided on then. Sometimes I'm simply too tired to have another kid in the house, sometimes I'm fine having 3 extra kids. If there's an early morning swim meet, nobody's spending the night. If there's a lot of homework they have to do, no sleepovers. Other than specific reasons not to have a sleepover, my answer will usually be a "yes".

I guess I see no point in having rules for the sake of having rules. And if my kids want to spend both Friday and Saturday night at friends' places (as long as it's not every weekend), I have no problem with that, either.

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answers from Minneapolis on

I didn't read all the other responses, but, I think as parents we have the right to set, and re-set, "rules" as we see fit. I actually believe in few rules and more in making each decision as things come up based on the situation. I like when my daughter (age 10) has a friend over, too, because I (or the TV) am not the only source of entertainment and they get more creative when there's two, from what I've seen.

So, what about having friends over as it works for you and only one actual over-night? If yours actually sleep when a friend is over, then occasionally let it happen more than once. (Mine likes to stay up too late even without a friend over!)

Again, I'm not one to have too many rules. Only about the big things (school, homework, how we treat others, etc.)

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answers from San Francisco on

Sleep Overs - Twice a month during the school year (One at your home the other at her friend's home.....IF you know the parents and they will be home).

During the summer -- as much as twice a week (Again, alternate houses)...There should always be family time and family responsibilities no matter if it is summer or during the school year.

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answers from Kansas City on

Our rule is sleepover one day during the weekend. Cannot be on Saturday unless they plan to go to church with us. They cannot sleep elsewhere on Saturday for the same reason, even if it is a party. We do allow them to sleep over somewhere and have someone over on the same weekend. Just not every weekend. There is nothing wrong with your rules. Good luck and God Bless.



answers from Phoenix on

If I can be so presumptuous, I think the real point behind your question is that she's more social with the family when she has friends over and you want more of that time with her. Have you tried just telling her how much fun you have just hanging out with her on nights like last night. Tell her you understand her desire to spend time by herself, but you are missing her and would really like to just hang out together more. If you don't make family time a RULE and just let her know you simply miss her, she might come out of her room to hang out more often. If not, then have as many sleepovers as you can tolerate and enjoy the time with her any way you can get it. She'll see you as the coolest because of all the sleepovers and will never know you have ulterior motives. ;-)



answers from Topeka on

I don't have kids that old yet, but when I was that age my mom limited me to one per weekend because otherwise I would get over-tired and it never failed, I would come down with a fever. I know....dumb, huh? I didn't have any other symptoms, I'd just get a fever if I didn't get enough sleep (and if I had a sleep over/slept over at someone's house, I NEVER got enough!). That was my mom's only reason, and I don't remember ever arguing with her about it.



answers from Joplin on

Personally, I don't like to set "rules" about these issues. I have good kids, as yours is, and as long as they are home with me I don't care if their friends are out our house. (Stingy a little maybe?) They know they have to ask out of the company of friends and understand when we have to say no because something is going on. There may be weekends they have friends there all weekend long, and others may go by that no one extra is around. I like knowing they are having fun at home and I know what's going on. I think this has helped with my 16 year old not thinking she has to be out running around all weekend long now that she has a little more freedom and a license. There are maybe two nights a month she will meet some friends up town at the hang out spot but most of time she prefers to be at home and have someone or a group over to our house.

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