Know the family your child is staying with and know who will be in the house. This is really, really important.
Be the enquirer. If your child is invited to stay with people you don’t know as well, get to know them better. Invite them over for a drink or meet up at the park. If a sleepover is going ahead and you’ve still got some questions, enquire! As kids get older, it’s harder to keep up with all their friends. Teens especially may be organising their own social engagements. But don’t let go in your quest for information. Make the phone calls and go out of your way to introduce yourself. Call it what it is and be unashamed about your ‘investigation’. “Hi, I’m that parent who gets a bit anxious and needs a lot of details. I’ve got some questions for you: Who will be there? What movie will they watch? What time will they go to sleep? What’s for breakfast? What was your favourite holiday destination as a kid? Who did you vote for?” (Okay, so the breakfast question doesn’t really matter.)
Trust your gut. If you have any hesitations, just say ‘No, thanks’. It’s okay to say no!
Sleepovers need supervision, because children need our presence. If you are the host, think about how you will keep a watchful eye on the kids. If you’re trusting your child to another parent, gently explain your expectations for supervision, and also what your child needs to feel safe. One of my daughters, for example, needs to know that she’s not the last one in the house still awake. So I’ve talked to my good friend (who is the mum of my daughter’s good friend – an arrangement I can highly recommend!) and she tells our daughter that she’ll always stay up until the kids are definitely asleep at a sleepover.