Avoid a nightmare. . .
Get your child to prepare the sleepover room ahead of her friends' arrival.
If there are several children coming, ask them to bring sleeping bags, and get them to bed down on mattresses on the floor.
- For a big sleepover, get them to leave all their stuff in one room, and impress on them that they, not you, are responsible for making sure they take all their belongings home with them.
- Be especially wary, on a Friday-night sleepover, about left school clothes -- this can lead to terrible traumas on the following Monday morning at 8am, when a lost pair of shoes/school skirt becomes a disaster of earth-shattering proportions.
Get the children to pack their uniforms into their bags straight away when they change into their home clothes, which they'll want to do within five minutes of arriving at your house.
- Try to have some sort of structure. For example, tea followed by a wild half hour's play, followed by getting ready for bed, a bedtime DVD, then hot chocolate and then bed.
- Give them 30 minutes to an hour to giggle under the covers with their torches, and then give them a first warning.
Ten minutes later, a second warning. If they're still chatting half an hour later, switch on the lights and threaten to take them all home.
Silence should reign within the next 10 minutes, provided you've sounded sufficiently stern.
- For breakfast, heat up a mountain of croissants and do a jug of watered-down orange or apple juice. Get them to load their own stuff into the dishwasher.
- Make sure the parents collect them by 10am the next morning.
When the door closes behind the last child, give yourself a treat for having made it through. . .