I'm the Mom of a Tween, and This Is What Sleepovers Are Really Like

As a kid, I remember having so much fun at sleepovers. My friends and I would play Girl Talk and Truth or Dare, have pillow fights, and even perform talent shows with homemade award ribbons and everything. The food was always gloriously junky — pizza, ice cream, chocolate chip cookies, the works. Pranks were always part of the night as well. I remember waking up to toothpaste on the bottom of my feet one morning, because I was the first one to fall asleep (very funny, Colleen!).

And now that I have a tween daughter, it's her turn to experience the wonderful world of sleepovers. I have to tell you, though, that trying to be a responsible parent at a sleepover makes me see them in a whole new light. First, my daughter makes a list of the friends she wants to invite and then I argue with her about why we can't have 15 girls over. Then, I plan out activities for the girls to do, which consists of a craft project, nostalgic games, and a movie. Although I had high hopes for a great first slumber party, I found myself experiencing the five stages of grief.

1. Denial

Upon their arrival, the girls immediately start running around and jumping off my new couch like wild animals. They're just excited to be here, right? They'll calm down, right? And it's no big deal that at that same moment, my husband takes off for his man cave for the night, leaving me in complete charge of everything. I'm fine. They're fine. Everything's fine. This night is going to be great.

2. Anger

None of the girls seem interested in the arts and crafts project I carefully and excitedly planned for them, so now I have half-made slime on my kitchen table for no reason. The girls take off to my daughter's room to play and I don't want the money I spent on slime supplies to go to waste, so now I'm sitting alone in my kitchen angrily making globs of glittery slime as I mutter curse words under my breath.

3. Bargaining

Instead of keeping it simple and serving pizza, I thought I'd treat the girls to a homemade Italian meal of chicken parmigiana and spaghetti bolognese. Some of the girls take a couple of polite bites while others just play with their food. Others say they aren't hungry. I know they're anxious to get back to playing and I don't want them to go without eating dinner, so I bribe them with staying up an extra 20 minutes if they eat at least half of what's on their plate. It works!

4. Sadness

It's almost time to start the movie, so the girls change into their pajamas. My family room looks like a giant blur of pink and purple with unicorn, llama, and Pusheen stuffed animals scattered around. I choose a PG movie for the girls to make sure there is no cursing, violence, or sex scenes in it, but apparently, my choice is "for babies." The girls spend the entire movie doing anything but watching it. They are bouncing off the walls, dancing, and happily doing that ear-piercing scream only tweens have the ability to do (you know the one).

It's now time for bed and I'm completely exhausted, but nobody is listening. I have to use my thundering "mom voice" and threaten to never have a slumber party again in order to get the girls to finally listen and get into their sleeping bags.

5. Acceptance

After cleaning up, I flop onto my bed in complete exhaustion. I fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow, but I'm soon woken up to the oh-so-familiar sounds of little girls whispering and giggling. I look at the clock and it's a little past midnight. THAT'S IT?! I give up.

Me of all people know that girls will be girls. They're only little once, and slumber parties are such a fun and memorable age-old tradition. I remember my friends' parents telling us to go to bed and us never listening; I remember us staying up as late as we could; and I remember those late-night conversations being some of the best memories I had with my friends. I hope my daughter and her friends have the same experience. I feel like I could sleep for the next 30 years, but it's worth it.