How to Throw a Sleepover Without Singing the Slumber Party Blues

 

Ever wonder why they call it a slumber party when no one gets any sleep? My daughter just talked me into having a slumber party with middle school girls.  The last time I threw one for her she was in elementary school.

We had too many girls – 14 to be exact.  The girls looked adorable when they first arrived all huddling together in fluffy PJ’s, with matching slippers.

After they got jacked up on soda, candy and cake, they started running amok,  jumping on beds and having pillow fights.

You might as well be watching a scene from the movie Where the Wild Things Are with the kids ready to let the rumpus begin!  One child was giving my daughter’s favorite American Girl doll a crewcut fit for a marine, and another was hiding in my linen closet  smearing more chocolate on my sheets than you’d find at Hersey Park, whining, “I’m starving, there’s NOTHING to EAT!”  She’s the redhead with pigtails who already left a snow cone melting on my den rug.

At 1am when the girls wouldn’t go down, I started cursing the inventor of the sleeping bag.  Then my husband yelled, “There’s a mouse in the house!” seeing a rodent scampering behind the tv cabinet, moving faster than Bo Jackson in his heyday making a 40-yard dash.

hamster-birthday-hatMy husband didn’t  realize that the girls let my daughter’s hamster out of the cage.  By that point, I was  actually thinking of calling  parents in the middle of the night.

Blogger Lori Lite of  Stress Free Kids  has some great tips for a birthday party. She tells me that her post Stress Free Birthday Party  was inspired by a middle school party.  She talks about the need to limit choices, manage technology, and set boundaries.  I obviously didn’t do this.  The girls at my daughter’s party spent hours arguing over  which Movies On Demand to rent  and kept sending messages to each other on cell phones. Lite suggests limiting movie choices with the birthday girl deciding ahead of  time and collecting cell phones at a certain time.birthday-947438_640

I would also advise you to avoid slumber parties before kids reach middle school age. The little kids are way too young for group overnights.  Have  the younger kids come to a  “pajama party” instead where they dress for bed and watch movies and eat pizza but leave by 9:30pm.  This way you won’t end up with more bags under your eyes than you’ll find in a box of Lipton Tea.

Girl Drama 101:How to Survive the Middle School Years

Our girls enter middle school playing with American Girl dolls, and leave flirting with boys.  Some even have boyfriends and are dating by the time they head to high school.  In middle school our girls are trying to grow up, but still have a lot of “kid” left in them.

It’s a lot of change in a short time. Raging hormones, painfully awkward social interactions, and academic pressure lead to stress.   The stress usually winds up dumped on our doorstep.  Between the ages of 10 and 13, tempers flare and conflicts with parents increase. So does the backbiting directed at other girls.  Any mother of a middle school girl would be lying if she didn’t tell you that this stage comes with  drama.  One moment they act like angels, and the next the fangs come out.  You may  need more wearwolf hunters than you’ll find on an episode of  Teen Wolf.

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When the cliques form in middle school, there is always one girl in the group who deserves an Oscar for Best Tween Drama Queen.

Some girls  thrive on the negative attention.  girls-914823_640They  gossip, betray confidences, and pit one friend against another to remain center stage.   You need to stop it while you can still mold them like a piece of clay, or they’ll be the type of toxic adults you avoid at high school reunions. The rapid physical and emotional changes can put almost any  middle school child on edge as they struggle to find their identity.  Are they a nerd, a jock, a goth?  They worry that they won’t fit in.  One minute they are deliriously happy, and the next miserable.

Any little thing can set them off and trigger back talk or a meltdown worse than any toddler you’ve seen.

Experts say that arguments with parents are normal as they separate  and assert independence. The key as a mother is to keep calm. Do not take the bait and resort to sarcasm,  name-call or fly off the handle and yell. I find yelling doesn’t work.  The “loudmouths” may have gotten high ratings on Morton Downey Jr.’s old “trash” TV show, but your child turns it around and asks, “Why do you yell?” If they yell, the best way to get them to stop is to tell them that they don’t want to sound that way.  You also need to pick your battles or kids will rebel if  you are too rigid.   Middle school meltdown triggers can include:

  • Not being able to find a hair tie
  • Their favorite pants are in the wash
  • They are forced to admit you are their mother publicly
  • You turned off their computer before they caught a Pokémon
  • Jimmy Kimmel has you tell them that you ate all of their Halloween candy and plan to eat their Christmas stocking stuffers too, down to the last peppermint pattie

A recent study found that having a child in middle school is the most stressful time in a mother’s life.  It’s just such a roller coaster.  But look at the bright side, at least they’re potty-trained and share their feelings.

Jennifer Aniston Pushes Back: She’s Not a “Sad, Childless Human”

Hollywood superstar Jennifer Aniston opens up about her life in the latest issue of Marie Claire.  In an intimate interview, the actress calls out the notion that a woman who doesn’t have kids should be pitied.

In the Marie Claire article in the December issue out on newsstands November 15, the 47-year-old actress says:

“I HAVE WORKED TOO HARD IN THIS LIFE AND THIS CAREER TO BE WHITTLED DOWN TO A SAD, CHILDLESS HUMAN.”

In the  interview, the former Friend’s star explains why she fought back against the harsh judgment women feel for not getting married or having children in her powerful Huffington Post op-ed she wrote in July. In that piece she said:

“The sheer amount of resources being spent right now by press trying to simply uncover whether or not I am pregnant (for the bajillionth time… but who’s counting) points to the perpetuation of this notion that women are somehow incomplete, unsuccessful, or unhappy if they’re not married with children.”

She now tells Marie Claire that she wants to change the critical lens through which we look at women.   You can get a sneak peak at the article here.

I feel there is also harsh judgement doled out on mothers.  When I worked in TV news, people who hardly knew me would come up in the supermarket and start shaming me about the long hours that I worked at a demanding  job away from my kids.  “Why did you have kids if you didn’t want to raise them?” one ballsy neighbor asked after word spread that I was late for my own daughter’s birthday party.  I was covering a political convention.

Interviewing former Lieutenant Governor of New York Betsy McCaughey at the Democratic State Convention in NYC, 1998. Seated next to McCaughey is RNN Talk Show Host Richard French. He and I provided live convention coverage together throughout this event.

Interviewing former Lieutenant Governor of New York Betsy McCaughey at the Democratic State Convention in NYC, 1998. Seated next to McCaughey is RNN Talk Show Host Richard French. He and I provided live convention coverage together throughout this event.

It didn’t matter that I had called my husband, who had left work early to back me up. The MOTHER wasn’t there.  “Liar, liar, pants on fire,” my daughter said when I arrived late quoting from the phrase kids use when they think someone is lying.  I had promised her that I would be there. I let her down. She ran into the house sobbing.  Having other people pile on only made it worse. “What kind of a mother are you?” said another woman lashing out.  Her daughter was a party guest and she had stayed to help my husband.   I felt  belittled. I felt condemned.  No one cared that I had just scooped the competition.

It’s sad that a beloved megastar like Aniston, who has brought so much joy to our lives, feels she’s been shamed too.

You have to wonder how many women feel this way who try to achieve.  In the Marie Claire interview,  Aniston candidly says her love life has been “shamed” throughout her career, including her 2005 divorce from Brad Pitt.  Aniston is now happily married to actor Justin Theroux.

Aniston is so right that we need to stop “picking” women apart. One size does not fit all, unless you are a teenager shopping at Brandy Melville.