The Seven Deadly Stages of a Sleepover Party

by Stacy Graebner
Originally Published: 
A mother and 4 boys during her son's sleepover party sitting at a dining table with various snacks

There are two things in this world that truly paralyze me with fear:

1. The thought of being buried alive

2. My kids asking if they can have a sleepover party

I’ve mustered up the energy to host a sleepover party twice, and that was two times too many. From what I can remember (details are sketchy, as is often the case with traumatic events), the emotional roller coaster of a sleepover party goes something like this:


Before the party begins you psych yourself up with positive thoughts:

How bad could it be?

I have lots of fun activities planned.

My son’s friends are lovely. They make good choices.

I make good choices.

You then high-five yourself for being the best mom ever and envision yourself working on Sudoku or refinishing your kitchen table while the kids entertain themselves. #blessed

Complete Chaos

About five seconds after the guests arrive, Denial is quickly abandoned in favor of Complete Chaos. A room of 10 boys who are PSYCHED FOR A SLEEPOVER! ramps up quickly. Suddenly it’s like a goat rodeo where the goats are on crack. The boys are everywhere yet nowhere at the same time: in the house, out of the house, upstairs, downstairs, playing Manhunt, not playing Manhunt, on their phones, off their phones, all while announcing things like, “my flashlight broke,” “I think I got stung by a bee,” “I’m hungry” and “my sister has lice.” (Wait, what??!)

Then come the questions:

Where’s my iPhone?

Do you have a charger? (Not that kind of charger)

What kind of dog is that?

Where’s Luke?

Where’s my underwear?

What’s that smell?

Is it time for cake?

Oh, and while all of this is going on, you ask yourself one basic but very significant question:

Where the hell did my husband go?

After six hours of this (OK three, but it feels like six), you wrangle the group into one room for downtime: popcorn and a movie. You convince yourself that this will lull them into a drowsy state where everyone falls asleep by midnight. Perfect ….

Silly you! The movie is watched for approximately nine minutes, at which point everyone announces that they’ve already seen it 15 times (and by the way “that movie sucks”), so let’s just wrestle, throw things at each other, eat more candy and play some high intensity Xbox games instead, because YOLO!

After two more hours of Complete Chaos, you attempt the long, slow, ugly process known as “Please, Go the Eff to Sleep” which leads to the inevitable stage of …


The anger phase occurs from roughly midnight until 2 a.m. It’s that stage when Happy, Together Mom morphs into Stark-Raving-Lunatic Mom. After 36 trips in and out of the room, deep resentment sets in.

You are now angry at:

1. Yourself. (Really? 10 boys? Smart move.)

2. Adam Sandler, for not being more entertaining in that lame movie.

3. The Xbox inventor (or “D-bag” as you just referred to him in your head).

4. Your husband who reappeared just in time for two pieces of cake but then crashed around 11 p.m. after some hilarious fart jokes with the boys.

You are also not pleased with:

Bathroom Boy: This guy has the bladder of an 80-year-old woman and disrupts everyone as he climbs over their heads six times because he has to “pee really bad”.

Skittle Kid: The boy who OD’d on candy about three hours ago and has been threatening to throw up for the past 30 minutes.

Loud Whisperer: Just as everyone is dozing off, this guy thinks of one last hilarious YouTube video he needs to describe in great detail. He also enjoys reminding everyone how scary the basement is in his “I see dead people” voice.

Phone Ninja: Despite taking all phones away, this sneaky kid apparently hid his in a body cavity because it continues to ping with a text message every ten minutes. Of course nobody will out him because he is the true hero of the sleepover. PING!


Around 2 a.m., anger is swiftly replaced by an intense feeling of panic when you realize sleep may never happen. You comfort yourself with these thoughts:

What if they never go to sleep?

What if they never go to sleep?

What if they NEVER go to SLEEP?


This is your last desperate attempt to end the madness. At this point, you lose all sense of decency and just beg for mercy: “For the love of Adam Sandler, please, please go to sleep!” You even consider launching into the “ugly cry” just to guilt some of them into submission, but that might give them nightmares. Anyone care for a glass of warm milk? Perhaps with a Benadryl brownie? Anyone? Please?


Around 3 a.m. you realize this experience is a lot like giving birth. You’re exhausted, you feel like you were hit by a truck, and you’re not sure if you pooped yourself. To make matters worse, you still have hungry mouths to feed in four short hours. Hopefully, like childbirth, the trauma and pain will be forgotten a few weeks later.


Somehow you emerge the next morning just in time to greet happy, well-rested parents as they arrive to pick up their kids. They eagerly recount their fun date nights and gush about how nice it was to sleep ’til 9 a.m. You tell them what angels their kids were as you stand there braless, mascara running down your face, pulling popcorn and Sour Patch Kids out of your hair (at least you hope that’s what that is).

Then your disheveled, bed-headed son appears, gives you a huge hug, and says, “Thanks, Mom. That was so much fun!”

Same time next year? Of course.

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