Top 5 Necessary Conditions to Ensuring a Successful Sleepover – Childhood versus Adulthood

No surveys or quasi-experimental methods were used in generating this top five list. All selections and their supporting evidence base are anecdotal and based on the life experiences of this writer.  As always with Public Beetle, you are encouraged to offer your experiences with the topic of discussion, both those shared and those divergent.

In this most recent installment of “Top 5 Necessary Conditions…” I will be exploring the topic of sleepovers, specifically “Top 5 Necessary Conditions to Ensuring a Successful Sleepover: Childhood versus Adulthood.” But are these really different questions? The specifics vary, sure, but the high level indicators appear to be the same. I submit that the best sleepovers of my childhood all shared the following conditions. And what’s more, the best sleepovers of my adulthood share the same.

  1. Company – As with all things in life, happiness is best shared with others, and sleepovers are no exception.
  2. Entertainment – Any event spanning more than 5 hours must be entertaining. With sleepovers this typically entails one or a combination of the following. Stories, including but not limited to gossip and secrets; movies; music; dancing; a physical transformation of some kind such as dress up, marker to the face, tattoo, changes in brain states.
  3. Sleeping Accommodations – Any event involving sleep, short and poor though it may be, is contingent on quality accommodations.
  4. The overnight bag – What is that boyscout motto? Always be prepared? A really good sleepover is elevated when you’re prepared with games, toys, toothbrush, clean underwear, maybe even a fresh shirt.
  5. Food – This one may be unexpected, but think about it. What did you eat before you got to the sleepover? Is it going to make you toot, leading to a round of “he who smelt it, dealt it” or simply unspoken mortification? What did you eat once you were there? Is it going to make you bloated or vommy, requiring an early exit? Was it inedible, thus making your belly a musical instrument all night? Or was it delicious and totally put you in the mood to party?

All five of these do not bear exploration given that two and five, like one, are self evident truths of life, but I believe numbers three and four are worth elaborating. As is one, actually, as company always deserves a mention.

One: Company
As a kid, sleepovers were usually a group affair – a birthday party, a Saturday evening with your best friends, and maybe in those long summers a spontaneous sleepover marathon spanning two nights. Thinking back on these times, there is a clear cast of characters. The best friend, the storyteller, the adventurer, the person you secretly want to be your new best friend. These people taken together or apart ensure success. Ask yourself if the following characters were present for the best sleepovers you can recall from your early years.

  • The person you fell asleep talking to.
  • The person who told the best story, causing soda to spurt forth from noses and secrets to tumble out of mouths.
  • The person who came up with the best dare or prank phone call.
  • The person you talked to every day for the rest of the school year after that night.

So where do the differences come in? Well, a sleepover in adulthood usually comes in three forms.

  • You’ve raged it the night before and crashed and burned with a close friend or a stranger.
  • Summer vacation, that blessed gift of grade school, is replaced with an aggregate 30 days a year called “annual leave,” give or take Federal Holidays. Memorial Day Weekend, Fourth of July, Labor Day Weekend – all at beaches, usually a group affair.
  • You’re in a relationship or having relations with someone.

In all these scenarios, the company is directly and most strongly related to whether or not you had a good time. But for the sake of word count, lets focus on the third. If you have a sleepover with someone you’re going to “accidentally kick” because they snore, or someone you’re going to ditch in the early light of day, then that sleepover was not a success.

If, however, you had a sleepover with your best friend, an adventurer, or someone you secretly want to be your new best friend, it was probably a great night. In this instance, best friend can substituted with “special friend.” As for the storyteller, I think they are always best left out of sleepovers once you’ve past the age of 18, unless you’re on a camping trip.

Three: Sleeping Accommodations
I’m not going to argue one way or the other about how much sleeping actually happens at a sleepover, but let’s explore a few points here.

  • Equipment. As a kid, all you needed was an appropriately sized sleeping bag with a functioning zipper and a pillow, preferably your own. As an adult, a couch is the bare minimum, possibly a throw blanket. Even better, a bed with (clean) sheets and a pillow not completely deformed. The best, a queen size bed with at least one pillow for your head, and preferably good pheromones wafting from the comforter.
  • Placement. As a kid, the spot of your sleeping bag was everything. Who you were next to (friend or foe), where you were placed (bathroom or heater), and whether or not you were going to get stepped on. As an adult, placement and equipment start to merge, but the principle of who you are next to remains critical.

Four: The overnight bag
It strikes me that when I have sleepovers these days, I don’t pack a bag. Mostly because I don’t have sleepovers. But if I do sleep somewhere other than my own house, it would be more accurately called a power nap from which one wakes up still drunk. Probably on a couch, but maybe in a bed. And at that point I just hope I threw an extra pair of contacts into my pocket or purse. All other essential needs and fixes can be handled in an unfamiliar bathroom in the morning. If you have to leave before you can make this trip, then may the kindness of averting eyes and non-judgemental cab drivers aid you.

The last time I packed an overnight bag for a legit sleepover, it wasn’t so much a bag as a medium sized but inconspicuous purse. It was tricky. And it left me wondering how men handle this issue when they aren’t the, “What? This? I always have a canvas/leather messenger bag/backpack” type.  Why so complex? Because as an adult, you usually can’t pack for a sleepover. To do so would be cumbersome, transparent, and forward.

Overnight bags when you’re in a relationship are much easier because the objective is clear. Same as when you’re a kid. “I’m going to spend the night and we are going to have fun.”