Just because your child has diabetes, they don't have to miss out on normal childhood things, such as sleepovers. It may take a bit more planning, especially around the food part of the evening, but that's what we're here for: to help you and your child enjoy all life has to offer, even with diabetes.
A great slumber party begins with good planning. Over the years, our children have had several parties so here's what we've learned to do (and not do). Really, this article talks about slumber party tips for kids with or without diabetes, but there are special considerations for the child with diabetes.
First, decide how many guests, and then check to make sure there's enough floor space for that many sleeping bags and paraphernalia. Don't invite too many guests; usually 4 or 5 friends who get along together.
Not all kids are ready for slumber parties. It's better to check with parents first to see if the child has spent the night away from their parents, saving you a phone call to the parents in the middle of the night and probable embarrassment of the child.
Also check to see if any child has any special health needs such as diabetes and make sure you're aware of any medicines and insulin injections that will be needed. Find out if the child gives their own injection or will need more than just your observance.
Also find out if there are any food allergies. Is the child a vegetarian?
The invitations should include a list of what the child is to bring: sleeping bag, pillow, pajamas, robe, slippers, a stuffed animal or their favorite Barbie, personal items, and a flashlight (have a supply of extra batteries on hand). Be sure to include the pick-up time for the next morning.
Remove all clutter from the party area, removing all breakable items. Then transform your sleeping space into a party area.
Attach several brightly colored streamers to the ceiling in the center of the area, then stretch the streamers out to the side, twisting as you go, to form a teepee shape. Create a comfortable place to lounge and talk by piling pillows in all shapes, sizes, and colors from all over the house into a big squishy mound.
Put a nightlight in the bathroom and keep hallways lit.
When the guests arrive, give them a tour of the "party" area, pointing out areas of the house that are off limits. It's also good to explain the "rules of the house" - no screaming, jumping on the furniture, no television after the video, only one person in the bathroom at a time, and all the other rules they learned in school.
You'll need to plan on some late-night munchies. Discuss with your diabetic child ahead of time just how much they may eat. Also ask the parents of any other child with diabetes to instruct their child.
Good selections are tiny, quartered sandwiches, mini-bagels spread with low fat cream cheese, cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, popcorn, and pretzels.
Plan on several games such as a stuffed animal (or Barbie) race-line the animals (or dolls) up at the "starting line," then place pieces of colored paper to mark off 15 to 20 spaces on the floor.
Shuffle a deck of cards. Deal a card to each person, then have them move their animal the number of spaces shown on the card. An ace counts as 1; king, queen, or jack have to start at the start line or go back to the start line until the next turn.
The owner of the first animal or Barbie to reach the "finish" line wins a prize.
Face painting is always fun. Face paints are available at most costume or hobby shops. Have a teenage sister or neighbor hired to help create hearts, flowers, stars, butterflies, etc. on the girls cheeks. Make sure to supply a mirror so they can see what's being done.
When it's time for lights out, tissues and cold cream will easily wipe off the paints so that they don't stain their sleeping bags or pillows.
Flashlight limbo will get a lot of laughs. Turn off the lights and have someone shine a flashlight straight out, about 3 feet off the floor. Turn on some "funky" music and have the girls take turns "limboing" under the beam without ducking forward or touching the floor with her hands or knees. If any part of her body touches the beam of light, she's out. After everyone's had a turn, lower the beam and see who can go the lowest. That girls wins a prize.
Ha! is played by having everyone lie down in a circle with their head on another's stomach. Once everyone's in position, the host girl starts by saying "Ha!." Going in a circle, the next girls says "Ha! Ha!," the third girls says, "ha! Ha! Ha!," and so on continuing to add an additional "Ha!" until everyone gets giggling and can't continue.
Be sure to have a couple of disposable cameras available for the girls to document their fun. As the evening get late, everyone gets into their sleeping bag to watch a favorite video. Then it's lights out for whispering your secrets into the night.
As you can see, helping a child with diabetes enjoy a slumber party isn't all that hard. The important thing to stress when your child has diabetes is that he or she can still do all the same activities as the other kids—it just may take a little extra planning when it comes to what to eat and when to take insulin.