Kids often think sleepovers sound like tons of fun—until they actually try one. When Maya was five, she wanted to sleep over at a friend's house, but it turned out she wasn't ready for a whole night away from home. "We were back there picking her up by nine p.m.," says Heather Ross of Northbrook, IL.
The next time the girls wanted to try, Ross decided to host a "sleepunder."Maya's best friend, Samantha, came over at 5 p.m. and the girls decorated cookies, ate dinner, put on pajamas and watched a movie. It was just like a regular sleepover—that is, until 8 p.m., when Samantha's parents arrived to take her home to bed in her own familiar surroundings.
If your child goes to a sleep-under, make sure it's not a first-time playdate, and send along a favorite stuffed animal—some kids get nervous even if they're not sleeping over.