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Instead of a Sleepover, Try a Sleepunder

It was just eight seconds long, but a recent viral video on TikTok and Instagram  sparked a parenting debate over “unpopular parenting decisions.” Social media influencer and mother of two, Tara Huck, opened the flood gates when she proclaimed, “I don’t allow sleepovers.”

As a parent with a “no sleepover rule” myself, I decided to pose the question to the panel of local moms I assemble every week for “Maggie and the Moms,” the parenting segment on WFLA/News Channel 8’s Daytime lifestyle show. While my fellow moms were not exactly gung-ho about their children spending the night away from home, they all agreed that they would allow it—but only when their kids are old enough and only at the home of a family member or close friend.

Panelist Natassja Prose, who blogs about parenting on Prose and Company, piqued our interest with a suggestion none of us had heard before: What about a sleepunder? We all loved the idea and thought every mom should know about it, so we asked Natassja to share all the details.

What is a sleepunder?

A great alternative to the traditional sleepover, but no one actually spends the night. All the fun, from sharing dinner together to playing games in pajamas.

Why is it a good alternative to a sleepover?

It’s great because they can enjoy all the same activities together and there’s an end time. No need to worry about how they’re doing in the middle of the night. Plus, a big bonus, they aren’t staying up until late and coming home super cranky the next day!

What kinds of activities do you suggest?

We’ve made pizzas or a special dessert. Then the kids change into pajamas and either play games or watch a movie together.

What is a typical sleepunder schedule for your family?

  • 6 p.m.: Arrival and play time
  • 7 p.m.: Time to make pizzas or have dinner delivered
  • 8 p.m.: PJ time
  • 8:30 p.m.: Pick a game or a movie
  • 9 p.m.: Dessert or special popcorn mix-ins (think M&Ms with popcorn or special seasonings)
  • 10-11 p.m.: Depending on the age, it’s time to head home after the movie/games

Your #1 tip for a successful sleepunder:

The key is to make it a special night so they don’t even remember there’s no “sleeping over” happening! I’ve been known to even pick up a special new toothbrush for my kiddos or even our guest if it’s at our house!

*Photos by Natassja Prose | Originally Published in January 2022 issue of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.

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