Your 5 1/4-year-old: Ready for sleepovers?

Your 5 1/4-year-old: Ready for sleepovers?

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Your 5-year-old now

It can be hard enough to see your child off to school in the morning. Now she's begging to spend her nights away from home, too. Is your child ready for sleepovers?

It's a very individual decision. If you still have to read her a story, tickle her under each rib, and give bunny and butterfly kisses before she falls asleep, she may not be ready. Shy or anxious children, and those who get up in the middle of the night, probably aren't ready yet, either. The best sleepover candidates separate fairly easily, sleep well, and have a strong interest. Parental readiness figures in, too.

It's ideal if you can start with an overnight at a relative's house. You — and your child — will be more comfortable knowing she's with someone so familiar.

For kids who aren't quite ready, try an almost-sleepover. Invite a couple of friends to put on jammies and come over one evening. Watch a movie, have some popcorn, play games, and send everybody home before bedtime. The best part? Everybody gets a good night's sleep, and there are no middle-of-the-night runs to pick anyone up.

Your life now

Clutter happens — but it doesn't have to happen everywhere. Designate a few clutter-free zones in your house. Let everyone know that a particular counter, corner, or room is off-limits to junk. Try keeping a "junk box" (a plastic storage bin or laundry basket will do) in every room where miscellaneous papers, clothes, and toys can get pitched. It will make the room look neater while also providing a handy place to look for all those things that go missing.

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