2. Execution

Once you’re sure you’ve covered every angle, bide the remaining time until it’s go time. When the moment has come to pack up and ball out, grab all your stuff that you pre-packed in the planning stage and make your way through whatever route you hashed out ahead of time. Some helpful hints for minimizing the chances that you’ll be heard:

  • Carpet is your friend—it doesn’t let sound travel as well as linoleum or tiled floors and is ideal for going stealth mode.
  • If you’re moving through hallways or across non-carpeted floor, wearing socks can dramatically increase your sneakability. Stay light-footed, patient, and alert and you’ll be out the door in no time.
  • Turn door handles and open doors and windows really, really slowly. You might have to budget in some extra time for this, but silence is easier to maintain when you take your time.
  • If you’re making your way down stairs, it’s a good idea to walk with your feet along the side of the stairs that’s connected to the wall while balancing most of your weight on the banister, avoiding the middle of the steps. Keeping your weight balanced this way does a pretty good job of eliminating that creaking stair noise that basically screams, “HEY, I’M SNEAKING OUT!” And remember: Go sloooooooowly.
  • Walls give stability to the structures closest to them because it’s where things like floorboards have the most reinforcement, so making your way along the part of the floor closest to the wall.
  • Putting on your shoes can be troublesome, especially if you’re trying to be quick and quiet. If you have to change your shoes or don a pair in the first place, it’s a good idea to put them on once you’re outside instead of fussing with them while you’re still inside.
  • Do not accidentally lock yourself out. I can’t emphasize this enough: Always, always have an easy way back into the place from which you snuck. Guaranteeing that you have a way back inside helps eliminate the risk that you’ll be found out coming back. The most important thing is that you’ll know that you won’t be left without a place to spend the rest of the night after the fun is over.

3. Return

If you’ve set up your return route and not locked yourself out, the rest should be a cakewalk. That said, this is not a free pass to be as loud and careless as you want! Silence, patience, and caution are still super important—you’re not home free yet. So many flawlessly executed plans are ruined by a too-eager need to rush or by getting careless at the end. The last thing you want is to be found out so close to the finish line.

As an extra precaution, you can change back into your pajamas if you think it’ll give your ready-made excuse more credibility if you’re caught coming back through the entrance of your choice. If you’re quiet and calm, you should be able to make it back into the safe zone without any problems.

Dealing with “OH, CRAP” scenarios:

Although you can try, the truth is that you can’t always anticipate everything that might happen in one night. You might have done everything you could to make for a hassle-free departure and return, but even then unexpected hurdles can come your way. For example: I know I’ve said over and over not to lock yourself out, but for the sake of argument, let’s go there. What do you do if the prop you used to keep your window open slid away, or the front door is locked, or—oh god, even worse—you see lights on inside when it was completely dark when you left?

Don’t panic. Breathe:

  • Remember that second exit point? Is there a way to get in through there?
  • Are there any other open windows, doors, or fire escapes you can sneak through?
  • Maybe (hopefully) you thought ahead and prepared for this worst-case scenario by packing a spare key, or you know there’s a copy hidden under the flowerpot on the front porch. Whip that sucker out and (quietly!) unlock your way back in.
  • If there are lights on, that’s a sign someone’s awake—but it doesn’t necessarily mean that someone knows you’re missing. Depending on how safe you feel in your neighborhood, you’ve got a couple of options. You can choose to either try and wait it out by hanging around outside while hoping the mystery person inside heads to bed or, if you don’t feel safe spending a lot of time outside at night, book it to a friend’s house and wait there before trying to return to your own domain. If you have access to a car with lockable doors, you can even wait there in the meantime!

Once you’re back where you were supposed to be all along, you can let out a sigh of relief—because you did it, you champion!

Sometimes, even the best-laid plans are foiled. If you’re caught totally red-handed with absolutely no way out—say someone you know catches you at the movie theatre buying popcorn for a late-night movie with friends, or you return home to find that your parents have stayed up waiting for you to come home after discovering your escape—fess up immediately. There’s no way any kind of excuse will help you here, so it’s best to be honest: You knew the risk, and you’ve got no choice but to accept whatever punishment you’re given. All you can do now is acknowledge your wrongdoing and hope for the best. The best thing to do here is apologize profusely and ask for forgiveness.

One final note: If you ever find yourself in serious trouble, it’s absolutely critical that you call a responsible, trustworthy individual you can depend on when you’re in dire need—even if your emergency contact is the exact person who would be SO MAD if they knew you snuck out. There are some situations that demand that you prioritize safety and security over sneaking out without getting caught, and ultimately you never want to get yourself into a jam without any options. Even if you think your older sister/parents/relatives/guardians/et cetera will be super pissed or disappointed that you left the house without permission, your safety is far more important to the people who care about you than curfews. Don’t be afraid to call on the most integral people in your life for help when you need it.

Et voilà! May these tips get you in and out whenever and wherever you find yourself facing a necessary after-hours escapade. Stay calm, stay cool, and stay sneaky, my ninjas. ♦