CoffeeBreakConfidential3Katherine here, writing from a sunny beach in Portugal. I imagine normal people would enjoy this, but as a spy, I mostly just feel like an easy target for enemy surveillance.

With all the summer sunshine, going to bed early these days isn’t exactly tempting (unless you’re a goody two-shoes). That’s why earlier this week, Ahna and I discussed our favorite bedtime reads.

But as we did our reconnaissance, I thought back to what it was like to be a young spy: my parents may have let me crack all the safes I wanted, but I still had to be in bed by nine. Having a bedtime seemed so unreasonable to me . . . why would I want to go to sleep when I could sneak into places I wasn’t supposed to be? Nighttime provides a daily opportunity for stealth, and I have always hated wasting it.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand all the logical, valid arguments for ensuring that children (and by extension, parents) get enough sleep. And since I work for a children’s publisher, I must advise my younger readers that bedtimes are there to help you, and you should also follow the rules and listen to your authority figures. And as great as coffee is, don’t drink it until you’re older.

On the other hand, I am a spy, and being a spy means breaking the rules and — more importantly — avoiding detection. And so, for anyone who may need it, I have compiled a dossier on ways to stay up past your bedtime and get away with it. What follows is highly classified. As usual.

How to Stay Up Late and Get Away with It

Be prepared. Choose your night carefully; you’ll want to make sure you don’t have to wake up early the next day. It’s also good to get an extra-long sleep the night before you stay up late. Make sure any electronic devices you’ll want to use are charged and ready to go. Create a stash of the things you’ll want for the evening: books, snacks, night vision goggles – and store them somewhere safe.

If you’re really ambitious, or just a good spy in training, I’d recommend making a map of your house. Mark the places you want to have late-night access to, as well as any spots where you run a high risk of detection. Creaky stairs and floorboards, rooms where noisy pets sleep – you’ll want to be sure to avoid these places when you’re moving around in the middle of the night.

Act natural. If you are the kind of kid who consistently tries to prolong bedtime, go through your usual tricks. Ask for a glass of water, beg to hear one more story. There is danger in being too quiet; the last thing you want is for your parents to suspect something.

Wait. This is the hardest part. You have to wait until you know your parents have gone to bed, and then you have to wait even longer to be sure they’re asleep. This will probably take a while, and there’s a high risk of you getting bored or – worse – falling asleep. I recommend listening to music or an audiobook through headphones to keep yourself entertained: earbuds can quickly be yanked out of sight if your parents come in to check on you.

The night is yours! If you created a map, put it to good use. Make sure to stay quiet; I’ve seen a lot of spies get into scrapes because they were overly confident. Beyond that, do what you like! (Personally, I enjoy midnight snacking and reading magazines in foreign languages.) Just make sure you’re back in bed before any early risers wake in the morning.

Whether you observe a bedtime or not, I hope you find a way to practice your stealth tactics this month. Speaking of which, I’m about to leave this beach (this swimsuit doesn’t even have a pocket for a signal jammer — I mean, what’s the point?) and find myself a nice shadowy corner.