When kids party hard

If January is a month when social lives take a short break, then my kids didn’t get the memo. With a record tally of eight parties last month, including two double-bubble days, it has been a hardcore month of partying hard.

It’s a cliche parenting statement; “My kids have a better social life than me”, but seriously, when did I become the taxi driver of not one, but two tiny socialites?

 

THE BIG EVENT

With a five year old and two year old, clearly we are barely novices to the kids party circuit, but we have seen our fair share and it’s safe to say we know the ropes.

The hall party spectacular. The cream of the crop, often involving a kids party entertainer, a fabulous buffet or individually prepared boxes (probably fairly healthy), some spectacular party bags / sweetie cones / gifts (or a combination of the former). Beautifully behaved kids and if you’re really lucky a bar and grub for the grown ups. The elite of parties with an almost wedding reception feel to it, except in the place of a bride or groom will be a full grown adult dressed as Elsa / Spiderman.

The hall party standard. Similar to the above but a little less structured. Often including a bouncy castle and some soft play stuff. The kids will go wild for this shizzle but expect a few tears and banged heads. The buffet selection will be a variety of kids food straight from the 80s and you’ll probably have to still cook dinner when you get home knowing all your kid ate was cheesey puffs washed down with fruit shoots.

The soft play party. A popular choice for its low maintenance parental input. Rock up, drink dodgy coffee, listen out for the sound of your child crying in the distance. Sweaty kids and chicken nuggets will be the order of the day, but they’ll definitely sleep well tonight.

Bowling / cinema / [insert other activity here] party. Ooh this has been a new experience since starting school. The dawn of the activity party – often combined with a happy meal or pizza hut tea. These parties don’t come cheap so if your names on the list, congratulations for making the painstakingly awkward cut.

The house party. Otherwise known as ‘ARE YOU MAD PARENTS?’. Unsurprisingly a rarity in this modern day, as your Mum will like to point out regularly.  Maybe kids of the 80’s weren’t as crazy, although I doubt it very much given all the blue smarties and Um Bongo. If you’re considering this approach I’d seriously limit it to about 6 kids, unless you have a summer birthday, a massive garden, a mansion and a cleaner.

The garden party. A distant memory in the tail end of this bleak winter. If you have a summer party you can create a garden extravaganza, with happy kids and happy parents, well oiled thanks to that jug of Pimms. The reality, sadly all too often is the parents in the kitchen, drinking tea chatting over the monsoon that ‘definitely wasn’ forecasted’, while the kids trash the house.

SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO?

Given our current age bracket of 4-5, this is a topic of conversation that has cropped up loads lately. It seems we are a divided bunch…would you leave a four year old at a party? I have to say, for me, it’s got to be a no for now. That’s just a step too far when it comes to passing over responsibility of our child to people we just met, in a public place with 11 other kids. So that Mum skulking around in the cafe overlooking the bowling lanes…hi, that’s me.

TEAM MUM, TEAM DAD, TAG TEAM OR A TEAM EVENT?

This has, of late, been a bone of contention in our home. When it comes to a weekend party, does Mum take kids, Dad take kids, or do we all go?

I have to say, I’ve come to see kids parties as a bit of a social event for me, so I don’t really mind taking the girls. I genuinely really enjoy catching up with the parents I’ve made friends with over the last five years. That said, there is a certain amount of free-time-envy going on if Dad gets to stay at home, and these things can be pretty migraine inducing at times. We tend to play it by ear – he comes if I know (think) there might be some Dads he knows there, or if we just haven’t spent that much quality time together. This is one up for debate, and I know there are some Dads to whom kids parties are plain no go areas.

THE SIBLING CONUNDRUM

As we are now well into the second tier of Superkids, the parties have somewhat doubled up with a dozen or so sibling hi-jackers. It’s sometimes unclear who is invited, you don’t want to make a wrong assumption as it’s understandably pricey and chaotic to include a mixed aged group. Just make sure you subtly get clarity on who the party is for before heading off with two party frocked princesses / spidermen.

THE GUEST LIST

I’m pretty surprised just how many kids from school have thrown #whole class’ parties. It’s for sure going to avoid any upset caused by little Billy picking his five best friends (now that is some pressure for a thirty four year old let alone a four year old), but jeez that’s going to be one big party. Do you suddenly cull the baby group crowd, the ones who have taken pride of place at every previous birthday and been those first and precious friends in the tough early days of parenthood? And what about all the cousins, and your friends’ kids? Time to get tough or things are going to get out of hand..it’s like the awkward wedding guest list all over again, except it’s every year.

If you find your name not on any list, and therefore not coming in, that can be tough for loads of reasons. Upset kids, angry parents, awkward playground moments. My advice is to celebrate a party free weekend and focus on your family, your friends. Make your own fun and let it go, like a helium balloon on the way to the car (with less tears).

BRINGING HOME THE DOUBLE

At any given party you can spot the parent eagerly gathering up coats and shoes five minutes before the end to dash off to the next party. Usually a 30 minute drive from home in the opposite direction and may involve a quick outfit change from party dress to soft play casual wear. The kids will think this is Christmas day all over again…I just hope you popped a bottle of wine on ice before leaving…

So there we go, with a fifth birthday party on the very near horizon it’s time for us to get planning our own extravaganza…or one friend over for tea.

x MMT

Pink Pear Bear

 

 

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43 thoughts on “When kids party hard

  1. Life Love and Dirty Dishes Reply

    I hate doing the guest list. Always feel so awkward! Very true post. Big is off to a science party this weekend!

  2. pinkpearbear Reply

    Yes! This is absolutely spot on! ‘Painstakingly awkward cut’ doesn’t quite cover the horrendousness of needing to whittle down numbers. Parties here are strictly no siblings so we find that neither Mum nor Dad gets a break! Thanks for being an important part of the #bigpinklink

  3. Nicole Reply

    OMG, you summed this up perfectly! Loved this post:)
    #coolmumclub

  4. kerry Reply

    HAHA spot on!! we have a bowling one on Sunday!! I decided on staying as its in a very busy place along with another 15 children!

    #coolmumclub

  5. The Mumatron Reply

    I’m in first birthday territory- yes first birthday party. We’ve been invited to so many that I feel obliged to throw one! I remember my mum doing the best parties at our house when I was young. I had whole class parties, at home, with a theme they were stuff of legend. #CoolMumClub

  6. franbackwithabump Reply

    Parties are a minefield aren’t they and I loved when I could leave Ella and not had to ensure teo hours of awkwardness with the nursery mums! #coolmumclub

  7. beautybabyandme Reply

    Oh Lordy I didn’t realise how much there was so much to think about with kids parties! And I’ve got all this to come!! Pass the gin…… ahem, I mean coffee obviously 😉 xx thanks for hosting #coolmumclub

  8. familylifeandme Reply

    My daughter definately has a better social life than me. I’m not sure how I’m going to cope when Dylan gets a bit older and he has parties to attend too! I’ve been the idiot that has hosted kids house parties before and hated every minute of it. The sheer chaos is enough to unnerve even the strongest of woman! Xxx #coolmumclub

  9. Chilli Regina Reply

    This is how it really is, I couldn’t have said it better. But I started cutting down on the parties, as it can become quite expensive and overwhelming. I’ve talked to my kids and we decided together that they go to the parties of their friends and the ones that they also invite to their birthday party. So, we’ve cut down to 6 a year + their own. And it’s a whole lot more than my party numbers, which is zero!;)) #coolmumclub

  10. and Jacob makes three Reply

    Ha! I dread the thought of birthday parties! Not going, just hosting. #coolmumclub

  11. bobsy's mum (@stressed_mummy_) Reply

    I make The Boys Dad take him. I hate them! I wouldn’t leave him yet, and he’s 6! #coolmumclub

  12. Cheryl @ Tea or Wine Reply

    Yes! Nodding along with all of this! I too don’t feel comfortable enough to leave my kids at a party yet so I’m always skulking around but actually enjoying catching up with the other parents. I’m not sure about inviting the entire class to a party – I can see the issues with both. My eldest has her birthday in August so we have so far managed to avoid upsetting people in the class that we haven’t invited. My youngest will be different though.
    Preparing myself for the joys of a soft play party tomorrow and the inevitable highs (then lows) after the shoot fruit hit. #BigPinkLink x

  13. motherhoodtherealdeal Reply

    OMG we have totally just stepped onto the whole birthday party merry go round. I am so not going to be doing #wholeclass I will be the nutter doing it in our house probably! Will I leave to tell the tale to #coolmumclub tho? xoxo

  14. Kat le Fae (@KatCandyfloss) Reply

    They really do have pretty amazing social lives! Evie’s got so many parties coming up in the next few weeks. #coolmumclub

  15. Briony Reply

    Oh god I’ve got this horror to come haven’t I? I don’t think I’m ready. #coolmumclub

  16. itsmeanniebee Reply

    When my daughter started school nearly everyone in the class had ‘whole’ class parties. It was a nightmare, I think we had 8 weekends on the trot. I’m hoping this year the parents will chill out a bit and just invite their friendship groups. And not have soft play (ick). #coolmumclub

  17. Mess and Merlot Reply

    8 in a month? Ouch! We managed to get away with ‘family parties’ (basically the usual Sunday lunch round the in-laws with presents, cake and balloons) up until the age of 4 for both of mine. They soon got wise to the fact they were missing out (THANKS OTHER MUMS!) and since we’ve had the village hall, football party, house party and invitations have just gone out for the softplay/ Princess party!! Thank God my 8yo wanted a day in London just with Mummy last year – that’s ma boy!!! No such luck with Princess Tippytoes. #BloggerClubUK (PS neither myself or Himself understand why both parents would ever, EVER choose to go to a party!)

  18. Mess and Merlot Reply

    #CoolMumClub

  19. Amanda Blackburn Reply

    I’m afraid I am the crazy mum who has had most of my older children’s Birthday parties at my house. However, my now 6 year old has not had this experience, bless him (mean old mum) I’m alot older and less paitent and more house proud! He hasn’t really missed out, he’s had two ball area parties and the rest we have celebrated in Florida. On our last holiday in Florida he kept telling the waiters at all of the restaurants that he would soon be 5 and we never had to buy pudding LOL and must have sang Happy Birthday at least 5 times. He didn’t lie and said it was on his last day home, but the American’s are amazing and were so lovely with him. His Birthday wasn’t actually till our last day, and guess what, more cake on Thomson Dreamliner, he had half of the plane singing Happy Birthday and when we landed got to sit with the pilots and pretend to fly the plane.
    Great post again!
    #coolmumclub

  20. Tubbs Reply

    It was such a minefield – someone always got forgotten. I’m so glad those days are gone for a bit

  21. justsayingmum Reply

    Oh my word I need a lie down after reading this! Crazy isn’t it?! I don’t miss the chaos of parties – there was the time that we had invited all of my oldest’s class to a party in the garden in the hottest August on record and I was 8 months pregnant with my third – we thought that only a few would turn up as it was holiday season but oh no – all 28 four year olds got dropped at my house – parents left and because it was too hot for them to stay in the garden they all ran crazy round my house whilst I cried – I really did!! Never ever again. Oh well I did let my 15 year old have 70 for her birthday last year – that was an entirely different story and really it is never again!! One for tea sounds bliss my lovely! #CoolMumClub

  22. Jo (Mother of Teenagers) Reply

    Oh Sarah this brought back so many “happy” memories! Seriously though the party circuit is a big part of motherhood and is not for the faint-hearted. For both of mine there was an unspoken rule amongst the mums that parties should involve the whole class for the whole of the primary years so as not to upset anybody so we did our fair share of every big party going. Then along comes secondary school and everything shifts a gear and a big party is then 10 people and this seems to gradually diminish year by year and always involves an activity of some kind. Good luck with the 5th birthday – I actually secretly loved planning all my kids parties. #coolmumclub

  23. Peachy Reply

    Kids parties have certainly come a long way since I was invited to any. When I was a kid only the rich people had parties at a venue. Otherwise it would have been held at their house. We’re inbetween the age of parties now. Too old to be invited as a guest and Peachy is too young. She’s only 14 months. Seeing how fast time flies, it won’t be long now. #coolmumclub

  24. Sinéad (shinnersandthebrood.com) Reply

    Hah! You’ve nailed that list! We are all about low maintenance parental input. Soft play parties for the win, sweaty kids and rubbery nuggets ‘n’ all… #coolmumclub

  25. tinmccarthy Reply

    Ugh yes! We celebrate all four kids back..to back…to back

    and it takes every fiber in my being not to lose my shit
    every single year.

  26. rockandrosesmama Reply

    Haha I am one of those fateful few that actually prefer hosting parties myself! Im mad I know! But I have attended a few parties in public spaces, such as soft play its and they have been nightmares! Think the screaming kids room from Toy Story 3; kids being squashed, knocked over, pushed out of the way… total mess! SO… having a party n the confines of my own home and usually extending to the garden too with a cheeky BBQ and buffet and drinks galore! We invite all of our own friends as well as friends with kids so its a party for us too! #coolmumclub

  27. Autumn's Mummy Reply

    I have all this to come in a few years – I don’t think I’m ready for all the stress and screaming! #CoolMumClub

  28. alisonlonghurst Reply

    Bloody hell! Isn’t life complicated now?! Seriously. It’s enough to put you off having more than two children – if you were that way inclined. My teenagers go to less parties now than they ever used to, thank God. This post really covered every angle brilliantly. Alison x #coolmumclub

  29. Amina Reply

    I’ve got all this to look forward to once my daughter starts school and I’m dreading it. I’m a teacher so often have to hand these invitations out t school or watch children handing them out and feel so sorry for the disappointed faces.

    Amina xx | http://www.AliandHer.com #collmumclub

  30. thishappenedtometoday Reply

    This is a minefield, whichever way you can’t win. Too big or too small! Last years 4-yr-old birthday nearly sent me over the edge! #coolmumclub

  31. Confessions of a working mum Reply

    I’m so looking forward to the day we get invited to a hall party spectacular! And a house party – why just why? x #coolmumsclub

  32. New Mummy Blog Reply

    Oh what a conundrum! I think we’re starting to experience some of these, and will play it small for the next few years… those 5 year old school parties sound like a whole other ball game. Fab post Mrs xx
    #coolmumclub

  33. Alana - Burnished Chaos Reply

    When my son was between 2-5 we seemed to be at a party every weekend. When he was 6 they started to calm down and kids were having much smaller parties with just a few friends so the number of invites dropped off and last year we had maybe five the whole year, so things do improve. Having not had one to go to for months now we have been invited to a family one at a soft play centre after school next week and I agreed to attend, but now I’ve discovered it also happens to be the school disco that night and despite not wanting to go to the last three my son really wants to go to this one. With hubby away that means a very mad dash between parties, missing the end of one and the start of the other with a toddler who is going to scream blue murder at having to leave the soft play and not be allowed into the disco. Wish me luck x
    #Coolmumclub

    1. MMT Reply

      Ha ha that kind of mad dashing with toddler in tow sounds very familiar – be strong my friend 😉

  34. Winnettes Reply

    We have a party coming up and it has been made clear her little sister can’t come. I don’t mind at all, I think it will give me more time to catch up with the parents I know without needing to watch 2 kids. I’m not sure I would leave them either yet. Good luck with the party.
    #coolmumclub

  35. five little doves Reply

    Haha yes! All of this! My kids have more parties to go to than I ever do, we have one this Saturday night actually which is ridiculous! We always have the “should I stay or should I go?” dilemma, unfortunately I think at this age it’s expected we stay. Ugghhh! #coolmumclub

  36. mommyandrory Reply

    I keep seeing posts like this pop up about children’s parties. With Rory turning 1 next week were a way of proper parties yet but I can’t say I’m looking forward to it! #coolmumclub

  37. thealohamummy Reply

    1St birthday is the only one I’d have for a home birthday party!!! All others I would happily pay for someone else to tidy up! #coolmumclub

  38. Naptime Natter Wendy Reply

    Leo will be 4 this year, up until now we’ve just done small parties at home..I know that’s not going to be possible this year as he is friends with so many people at pre school. I like the sound of the hall with a bar for the parents!! Good luck planning your next party, it all sounds so stressful!xx #coolmumclub

  39. Helena Reply

    Oooh I can see I’ve got a lot to learn regards kids parties. #coolmumclub

  40. Digital Motherhood Reply

    I feel your pain! I only hae one child but some weekends all we do is go to kids birthday parties! #coolmumclub

  41. Janine Woods Reply

    All the parties my kids have been to have been at soft play except for one which was at their house and yes I do stay but my son insists I do. He’s not very sociable (he’s on the autistic spectrum) so although I have to stay at parties where I don’t know anyone and am quite socially awkward myself, it means I get out of throwing parties because my son would find it overwhelming anyway. I can’t believe the amount of money peope spend on parties these days though. It seems insane to me. I’m so glad I don’t habe that pressure to do it lol. Although my daughter is three now and about to start pre-school so I guess thats all about to change *sigh*

    Thanks for hosting #coolmumclub

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