Since starting her Lower Foundation years at school in September, my Girl has been invited to a number of parties over the last few months. It appears that every other Saturday or Sunday, off we trot to another party where
we I eat too many Wotsits, sink into too many ball pools, steal mini sausages from plates and eat too many pieces of cake that don’t belong to me.
Being the regular party goer that I am, I thought I would share with you my insight on how to rock children’s parties…and then show you how I do it.
Here we go then. Hope you learn something!
Do make sure you are fully prepared and organised by buying a present, a card and wrapping paper in good time for the party. After all, most parents plan and prepare their child’s party a good month or so before and send the invites out weeks in advance, thus giving you ages to buy and wrap a present. The majority of parents make, create or buy the most lovely invites, sprinkle them in glitter and place them neatly into your child’s school bag for you to find when they return home from school. (Or four days after they return home from school when you accidently drop the bag.) This is extremely good planning and something that I really should learn from. For my daughter’s fourth (third and second) party, her invites were send via Facebook Messenger with the closing sentence reading: ‘By the way, there won’t be an invite through the post. This is it. Sorry, I’m just really busy.’ You can liken my organisational skills to a T-Rex playing Basketball (crap), but knowing that I am saving the rainforests makes my parenting halo slip only a little.
Don’t drop your daughter off at her 9am ballet class on the morning of the party, make a mad dash to B&M Bargains to buy a present, card and wrapping paper. You may think that this is not such a bad thing to do and it’s not. However, knowing that your daughter’s ballet lesson is only forty five minutes long and the closest B&M is a ten minute drive away ensures that your visit must be a swift one. Therefore, pushing your one year old son up and down the aisles (in a pushchair that takes at least three minutes to assemble) looking for bargains is not conducive to successful present buying. Don’t, once you have your present placed safely in your basket (that also contains two tubs of Lucky Charms cereal and a packet of Smartie Mini-Eggs that are all for your consumption), spot two huge canvases that you think will look awesome somewhere in your house and attempt to place them in your basket. By this time, your daughter’s ballet lesson has less than twenty minutes to go, so you definitely shouldn’t attempt to push your son, carry a basket and two canvases towards the check out and then stop to ask a shop assistant if they sell carpet cleaner only to find out that she is new and insists on finding it for you. And, after she does find it, she then insists on carrying it to the tills for you while you follow behind with your son, a basket and two massive canvases. However, if like me, this is how you do insist on buying your birthday presents, then make sure you ask the woman behind you at the till, who is clearly buying presents for a birthday party (card, paper and Monster High Doll), to carry the two canvases out to your car while you run quickly towards your car trying to dismantle the pushchair as you go.
Disclaimer proving that I am not a bad parent: I made it back in time to collect my girl from ballet. A problem arose though when we realised she couldn’t fit in the car due to there being two pointless (and yet awesome) purchases sitting in her booster seat.
Do make sure you know whether there is a theme to the birthday party your child has been invited to. In order to be successful at this, all you have to do is read the invite.
Don’t fist bump and shout ‘YES!’ after realising that you have, in fact, coincidently happened to buy a superhero themed present and wrapping paper (okay, so not the card, but two out of three ain’t bad) for a party that you had no idea had a theme. You vaguely recall images on the invite, but your focus was on the time, date and venue because, as a busy mum, you deal ONLY IN FACTS.
Disclaimer acknowledging that I know when I have been lucky: *Does another fist pump and shouts ‘Yes!’* because the birthday boy was wearing a Spiderman costume at his party and the present I bought was The Avengers (At least it was Marvel) and the wrapping paper was good ol’ Spidey.
Do ensure that you know beforehand if the party requires fancy dress. Recently, my girl has gone to parties dressed as a princess, a pirate and…erm a Muggle at an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ themed party she attended only a few weeks back. Muggles WERE in ‘Alice in Wonderland’ you know! I am an English Teacher after all – I know my Lit.
Don’t be the one parent who has to send texts like this to your other half mid party:
Do wrap your present, write your card and leave it in a suitable place (preferably near your exit) so that you don’t forget to grab the present before you leave in good time to go to the party.
Don’t leave everything to the last minute, do a mad dash to the car and drive off without your ‘Sat Nav’…and the present. Thus resulting in texts like this:
Yes, this particular party was in another city, therefore any organised parent would have had the ‘Sat Nav’ in the car beforehand with the postcode already typed in and ready to go. This would have prevented my having to stop a young bearded hipster, who was walking in the middle of an estate in Leeds, to ask him where MonsterKidz was. Then, after being amazed and possibly quite alarmed that he knew where all the soft plays were in North Leeds, upon our late arrival try to park as close to the entrance as possible which resulted in reversing into a wall when we found that there was, in fact, no parking right outside the entrance.
Do make sure you make the time to talk to, mingle with and become friends with the other parents at the party your child has been invited to. After all, these are the parents who you will, no doubt, bump into time and time again at various other superhero, pirate and other themed birthday parties. These parents might even become your ‘Mum Friends’, the ones you are so desperately in need of because you are not living in a town near your actual proper friends from home. Yes, ‘Mum Friends’ are precious as they will be your rock as your child enters school for the first time this coming September.
Don’t be the only parent who doesn’t know anyone at the party and rather than rectify that by being sociable, chooses to isolate herself completely by pulling out twenty Year 8 books that need marking. Don’t be the one parent who goes onto ignore the hired Magician pulling a rabbit out of his hat, the hired adult woman dressed as Alice lost in Wonderland or the only parent who doesn’t chase their child into the soft play because you couldn’t put your red pen down as (and I may have mentioned this before) you’re busy. Making ‘Mum Friends’ should be a priority, after all, everyone needs a kindred spirit to guide and support them through this ‘adventure’ we call parenting, BUT where else are you going to get two hours, a chair, a cup of tea, an endless supply of sausage rolls, ham sandwiches, chocolate fingers, buns and a person employed to entertain your child? Yes, the red pen came out and all the books got marked.
Disclaimer that I am not miserable and unfriendly and would actually love a few more ‘Mum Friends’: No, I am actually pretty sociable, polite (I thanked the Magician and told him he was good) and nice, but any (busy!!) Teaching Mum will tell you – if you find some time to mark then you mark.
Do allow your child to play with and eat the contents of their party bag when they arrive home from the party.
Don’t put your children to bed, open a bottle of Prosecco, write a ‘hilarious’ blog post and eat the cake in the party bag…
If only I had made the time to make some ‘Mum Friends’ and perhaps I too would be out at a party instead of peeling and eating the icing from a Spiderman cake.