I never thought I’d dread something as much as I dread these. Okay, maybe I don’t dread them that much, especially if there is alcohol there (not sure who was the first one to think of having alcohol for adults at a kid’s party, but God bless them). I even dread my own kids parties. There is so much to think about.
Who to invite? In preschool, it was much easier. Smaller classes meant that you can invite everyone and their cousins and still be under 20 kids. Now that my eldest is in kindergarten, we have to figure out who they REALLY want to come because of the 20-25 kid amount. If I don’t hear about a kid named Jonny at all from school, Jonny ain’t invited. I mean, come on. And now that they are older, I can explain to them that they can’t talk about the party at school because we don’t want anyone (like poor Jonny) who isn’t invited feel left out. But we CAN do it. We also came across our first party that was scheduled on the same day but the kid wasn’t invited to ours and we were invited to theirs. Not sure how many kids in the kindergarten class were invited to both (the other guest list was hidden by the parents), but whatever. Not my problem.
Where to have it? If you have it at the house, especially at older ages, they might get “bored” because now they know what that word means. I don’t want to have to clean my house, either, for it just to be destroyed again. So if we have it out somewhere, you have to find a place that is within budget, someplace fun, and it has to be available on a reasonable day. (What is up with weeknight parties?) Luckily, our kids have been easy so far, and although they’ve wanted to have it at the more expensive trampoline places, we were able to convince one to have a joint party and had the tumblebus come to us (MUCH cheaper) and the other at a local children’s museum which is reasonably priced and you can bring in your own food (okay, so maybe this is our second round of birthday party at this museum, but I’m not complaining at all).
Do you have a family get together too? It was much easier for their first, second and third birthdays. We could have family and invite a few friends (of OUR choosing, not the kids) and call it a day. We didn’t have to have anything extravagant to do given that the kids were barely mobile or easily excited. But now, the question of having ANOTHER birthday party beyond the kid party, albeit small, weighs heavily. My husband is all about it, and I, on the other hand, am okay without it. Yes, it’s time to spend with family, but my family is never around, and it’s just a lot of extra work for us. We can order pizzas and get a supermarket cake and not really clean our house because family doesn’t care, but I had to clean up after our last family get together, and I was only 3 weeks postpartum. I wasn’t physically in pain or anything, but I was exhausted after being up all night with the baby, and the last thing I wanted to do was wipe up cake icing off the floor and putting away all of the dishes and leftovers. I don’t want my kids to expect this to happen all the time, either. They should be happy with one party, whatever that party should be.
Dragging my tired ass to a party for another kid is hard, too. I know my kids are happy to spend time with their friends, which is what usually drives me to get up off of the couch to go. But otherwise, it’s a challenge. Making small talk isn’t terrible, but the screaming kids and sugar high that results is not always fun. And deciding whether or not to go is another one. We’ve had to make cancellations last minute due to sickness on more than one occasion, but if we have another thing going on at the same time like sports or karate, the balance is delicate. We’ve arrived late, left early or made our kids choose between the party and the scheduled sport. We’ve also gotten to the point where we can drop off our older one at the party sometimes and it’s glorious. To have those extra 2 hours to relax is amazing, but again, a delicate balance to decide if you can leave the kid or not. If there is ever a question of it, you have to assume you will need to stand around while the kids play.
I wish there was a way that we didn’t have to hype up parties so much. I know at some point in their lives they won’t want as much fanfare because it won’t be the “cool” thing to do. But if someone tells me that I should enjoy these days and parties while I can, I will scream my head off. I will suck it up because for every time I have my kids go to another kid’s party, I know that some other kid’s parent will have to suck it up and come to ours. I guess we’re even then.