A Mum's Guide to School Birthday Parties
There are three things that will happen on a regular basis once your child starts school:
- The mundane school-run (which, however, can be made a wee bit entertaining with these common conversations)
- Dress-up days and bake days and 'my child is ill – again!' days (read this post to prepare yourself to become a 'proper' school-mum)
- and birthday parties!
Yes, 80 per cent of your weekends will pass by at a birthday party of one of your child's classmates (or even a schoolmate from another class as they all mingle during lunchtime). Mind you, these aren't the let-your-hair-down and up-the-booze kind of parties; they're more soft-plays and super-heroes and grown men and women parading around like various characters to entertain a bunch of over-excited kids. There's no wine to get you through this, but the coffee helps. There is an overload of sugar (cake and sweets and juice) and your child will be in hyper-active mode for the rest of the day. It's fun being a parent, isn't it?
Having been there, and continuing to go there (no, you CANNOT miss these parties because the little people talk. A lot. At school. And then make you feel like the world's worst parent for having missed one of them. Mum guilt is a real b*&%h!!!), and now quite a pro at it, I thought of compiling a 'Mum's guide to school birthday parties'. Just to get the newbies prepared…
1. The gifts
The amount of parties you attend is equivalent to the number of gifts you've got to buy – which is a hell of a lot!
Which means two things – you are constantly doing the rounds of toy shops (or last-minute ordering on Amazon Prime) and spending a lot of money.
I've now learnt a few tricks to keep this process stress-free and (relatively) economical:
- Buy gifts in bulk when the sales are on (Christmas is a great time to stock up) or when there are deals in-store. You know the average age of the child – just buy a couple of toys/ games/ books for both boys and girls. Then decide what to give depending on what the birthday boy/girl likes
- Recycle gifts. No, there's nothing wrong in doing this (as long as it's unopened and unused, of course). There is only so much space in your house and so many toys you can handle at one time (your child will have a different opinion, though, but let's not get into that), so keep some of your child's birthday/ Christmas gifts away. The ones they don't want or have something similar. And save it for another of those birthday parties!
- ALWAYS keep wrapping paper, gift tags and party bags (invest in some big ones too as most kids' gifts are huge) handy – make sure you never run out or you'll be making last-minute runs to the shops for them.
2. The return-gifts a.k.a party bags
Ok, I'm going to be blunt here, but most party bags are nothing more than cheap plastic crap! Whistles, bubbles, wobbly pens, paper models of planes etc etc etc. Now I've come to learn that it's not that the hosts are cheap and want to cut costs, it's just that the kids absolutely LOVE this shit! They look forward to the party bags and then dig into them with joy that is equivalent to us grown-ups winning a lottery – the only good part is that these act as a great distraction to get them to leave the party!
Oh, and there are also a lot of sweets and chocolates in the party bags, so the sugar high will continue well into the evening!
An honest tip: Fight the temptation to restrict these treats. Be a good mom another time. It will result in a FULL-BLOWN tantrum because your child is now a deadly combination of over-tired, over-excited and over-loaded on sugar already.
3. The cake
Something new I have learned attending these big class birthday parties is that although the cake is cut at the party, you (or the kids) rarely get to eat it there. The cake is cut, then taken away and placed inside those party bags to be eaten at home (or in the car, depending on your child's mood). Guess that gives the kids more time to run around and play…
4. The event
- These parties are usually 'themed' (super-hero/ sports/ disco/ magician) so pay attention to the invite for the dress code. You don't want to be the mum whose kid turned up in formal clothes when the rest of the class trapezed around in Batman masks and Superman capes.
- If it's an afternoon party, give your child a snack or even a light lunch beforehand. Because the food will only be served an hour into the party, after the games and entertainment, by which time your child will likely be whining/ hangry or will then be munching on the biscuits meant for the parents. Besides, kids hardly eat at birthday parties, they're too excited and just want to play, so make sure their tummies are full beforehand.
- There will be tea/ coffee and some biscuits and nibbles for the parents – drink up mommas, you will need the caffeine boost. Besides, it's a nice opportunity to catch up with other school mums over a cuppa and amidst loud music and screaming kids. Hadn't I mentioned parenting is fun?!
And when it's time to host your own, here's a post I wrote to help you through the process – or not!
How to host the perfect children's birthday party
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