The phenomenon that is a kids’ party can inspire excitement and dread in equal measure. If your kids have just started school or they come home with an invite to a birthday party, they can pile up, which means that there’s not just the pressure of getting a birthday card but also getting a gift or giving money. A lot of people find it hard to get a gift that’s within budget, but there’s also a number of other things that can fill a lot of parents with anxiety. So let’s break it down for you and show you everything you need to know about attending kids’ parties.
Should You Buy a Gift?
It is almost an unwritten rule that you need to take a gift. The biggest problem with this is that there’s a lot of gifts out there so which one is the right one? We also need to bear in mind that they can be very costly and if your child is in a class of, for example, 20 kids, this means that if every child has a birthday party and you spend £10 on each gift this adds up to £190! What you need to do here is to set yourself a very strict budget and start delving online so you can buy birthday cards in bulk but also find appropriate gifts that don’t cost the earth.
It’s very tough to do but because most of us don’t buy a gift until the last minute we can play the odds here. By buying things in bulk online that are very generic boys’ or girls’ toys you are playing the odds but also saving money at the same time. The other approach is, of course, to do the money in a card option, but the major issue here is that you are instantly putting a value on the gift.
Check If a Sibling Can Attend
If you have other children you can’t make the assumption that they can tag along. Lots of times we have to make a decision as to whether our child can go because it’s at an awkward time or we’re not able to split the parenting duties appropriately. The best thing you can do here is to check if you can bring along the sibling. They may very well say it’s okay, but only because they feel obliged to say yes.
When you are asking if it’s okay to bring a sibling along it’s worth pointing out that you understand that it could cost a bit more money to put out some party food, and you are more than happy to make sure that child is fed beforehand or you can bring food. Depending on the party itself it’s very likely they will have party food spare. There are going to be times when they don’t know if they will have enough spare and because the invitation is for one child it’s important to make sure that you’re not coming across as rude by just bringing a sibling.
Sometimes we can go to a party with our child and then see that their classmates have their siblings in attendance as well but we can’t make the assumption that it is always okay. Make sure the hosts don’t feel pressured into saying yes.
Navigating Cliquey Parents
A birthday party can be a wonderful experience for the child but can also be a lonely experience for the parent. If there’s a party at a play centre with many dispersed tables it can be easy to spot who the cliques are and if you then attempt to get involved in a conversation but you feel like you’re being shut down don’t worry, this is incredibly normal! You are there for your child and of course, for the person whose birthday it is so it’s all about being polite but just focusing on your child.
You will find that there’s many other parents who feel exactly the same way as you. We can easily overthink things here and believe that there’s no room for cliquiness or believe that the parents are worse than the kids. These are all completely normal thoughts and unfortunately, it can be par for the course. The reality is that some parents band together because they already know each other, for example, the children may have gone to baby clubs and therefore they’ve built up a relationship over a couple of years. There’s no point in competing with this either and not letting it loom large in your mind.
Ultimately, children at primary school age won’t be at primary school for long! And if you remember moving from primary school to secondary school you might have ended up leaving a lot of your friends behind so if you encounter parents at the school gates and parties who may say hello to you once but then not acknowledge you ever again don’t pay them any mind!
Conflict Will Happen
If you haven’t been to children’s birthday parties since they were a child it might not come as a surprise to find that there is a lot of noise! It can be quite surprising just how much noise there is but also you might be taken aback to see how your child is with their school friends. You might find that they are a bit more vivacious or even challenging in terms of their behaviours. And this can be tough to deal with, especially if you feel self-conscious that your child is being a lot more challenging than other children.
As parents, we can feel judged by others in these environments because we feel like we are being put on display as much as our children are. What we have to remember at this point is that your child is learning to be themselves and they will pretty much forget that you were even there and this can mean that you may see things that they don’t do at home.
Likewise, you may find that there’s children who rub each other up the wrong way and this can result in conflicts or even fights, even at a very young age! Sometimes you may see another child who is just being too boisterous or acting the bully and the other parent is there but not doing anything about it instead opting to speak with other mothers. The best thing to do here is to have a mature head on your shoulders and make sure that this doesn’t descend into a “he started it” or “she started it” argument. 9 times out of 10, you can alert the other parent to what is going on and they will discipline their child, but it’s also important to remember the children will be children, and as much as we don’t like to see our kids getting involved in scuffles or some form of conflict it is a part of life.
Don’t Forget to Be Grateful
We can be tired because we’ve not slept properly the night before and we can be overwhelmed with all of the noise but we have to remember that we should thank the parents who have gone to all this effort. There’s many parents who turn up and don’t even acknowledge the host and opt to go to their cliques right away. The best thing we can do, especially for the sake of our children is to lead by example here and be grateful and polite rather than just turning up and letting our kids take the cake and run!
It can be a lot to deal with from your perspective but attending children’s parties is ultimately about the children having fun!