Written by Sarah Lloyd | Mumbie Tales
It’s your birthday, Mummy’s gonna party like it’s your birthday…
I have come to the conclusion that birthday parties before the age of talking competently and walking competently are really more for the parents. Cunningly disguised as ‘this is what my kid loves doing’… in that ‘Pushy Mummy’ appears and goes into organising get-togethers mode.
- “I KNOW!”… let’s totally overwhelm our little one who turns 2yrs old by
- booking a gym (or church hall, softplay or somewhere just big)
- buy a shit load of presents (that it takes them a week to open)
- invite lots of kids bloody loads of them – remember to include different friendship groups in the same location or your mates kids who your kids are scared of / don’t know / never met
- throw in a crazy entertainer type (gym instructor / Elsa lookalike / mad music lady)
- amazing goody bags with crappy plastic toys in
- spend the equivalent amount of money it would cost to buy a REALLY nice pair of red souled shoes (you know the ones)
…and there you have it recipe for total carnage – and I’m GUILTY as charged.
When our eldest turned 1, we kept it fairly low key by having a little party at home with cousins and grandparents. This was fab as we mainly just lounged about my Mum’s place drinking Prosecco, trying to force feed the 4 children that turned up jam sandwiches, organix snacks and French Fancy’s (coz who doesn’t love a French fancy).
When it came to pass the parcel – yes you got it – the parents where the most competitive – and pretty funny watching the mums and dads scratching around and getting chuffed with the bath toys all 4 of kiddies got. Of course – the kiddies themselves didn’t give a monkeys and where much happier being left alone to play in the ball pit, press the buttons on the DVD player or hanging off the stairgate.
When the eldest turned 2, I am ashamed to admit that I got competitive and wanted to throw a big party for my first born. The one we had been waiting for, the one we took nearly two years to conceive. She was having THE best I could afford (see above checklist) plus it was that overcompensating thing again – I was pregnant and about to drop with bubba no.2 so was probably feeling stupidly guilty!
So we hired the gym that she was going to each Saturday… invited her mates, bought shit loads of M&S sandwiches, cocktail sausages and fruit (I kid you not – I totally over did it we had sandwiches for days after). They did a fab job theming everything around Peppa Pig – lots of jumping in imaginary muddy puddles, snorting and chucking the kids on crashmats. She should have been as happy as pigs in shit. In fact when we went to one of her buddies parties in the same location doing the same thing she bloody loved it.
Of course… and looking back now… predictably it blew her frigging mind. The party girl turned party pooper as she spent most of her birthday party crying in the hallway with me (I remember doing it myself once… being sensitive must run in the family LOL). Not one to completely love being out of her comfort zone, I think I overlooked the one thing when planning the party – her hating being thrust into the centre of attention without her having any say. I thought that having everyone she cared about in a place she liked would be the perfect solution. In fact I think it downright confused her, Grandparents, cousins, nursery and gym buddies all in one place. I watched her head literally pop off.
Here I was expecting a 2yr old to behave like a 10yr old, and Mummy should have listened and known better!
Still everything with parenting is a learning curve right? And since then you see increasingly more lavish parties being thrown (I heard about on 8yr old I know wanting a limo to go to the local bowling… I mean seriously… ), where the little people the day is supposed to be about, get dragged around by a parachute, or scared shitless by an adult in a scary costume or trampled by a group of 10yr olds on a trampoline. So I asked myself, how come it all got so OTT? Isn’t it right that before the age of possibly 4 / 5 they really don’t have any ‘friends’ it’s all about parallel play and not sharing? (i.e. screaming fits, tears and just stress all round…sigh). And what did I do when I was 3?
So this year, I decided to take a trip down memory lane, put ‘Pushy mummy’ back in her Box and we went back to the 80’s for her birthday party.
This time we held it at our house. It was at Halloween so the birthday girl got excited by helped me decorate the house, blow up (and pop) the balloons. We had a good old fashioned ‘spread’ of jam sandwiches, quavers and jelly. Fancy dress was optional for everyone though the kiddies got into the spirit of things. We played musical statues, pass the parcel and decorated Halloween masks. We kept it to the kiddies and mums, and limited the amount of chocolate in goody bags (seriously too much and we all go into hyperdrive in our house – normally culminating in a ‘naked’ toddler doing laps around the house). I even made a cake from ‘scratch’… and didn’t poison anyone.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a party without a little bit of fizz for the adults, and I even got dressed up as the ‘witch lady’ to try and keep to theme. Luckily all this was a total hit with my eldest and it was a joy to see her loving every minute of musical statues and playing with her buddies.
I am certainly not dismissing parties held at softplays, gyms and church halls – weirdly my kid is fine at other people’s parties and she loves them! I guess when it comes to your little one and their day, you just have to do what works for you and your wallet.
As I am still learning, and I am sure there are other mums about to start planning their little darlings 2nd, 3rd, 4th birthday parties… I guess ask yourself this –
- Is he or she likely to remember the horsedrawn carriage?
- Do I really need to invite every 2 yr old we know in a square mile radius?
- Does he/she actually like bouncy castles?
- What does she / he actually want to do…?!
And go from there.
Meanwhile Pushy Mummy will just stick to the day job… LOL!
Written by Sarah Lloyd | MumbieTales
Website | Mumbie Tales
Twitter | @curlsarah