The other day I found myself having a bit of a rant about children’s parties: “I can’t believe the pressure on school age children to have these over-the-top parties, they cost parents a fortune and so much stress! I won’t succumb to this modern tradition. What’s wrong with a few close, well-behaved friends over to our house for some jelly & ice cream and pass the parcel? Why do you HAVE to invite the whole class including the slightly rabid boy who kicks; book the entire germ infested soft play area and pay for everyone’s soggy food, rubbish party bags and greasy face paints?” Etc etc.
It’s my daughter’s 3rd birthday soon. The first time she really understands what a birthday is, what a party is, who friends are and how much cake she can have.
I started by saying it would be nice to take her swimming as a family. We haven’t been swimming with her for ages and we live near a really lovely swimming pool which has a dip n’ dine deal. Great.
Our friends live near to the pool with their two children, so we might as well ask if they will be up for it too: it would be a good get-together and makes it seem more ‘birthday-ish’ to have a couple more children there.
Ok, so swimming with a meal after and two friends. Great.
I check on the pool website to see what the deal is with prices and times: “We also do children’s parties! Please contact us to enquire.” Well I might as well ask, it could work out cheaper, if not this year maybe next…
“Yes we do parties, including a swim, hot meal after and birthday cake, all for the same price as dip n’ dine!” Great. “You just need a minimum of 6 children”.
Well we’ve been meaning to meet up with Laura and her little girl for a while, so let’s invite them too. Lovely.
Oh and Isabelle always invites Tots to her birthday parties, so it will be nice to return the favour and we can meet her new brother!
I tell my husband. “Why don’t we invite our new neighbours,” he says. “They’ve got two children and it would be nice to get to know them more”. Good idea! My phone sounds with a text. My best friend Kate is asking how Babe is getting on at her swimming lessons? That’s a good point, I need to invite Kate’s little ones too, they love swimming…
I tell my mum. “Ahh lovely. Is Tots ‘boyfriend’ going too?” (Tots doesn’t have a boyfriend but her first playdate at 2 weeks old was with one of the babies from our antenatal class – the ‘boyfriend’ label has kind of stuck). “Yes!” …In which case I need to invite the rest of the NCT group too.
So that’s 15 invitations to send out. Ok.
I now need to order some invites.
I look online and find some Ben & Holly ones. Wow! I need to get those, Tots is obsessed with Ben& Holly! I order them, with matching party bags, cups, plates, napkin and a tablecloth. Am actually getting really excited myself now. She will love it!
Over the next few days, various Ebay packages arrive with party tableware and I use up two books of stamps sending out the invites.
It then hits me.
I’ve booked a proper kids birthday party. With 15 children. In a swimming pool.
I see an Instagram post by author and the editor of The Take, Aimee Horton. Aimee has sensibly planned a home pizza and watching a film party for her child.
Aimee has 3 years of mothering on me. She is wiser and more experienced.
Once again, I have been pulled into the traditional perils faced by a modern mother.
Once again I have got carried away.
But it’s not all bad: whilst searching for some glitter for the invitations, I found some favours left over from our wedding – mini bottles of gin. I guess the adults will have to have party bags too…