Well it's that time of year again for us, birthday party season! A time of dread, stress and competition among parents.
Our little girl will be 4 at the end of February and we are trying to plan the big day, since being back at work I have felt extremely guilty, and like a lot of working parents I plan to make up for it come birthday time. However for some parents, stay at home and working, parties are the ultimate competition.
Our party season starts in October and every month after that until June there is at least one party every month, more now she attends a more close-knit nursery where she has made lots of new friends. That first party sets the standard and there are three major elements to consider; entertainment, party bags and the cake.
I have found that every year there seems to be a theme, last year all the kids had playcenter parties and this year it's bouncy castles. With every party we go to you can see the parents huddled in groups obviously rating the party, you may as well give them score cards to hold up. Suddenly these kids parties aren't about how much fun the child's having and become more about getting one over on the other parents.
For my daughter I have followed neither of these trends, because a.) I didn't feel that the playcenters were very good value for money and b.) my daughter is not a huge fan of bouncy castles. Last year we opted for a magician instead and our daughter and all the kids loved it, it was something different and he kept them all engaged throughout the hour. This year we are going for an entertainer again, we have chosen to have a Kinder Musik party. I first came across this entertainer at another child's party and I thought it was just absolutely amazing, all the kids were kept entertained and engaged and I just thought it was something different. I have also chosen to have someone else make my daughters cake, now I know by doing this I am breaking the absolute law of Mummihood but the way I see it is I would rather spend the day before my daughter's birthday spending quality time with her than stressing in a cloud of flour and icing sugar. However I do know that points for effort will be deducted by the parent panel.
Parents are at their most anxious when the lights go down and cake it presented to the child, you can usually hear a gaggle of 'ooo' and 'look at that' coming from the crowds at the back as the parents take in the cake. But it doesn't stop there you can't simply judge this part of the competition solely on appearance, so at the end of the party when the children are waiting in anticipation for the all important party bag so are the parents. It's a race as to who can get there first to try the cake, if the child win's you have no chance unless the event manager (which is what a parent becomes at their child's party) offers you any left over cake to take home. If the event manager is clever they will always have left overs for the eagerly awaiting parents, just so there is one less thing to get marked down on and in fact they may even earn extra points by doing this. The cake of course is not the only important thing about the party bag, there is the goodies to consider as well. The most common of mistakes made when it comes to party bags is lollipops. In my experience I would never put a lollipop in a party bag, the moment you see the child's face light up and they pull out the lollipop there is an audible intake of breath, the same goes for chewy sweets in wrappers such as Chewits. Keep your party bag simple and don't over do it on the plastic junk.
This party envy that so many parents have just baffles me, I think that your child's birthday party is about them and only them. It should be something they will enjoy whether that be a tea party at home or an all singing all dancing event. I just can't get on board with these up tight parents that turn everything into a competition, I am so laid back that it all seems like too much hard work to me. I am going a little OTT for my daughter's birthday this year, but it has nothing to do with pleasing the judges it's about wanting my child to have the best possible day and making up for not spending as much time as I would really like to with her. When it comes to her birthday I just can't say no, we aren't the type of parents who spoil our children, they don't get presents for no reason so when it come to birthdays and Christmas we do tend to go a little mad.
I will most definitely be posting a review of the Kinder Musik entertainer so make sure you keep a look out at the end of February.