At Home Mums' Blog

Take a light hearted look at the issues faced by mums home with the kids. Read some personal views on the challenges of raising children today, and the pressures mums face. My website - www.athomemums.com - has some more serious and hopefully useful stuff on all these topics. I'd love to get your comments and advice. If anyone out there can help this mum maintain her sanity, it would be much appreciated!

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Saturday, 11 July 2009

The 5th Birthday Party

It is Holly's 5th birthday on Thursday, so today we wrapped her presents. And when I say we, I mean Holly and me. I did suggest I ought to wrap them without her, so they'd be a surprise, but no, that's not the way this birthday is going. It is Holly's birthday, and Holly is in charge. So if Holly says she'll wrap the presents, then who am I to complain? After all it saves it being a last minute event the night before the big day. She's going to hide them as well.

I have managed to keep back a few things so there'll be some real surprises on the day, but it's obviously not important. What seems to be most important is that this is her day, and it needs to be done her way.

I have suggested numerous party games, describing them in elaborate detail, making them sound as appealing as possible, but although some have been given a 'Oh that sounds good', it's generally followed by a , 'but I don't want that at my party.'

Pass the Parcel was always first on the list, and I've been allowed to add a Treasure Hunt and Musical Numbers. Any games with lots of prizes were the winners, but nowadays where everyone has to get something from the parcel and each child is supposed to end up with a prize, this could get expensive.

I raided the local 2 dollar shop and ended up with a bucket full of prizes, most of which Holly put in the party bags. It took me 3 days to persuade her that if we didn't leave some things out, there would be no pass the parcel and no prizes for any other game. And no, I wasn't going back for another bucket full.

The other issue is numbers. This started as a relatively small, civilised party, but then Holly came home from pre-school and announced she'd invited 7 other girls from her class. Now I guess if I'd said up front that 10 would be the absolute maximum, I could have enforced it, but I made the mistake of assuming that because Holly only ever talks about one girl at pre-school and her friends the neighbours, that we were quite safe. Our little girl is not an outgoing party animal. How was I to know she'd turn into a social butterfly once the party was announced?

I've got no idea how 4 and 5 year olds work. If I didn't follow up these 7 extras, would they remember? Would Holly be ostracised for un-inviting these guests? We have worried slightly that Holly hasn't got many friends and is quiet and 'shy' in social situations, so this sudden onslaught of friends has to be embraced, doesn't it?

So, with siblings who have to be included, because I've chosen a Thursday afternoon so hubbies aren't home to watch them, we are now up to 20. I am hoping for a sunny day, or if it rains, a sudden bout of swine flu. If I remove a large amount of furniture, our house can accommodate the kids and the mums who will generally decide to stay, so long as no-one eats too much sugar and decides to run a muck.

Let's face it, it is going to be chaos. I think if I accept that up front, my sanity may just remain in tact. We went to our neighbour's house a few weeks ago for another 5 year old party, and this one had even more children and adults there. The mum was fantastic, but she was definitely stressed. And the alcohol came out before the last guests had departed. On this note, I have decided to get the alcohol out up front. For the mums that is. Hopefully at least one or two of them can have a relaxing glass and a chat while I deal with the party games. I'll make sure my receovery supply is available post party.

So why do we mums put ourselves through this? For me, I think the primary driver is giving Holly a good time, but there is definitely an element of living up to the competition. I am lucky that Holly doesn't want anything too fancy, so apart from the excessive amount of prizes, we haven't had to spend out on entertainers or bouncy castles or kindy farms. Also, she's happy with a basic round cake, so long as it's covered in loads of icing, marsh mallows and smarties. I was a bit worried after we saw an amazing pirate ship cake at last week's party, but I'm still safe on that one.

But, if the kids don't have fun, I can't blame the entertainer or the caterer, so the pressure's on to perform.

I used to think that having a party at a play centre was an expensive cop out. I am now convinced that it would be no more expensive, and it's a guilt free cop out. After all, the objective is for the birthday girl and her friends to have fun. Unfortunatley this party girl wanted her party at home again this year and before the party expansion happened, I was happy to encourage this. Home is her territory and she is most relaxed here and most likely to have fun. Still, I am expecting at least one major tantrum (whether it's mine or Holly's is yet to be determined) and I fear I should be playing 'It's my party and I'll cry if I want to'...

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