Between the age of 3 and 6 the question arises: Is the family invited to this birthday party or is it just kids?
Leaving a child at a drop off Birthday Party is a milestone, and one that’s overlooked until it sneaks up and it’s HERE. Where you sit in your car outside the birthday party unsure of what to do and what your role is? Are you invited or just your kid? If you stay are you an inconvenience? What if I leave and she misses me? Or something happens in a house she’s unfamiliar? What if they say to go but really the host needs the help? What if….???
Deep Breath. You can leave your child and you should. It’s a rite of passage for both of you.
Here are some tips to make the Solo Birthday Party Milestone a little easier on you (or both of you!!):
By reaching out in advance you know what to plan for, gives you a quiet moment to chat with the host parent to get comfortable about the game plan and address any potential issues. For example, my child has a nut allergy, and by calling ahead I can let the parents know that detail so they can put the peanut butter chocolate cake idea on hold. The busy front door of a party is not the place to translate important messages.
Does it freak you out to drop a child at a home you don’t know? This will be become a reality once preschool or kindergarten starts. Face it head on and get to know that family. Prior to the birthday party, invite that child (and her mom?) over for playdate to get to know the child and begin to get to know the family. You’ll feel better and you’ll calmly be able to let your child go at the party (promise, you can do this!).
Water & Feed your child before
Drop off a kid with a mostly full tummy to keep him even keeled, in good humour and happier. That way if he’s distracted by the general merriment and forgets to eat he’s less likely to crash. Also, take your child to the bathroom at the beginning of the party, show them where the bathroom is so he can find it quickly should the need call.
Prep your kid
If it’s your child’s first birthday party, go over the routine with your child. This is not a one-on-one playdate and they don’t have full reign of their playmate’s house today. Rules exist on party day that may not be there other play days – help him navigate those ‘rules’ ahead of time.
Bring your number
Want to be reachable? Bring a note with your phone numbers on it so you can reached (remember your cell if you are going to take those 2 precious hours to run errands). Hosts are so bombarded at the front door, even the most well-intentioned will forget to get a list of numbers from parents the day of the party. Make it easy and leave yours.
Say goodbye & GO!
If you want to linger with other parents, do it on the driveway! Don’t confuse your kid by kissing goodbye then hanging around forever. Also don’t mess with the schedule your host has set – likely she has laid out the 2 hours into party increments and the longer she has to politely talk to you at the front door the more drawn out the party will be at the end.
This applies for pick-up too. Have you seen a host parent at the end of a birthday party? She is exhausted. She wants the noise and sugar high kids out of her house now, so be polite and skedaddle!
Don’t dress kids in their finest
I’m as bad as the next mom who saves the fussy (and expensive!) clothes for “good”. A birthday party shouldn’t be considered “good”. Solo partiers are on their own to protect that “good “ Gymboree outfit from brilliant blue mermaid icing – the birthday parents are way too busy wiping up spilled apple juice to notice impending drippy icing or strawberry stains. Go second best on party days.
Make it Fun!
Birthdays are fun and memorable childhood experiences – enjoy them! Enjoy picking out a gift with your child and making a card for the birthday child. Have fun hosting one for your own for your child because now that you’ve entered the birthday party circuit your kid will ask for a party too!
What age are you comfortable with leaving your child at a Birthday Party? How have you handled the drop-off party?