I’m struggling with current kid party etiquette. Why do most parents treat kids parties as a parents social? Controversial opinion I know, but hear me out ..

My eldest is 22, when she was little everyone dropped and left, most people valuing a bit of time to themselves.  I do remember a mum hanging about once to police what her little darling ate.  The poor kid wasn’t allowed anything sweet and was only allowed to drink water.  The mum didn’t talk to me, offer to help or anything remotely useful, she just sat stony faced at the edge of the room.

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The term ‘helicopter parent’ is new to me, along with ‘attachment parenting’. If I am to be defined by an extreme style then I would prefer to fall into the ‘free-range’ parent category, e.g., allow my kids a degree of freedom, to have solo experiences and learn from them. Some would consider this approach neglectful.  I ask myself what it is that parents are so scared of today that makes them reluctant to leave their kids side? But I don’t think this is a fear based phenomenon.  The parents at my kids school are a sociable lot, they enjoy an opportunity to get together and grab those moments when they can.  This I understand, however it can make life tricky for the host.

I have hosted at home a few times now,  other parents think I’m mad or brave (and they openly tell me so).  Only one was a bit odd about it, asking me for my adult child ratio.  Primarily my motivation for a homemade party at home is to save on cost, let us not underestimate how much a whole class party can set you back,  I’ve done it before and it can easily approach 500 quid.   Myself and husband have spent a lot of time and effort in the past on our homemade parties but have saved ourselves a bundle in doing so, you can read about my daughter’s recent one on >>here<<.

I have been to so many parties now where I feel unable to leave because nobody else is and they will think I’m neglecting my child if I do? Obviously there are the exceptions where I would never drop and go – the venues that I have to stay at include ‘soft play hell’ mostly because my little one wouldn’t be able to find the loo on their own..(but please don’t exclude my kid from these parties just because of my silly phobia, they actually love these places!)

Noise and chatter is an issue.  I recall once witnessing one entertainer, at the end of their tether asking parents to be quiet! Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a chin wag as much as the next person, it’s just that I kind of feel that it’s the kids day; after all it is their birthday..My advice is to pop a simple ‘please feel free to drop and go’ request on the invites, or wave parents cheerily off on the doorstep, most actually appreciate a bit of time to themselves!

I love meeting with my mummy friends for a drink in the evening, or a coffee / shopping trip when I can relax and have fun; we also help each other out with loans of costume bits for various things going on at school, sharing info and child minding other kids, lifts to parties etc, etc .. they are pretty understanding, but I know that I am lucky.

What are your views on children’s parties? Would you never dream of leaving your offspring unattended at a party? And if so, why? Do you enjoy a chance to catch up with other mums and think any opportunity will do?

Or ..

Have you hosted a party and been irritated because you felt you had to entertain adults rather then focusing on the kids? Would you prefer a bit of time to yourself and find staying at kids parties a bit of a bore, if your child is school age do you feel that it is ok to drop and go?

Comment below ..

Thanks,

Jules x

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33 thoughts on “Kids birthday party etiquette

  1. I would love to drop and go or at least go to a different room to chat with other parents rather than keeping an eye on my child all the time. I am sure she will be fine and won’t be too shy to ask where the toilet is or for a drink or food. i am pretty much ok with everything she may eat or drink, taking into account that she has no allergy or wouldn’t eat or drink what she has never tried before. As long as I have to come to most of the parties with my youngest one who is very shy and would’t join in, I need to entertain her on my own and keep aside. it would be nice to actually just drop the one and go and have some time with the other child.
    The thing is that if no parent leaves the premises than no any other parent will leave. I feel very awkward when I somewhat have to stand behind my child while she is sitting at the party table. i always hesitate whether I am allowed to have something from the table as well :).
    Well, it also might be a matter of responsibility. When parents are there, they are responsible for their children. While when it is drop and go than all the pressure is on the hosting parents’ shoulders.
    Perhaps, some sort of compromise when parents may leave if they want (cos not all of them would leave anyway) or stay in a different room, for instance, would make it a better experience for both children and their parents. Because staying and looking after your child all the time while they are having fun is exhausting!

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    1. Agree, I always feel like a bit of a spare part at a party and personally I think it inhibits my child joining in. As long as I felt confident in the parents and happy with the venue I have no problem dropping and going!

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  2. I tend to drop and go but so many parties are that much further these days that I kind of feel what’s the point in leaving so stay to catch up with friends . If it’s a home party I would assume attiquite is drop and go . But I did have one experience which was mortifying when my children were quite young they were invited to a swimming party when they were 4 by the classes best swimmer my boys are 13 months apart and the parent was kind enough to invite both . There was just one catch we had to get in with them ….. this is fine swimming with my own children but getting in the pool with mummy’s I had just met brought on serious anxiety the stressing about the most appropriate costume whole thing terriable I came out of changing room to a group of similar plain black swimming costumes and anxious faces ….. one mum wore a leopard skin bikini 👙 And twenty other mums all looked with envy at someone who had not stressed about it all week . We laugh about it now …. all that just because your child was invited to someone else’s party !!!!

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    1. My daughter was invited to a swimming party too once, I would have been mortified if I had to go in, talked my husband into it instead and glad I did because it was all dads in the water! V difficult for single mums. I have got wobbly bits and certainly don’t feel comfortable in a swimsuit.

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  3. Wow! Again my little one is only two so I’ve not contemplated this but you’re right. I’m an eighties kid and had a party at home every year and the parents alway dropped and left. I didn’t even think about that routine changing. But mums are climbing on kids play apparatus with them, dads are running round soft play. Maybe we are all just young at heart and our parents were not but our generation do like to get involved in what our kids do. I think this may be why no one leaves anymore for fear of missing out. We makes our kids our lives whereas I’m not knocking them for it but I feel we were accessories to our parents lives. I remember growing up and on arriving at the local social club the adults went to one room and the kids had the room out back. The older ones watched the younger ones and got their mum if they got sad. Nothing sinister happened and we all lived happily ever after. We don’t seem to live in that world anymore. 😳

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    1. Hi, thank you for reading my post and taking time to comment, that is an interesting point and I have to admit, one I hadn’t considered!
      I think you are right, we are all involved with our kids now so much more then our parents generation and that is a nice way of looking at it x

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    1. It does seem to be the norm now. It’s been interesting running the article and getting reaction and comment from it, I had no idea it would be such an emotive topic, I guess parents want to feel they are doing the right thing by their kids and defend that fiercely!
      Thank you for your comment x

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  4. I grew up in the 80’s and I can’t remember ever having my Mum stay at a party. My eldest is 15 and it was pretty much drop and go when he was small too. I can understand under certain circumstances (you don’t drive and it takes an hour on the bus so you don’t have time to go home or if you are friends with the host and you want to help for example) but honestly? You give me an opportunity where I know my kid is having fun and I can gallivant round the shops on my own then I will be off like a shot!

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  5. I haven’t yet had the experience of a childrens party like that as my LO is only 7 months. The ones I’ve been to have always catered to parents too, and I would probably give the option to parents in that situation.

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  6. I hate the not knowing. Sometimes I want to leave but if others have stayed I feel obliged to. I hate kids parties with a passion as other parents can be so cliquey and I end up sat on my own bored out of my mind unable to even comfort eat all the buffet food on offer! Great post!

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  7. I do agree and I do disagree to an extent! I do not mind staying at a party, but I am quite social, I feel it is vital to get to know your children parents, more so that you know where they come from and it is nice, but I do feel if you are their you should of any form of help and its great for parents to, to catch up and make and meet new and old friends. Besides, it not as if I know the person, not to say that I do not trust them, but if it’s someone that I knew extremely well and had errands to run that would certainly be ok!

    Lindsey
    http://www.londonmumma.com

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    1. Thanks for your comment, it is always helpful to listen to everyone’s view on this, I agree that it is nice to be sociable and meet other mums .. at school we have a class Facebook group and evening drinks are regularly organised to enable this, personally I find it more relaxing socialising when my kids are in bed!

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  8. I think I’m a couple of years away from this yet as my two are still so little but it’s very interesting to read your experiences. As a kid I was always left at my friends’ birthday parties – I’m sure my parents would do a mini fist pump as they left! 😉 I’d have no problem doing the same when my two start going to parties. I’m not a huge social butterfly anyway, fairly introverted (unlike my toddler) so I’d be happy to leave her to it!

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    1. Hi Jenna, I’m glad you enjoyed the post, you sound like me, I’ve never liked large groups being more of a one to one kind of person. Maybe things will swing the other way eventually dependant on whatever is in vogue!

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  9. This is an interesting post – my boy is at the moment too young to be left, but I don’t know what I would do when he is at school. I don’t have a problem with leaving him, but I would feel bad if I was the only one to do this? However, I would have no issue if other parents wanted to do this. I like your suggestion of putting a note on the invite to suggest a drop and run!

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    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, I think when kids are school age they are used to being left and probably interact better with their peers without mum around, enjoy the preschool years, looking back they are the best times x

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  10. My oldest is 3 in a couple of weeks and we are planning a big party for him with adults to come too – for the simple reason that we live in Paris and we are going to be in the UK on his birthday so it is a perfect excuse for us to catch up with our friends. He is just at the stage now where he is naming friends that he would like there (and they are all in paris unfortunately). When does the drop and go start? I would be quite happy to do this now for a little bit of rest if the parents had expressly asked for this or given the option :o) If i was the host though I think I would want all hands on deck, my nearly 3 and 18 month old can take apart my living room on their own in a matter of minutes – ha ha.
    Kate (www.fivelittlestars.com)

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  11. I just celebrated my daughter’s 5th birthday 3 days ago lol. I personally rather have my girl’s parties at a venue versus home. Kids like to wander and I don’t need all of the attending children roaming my house. Though the majority may be engaged in the activities, you’ll have a few with curious minds and have to clean up unnecessary areas of your house besides the section where the party took place. The good side of this is that you save tons of money having a party at home, which I’ve done twice. I prefer parents to stay and help monitor their children. I personally wouldn’t leave my child unattended at someone’s party. More than likely I don’t know the parents, considering it’s a class invite. The parents may be okay, but that doesn’t mean who they are associated with that’s in attendance is okay. It’s too many negative things happening in the world today for me to just drop my kids off and leave. If parents don’t want to socialize with each other, then assist your child at the party. After all, it’s a kid’s party, not an adult gathering. Some parents don’t know how to initiate a conversation and others just don’t want to be bothered. And if that’s the case, hey shouldn’t have attended the party lol

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  12. What age does drop & go start? I held my daughter’s 5th birthday at a venue with party games & soft play, and was shocked a parent left their children – what if they got hurt? How could I keep my eye on my kids plus her kids to check they didn’t wander out of the building? If I’d been responsible for 20 kids I’d have been so stressed.
    Like many of you, I also grew up in drop and leave parties, so I don’t know what I’m so scared of.

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    1. Hi Liz, most parents weigh up the situation and take a responsible view that if the party is in a busy venue outside the home it is normally inappropriate to leave v young kids. It’s just basic common sense at the end of the day ..
      I do think staying at kids parties when they are in the safety of another parents home is overkill however if the child wants mum around then that is fine too!
      Thanks for reading and commenting x

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  13. Before I had my daughter I had this very thought! When we were kids our parents dropped us off and we preferred it that way! I used to do princess parties with a friend and parents would often stay and watch and I thought it odd. Also slightly tricky if you’ve got to tell a kid off with their parents breathing down your neck (if they haven’t intervened already of course). Now I’ve got my daughter and she’s only tiny so of course I have to be present at parties, and it is lovely to catch up with other mums. But I hope as she gets older I will be able to leave her and get the shopping done, have a bath or just veg out on the sofa. I guess it depends where the party is and who the parents are sometimes. I know that when I come to hold parties I’d rather the kids were left so perhaps I’ll put a note so say parents don’t need to stay or something? I’m a teacher so I know I can handle a few hyped up kids for a couple hours!

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    1. Hi, thank you so much for your comment, yes, it is really off putting having parents around when you are trying to entertain their kids. I’ve had both parents turn up to a party that I’m hosting at my house dressed up the nines! I think they expected drink and for me to sit and socialise with them, I’m not quite sure what the kids were supposed to be doing … I just ignored them and focused on playing all the games I had planned with the kids after all it was my daughter’s day. Since then I have been firm with people and written clearly on invites ‘drop and go’. Most people get it. And, as you are a teacher you are, as you rightly say, more then capable of taking charge of a few kids for a couple of hours!

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      1. Absolutely! I don’t know why people think you’d rather sit and chat when it’s a day for the kids and should just be able them! I’ve even been to nurseries where the staff have said ‘oh bring your little one for a visit and we can have coffee and a chat whilst they play’. My immediate thought was, ‘Who’s watching the kids then?’ Just doesn’t sit right with you! Yes a polite drop and go notice seems a good idea to me!

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  14. Great topic and question! Adults stay at my kids’s parties. But 1) my kids are 2 and 4 and 2) mostly it is family and close friends. I am curious to see how it goes as they get older. I have heard of invitations saying “kids only” or “drop off time ____ pick up time____”.

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    1. Hi, thanks for your comment. I think it is absolutely fine to state on your invitations that it is a drop off party, I normally put something like ‘enjoy a bit of time to yourself!’ I also make it pretty clear at the door what my expectations are, basically I want to focus on the kids and don’t want it to turn into an adults social. Once kids are school age and quite used to being left I really don’t see a problem with this 🙂

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