Now that my daughter is in Pre-K she is getting invited to Kid Birthday Parties. She thinks this is the greatest thing ever – a party, friends, cake and balloons. Me? Not so much. I see awkward conversations, uncomfortable situations, and hours of being surrounded by people I don’t know and screaming kids. If you read my post about Be The Boss Of Your Time class, you know that I took a personality test and found out that I am a 91% introvert. I have a hard time psyching myself up to go to these parties. Lucky for me all of her cousins her age live out of state; I never have to go to their parties. I just send a present in the mail and boom – best auntie ever. My lucky streak is over now. I have been to a couple of kid birthday parties and I have developed a game plan so that I can get through the party and recover afterwards.
Why would I need a survival guide? A few fun stories about parties I have attended so far this year. The first party I went to we showed up right on time. We were the first ones there. The Hostess asked if I knew how to make Deviled Eggs. Like any good southern lady I said of course. She dragged me into the kitchen, gave me a spoon, pointed at a pot of boiling eggs and told me to make them. But not to use relish she can’t stand it. Then she walked away – to go straighten her hair. The second party I went to a sweet little girl about 2 wouldn’t leave me alone. She crawled in my lap, gave me kisses, brought everything she was interested in to my lap and showed me. Her mom looked at me and said she couldn’t understand it her daughter normally hates strangers. I shrugged it off and said I probably smell like cookies because I had been baking that morning. A little while later the mom made another pass through the living room and stood looking at me for a few minutes holding her kid. Then she announces to the whole room, “I know what it is. She thinks you are her grandmother. My mom dyes her hair that color and wears a bun too. She has big glasses like that and is always in a sweater. Yep she thinks your my 60 year old mother.” Smiles and walks away. Lucky for her I was holding her kid or she would have been throat punched. Seriously I know I am closer to 40 than 30 but I sure as hell don’t look 60. The last party I went to I was cornered by a Dad. He told me all about his 9 kids, ranging from 39 to 4. How his wife loves having babies. How his 19 year old daughter is the campaign director for a governor candidate in Virginia. I couldn’t escape no matter how many times I tried.
So if you have had as much fun as I have at kid birthday parties these tips are for you. Fingers crossed you don’t get compared to someone’s 60 year old mother.
Prepping For the Party
- RSVP to the Party: We both know it is good manners to RSVP to a kids party. That way the parents that are hosting know how much food and cake to get. The reason it is #1 on my list is because if you have made the commitment you are more likely to follow thru.
- Buy a gift: This goes hand in hand with #1. If you have spent the money on the gift and have it wrapped and ready there is one less reason you can use to not go. Quick story: I went to a party last month for a little girl. One mom who brought her kid to the party brought her gift unwrapped, handed it to the Hostess and told her to go wrap that up – she didn’t have time on the way over from Target. Seriously this woman walked into a strangers house, handed them a gift and demanded she stop hosting the party to go wrap it for them. Don’t do this people. They sell gift bags at Target for a buck, just grab that on the way to the register for heaven’s sake.
- Pick your outfit the day before: I know this sounds hilarious but it is going to save you so much drama. You already are stressed about going to the party, do you really need to spend an hour going through outfits trying to find the perfect one? Something comfortable enough to play in the floor, dressy enough to not look like you just rolled out of bed, no graphics that might offend someone on the shirt, no pants that show your underwear when you bend over, shoes you can stand in and not die because they are killing your feet. You had that one great party dress from before you were a mom. Now you need that one great birthday party outfit.
- Get your reward ready: All introverts know that they need to recover when they get back from a party of any kind. Personally I reward myself with a sweet treat, a soda, and 10 minutes locked in my closet. What ever you need to recover get it ready so when you get home you can have a few minutes to yourself to find your center.
- Play your happy music: When your driving to the party play your happy playlist. Play it loud and sing along. This will get you into a fun place and out of your head. You know you have songs that can put you in a good mood just by listening to them. Do it.
- Get there 15 minutes late: I hate being the first person at a party. I hate being the first person in the door and the hosts fussing because something isn’t ready. This is really the only time in my life I let myself be late for things. For the last party I had to go to I was going to be 10 minutes early. Mermaid had fell asleep on the drive over. Heaven help me. I pulled over into a Lowe’s parking lot and read my kindle for a half hour. I showed up a little late, letting a few other parents get to the party before me. Mermaid didn’t miss anything, and I got to slip in with little notice.
Surviving the Party
- Find a chair and plant yourself: After you get inside and say all your hellos find a chair in the living room (or patio if it is nice out). Don’t go for a chair in the kitchen – everyone will be in there chatting and getting food. Find one that is out of the traffic pattern and settle in. If you have to get up then leave your purse in it will hopefully still be open when you get back. Chairs at a party are always scarce. Defend your territory ladies.
- Leave the present in the car: If you leave the present or something else in the car you have a perfect excuse to go outside for a few minutes for a break. Fun story: the first party I went to this year a mom came in and talked to everyone for a few minutes. Then she got a ‘work call’ she just had to take outside. She went out to her car and took a 2 hour nap. I could see her from my chair in the living room. I don’t have the guts to just go take a nap in someone’s driveway leaving my kid inside to play, but I will take a few minutes sitting in the backseat of the car enjoying the quiet.
- Compliments: When you get caught by another parent and have to make small talk give them a compliment. It is easy to give people compliments. Pick something you honestly like and tell them. Her dress or earrings? She will tell you all about them. Better yet compliment something on her kid and you can just smile and nod for a long time. It is human nature if given a complement on something people are going to tell you all about it.
- Exit Strategy: It can be awkward saying your goodbyes and heading out the door. You don’t want to be the first person, and if your an introvert you definitely don’t want to be the last one out the door. General rule for a kids party is you can leave after the cake is eaten and the presents are opened. One thing I have learned the hard way is not every parent is going to let the kids open the presents at the party. One of the parties I have been to the parents didn’t let their son open any of the presents during the party. I can only guess they either didn’t want them torn to bits by all the kids in attendance. So no one really knew when to leave because we all just kept looking at each other and the presents trying to figure out what was going on. So just chill in your chair that you claimed and wait for at least one other parent to collect their kid and leave. Then slowly gather your kid and scoot on out too. Hopefully because you arrived a little late your car won’t be blocked in and you can get out.
If you have any tips on helping this Introverted Mama get through kid birthday parties leave me a comment and let me know. I need all the help I can get.