These days, there is a huge amount of pressure when it comes to all things birthday and it’s no harm to want to get it right from day one.
When your child attended play school or Montessori birthday parties were a little bit more straight forward. Due to the nature of the small group numbers, it was no big deal if you wanted to invite the whole class or invite nobody at all.
You could chat with the teacher or room leader at ease and figure out what was best to do. Some pre-school settings even have a special birthday
chair or hat and you might have been lucky enough to get a photo of your little one using it on the big day.
When your child starts at big school birthday parties are a little bit more complex, however. Not surprisingly, many parents gasp at the sheer amount of parties their little one is invited to in just the first couple of weeks of the school term.
A large group of children means a large number of birthdays. This, in turn, means a large number of presents to be bought and weekends to be spent at play centres. So how should you approach it all?
If you are feeling anxious about the whole thing then let me reassure you that you are not alone. So many parents are feeling the very same. Back in the day birthdays were simple. There was no major etiquette around invitations or RSVP’ing. Special dietary requirements were not on the radar and children seemed happy to receive any kind of present
. These days, there is a huge amount of pressure when it comes to all things birthday and it’s no harm to want to get it right from day one.
Let’s start by saying that you really don’t have to have a party that involves your child’s classmates. They might have a group of pals/cousins/siblings outside of school that make for a pretty decent group already. Financially it could have you at capacity. This might be a little easier in theory because now your child is coming home with names of boys and girls they play with daily and perhaps even more complicated is the fact that these boys and girls have sent invitations your way for their birthdays.
Surely you can just invite the kids your child plays with right? Well, actually, not necessarily. Certain schools have rules in place when it comes to birthday parties. Many will not allow birthday invitations to be circulated during school time. They will not help or become involved in the process as a general rule. Other schools will help if all children are being invited. This means that in some cases if you want to invite a select few, you have to do so at the school gates or by tracking down their parents.
Your school of choice may have a class party initiative that you can decide to opt in or out of. It may be communicated through the parents association for example. Many schools will have one party per term and all children with birthdays during that term can work together to have a group party. It can work out a lot better on the pocket as well as logistically with time.
However, not all parents will want to do things this way. Some find it a bit odd for their child to have happy birthday sang to them two months before their actual birthday while others are overjoyed to have this option. It leaves the freedom to celebrate the child’s birthday outside of the school scene when the time comes because that box has been ticked. In some cases, it means there is no need to celebrate further at all!
When your child starts school there may be a parent’s WhatsApp group set up. Some birthday party etiquette may be suggested from day one. For example – a general rule that gifts should not exceed a €5 token gift or that everyone gives that amount of money and allows the birthday child to choose their own gift.
It can be really helpful as it takes away some of that grey area. Many parents feel self-conscious about the expectation when it comes to presents even though they would not want that pressure to happen when it was their own child’s birthday. It can work out really well to have a standard that a majority agrees to.
And when it comes to the actual birthday itself keep it simple. Kids are happy to simply play together, eat some cake and leave with some kind of a treat to take home. Hit your local Mr Price, pick up some simple decorations in Sostrene Green and don’t put yourself in to financial and emotional debt over what should be a positive and joyful occasion for you and your child.
Tracey is a happy mammy to four-year-old Billy. She is a breastfeeder, gentle parent and has recently lost five stone so healthy family eating is her passion! You can find her at www.loveofliving.ie.