Of all the things I thought would cost time and money as a parent, it would never have occurred to me to factor in birthdays. Not my children’s birthdays – of course they are costly things – but the birthdays of other children.
It wasn’t a problem until this year. My daughter had maybe half a dozen close friends at nursery, my son has about the same. I like going to children’s parties – it gives us something to do at weekends and someone else entertains my child for two hours while I drink tea and gossip. Lovely.
But since my daughter started in Reception it’s been relentless. I should have realised, when we invited forty-odd kids to her party, that it would be reciprocated. And it has been. We have two/three parties every weekend for the next three weeks. Most of which only my daughter is invited to, so we have to divide and conquer on parenting, rather than taking it in turns to have a break.
And the gifts, and cards, and wrapping paper. Never mind the cost (and I set a miserly budget!), having to sit with my five year old and try to tolerate her attempts at wrapping is an exercise in patience I don’t have. Ditto writing cards and labels. “I can do it, Mummy!” yelled at volume is a common occurrence. I like wrapping gifts and pride myself on my neatness. And my ability not to tangle yards of selotape or cover it in dog hair and fluff. Some parenting tasks are above the call of duty. At least I’ve stopped letting her choose each gift. Now I buy them in bulk as part of the weekly shop.
Rumour has it it isn’t so bad in year one, when she’ll only mix with her class rather than the sixty kids across the whole year group (they have a shared classroom much of the day). I love that she’s popular, I do. But I could live without five parties a month for the next decade!