Blogger extraordinaire The Unmumsy Mum is back! Read on for an exclusive sneak preview of her next book, The Unmumsy Mum Diary, and a few tips on toddler party-planning...
Sunday 14th February
Our Valentine’s baby is FOUR! Today has been all about Henry’s party, which was not only a success (turns out going simple with the old-school church hall was a winner) but was also comedy gold in places, prompting me to jot down the following ‘what to expect’ for any fellow party-planning parents . . .
A Child’s Birthday Party in 10 Stages
1. During the preceding week, you will threaten to cancel the party (and, in fact, your child’s whole birthday) at least 172 times. The evening before, when a tantrum over not being allowed on the CBeebies app coincides with Has anybody bought the mini-rolls? panic, you’ll resort to making pretend phone calls to warn the other parents that the party is likely to be cancelled. You may even need to ‘phone’ a class teacher or nursery key worker to let them know about the unacceptable behaviour. Cue hysteria.
2. You will without doubt make far too much food for the party buffet. Granted, nobody ever eats the egg sand wiches or the token vegetable sticks, but it’s parental social suicide to present an entire table of sugary carbs. We all know that kids only have eyes for the Haribo. Those gummy bears and foamy hearts will disappear in seconds. The carrot sticks will not.
3. Parents in attendance are never sure if they are allowed to tuck into the buffet spread so deem it safest to hover awkwardly near the sausage rolls. There is self preservation logic to this. At the very first child’s party I went to I missed the memo for rookie parents about it being the kids’ food and piled a plate up for myself alongside one for a toddler-sized Henry. It wasn’t until I was three bites into a cheese straw that I realised, with a wave of embarrassment, that none of the other parents were eating. The trick is to overfill your child’s plate by fifty per cent and then legitimately ‘save wasting it'.
4. You’ll unnecessarily worry whether all the parents are having a good time.
Has anybody offered them a cup of tea? Does she know anyone here? Why isn’t the bloody Disney CD working? The reality is that no adult is expecting to have a blast ‒ it’s Sunday morning in a church hall making small talk with a friend-of-a-friend’s-friend, not Glastonbury.
No adult is expecting to have a blast ‒ it’s Sunday morning in a church hall making small talk with a friend-of-a-friend’s-friend, not Glastonbury
5. ‘Happy Birthday’ will start feebly at least twice before somebody has the gusto to sing it like they mean it. Colin the Caterpillar cake will make a guest appearance at this stage.
6. Kids in superhero costumes and princess dresses will overheat, becoming red-faced and sweaty (but no, they wouldn’t like to take any layers off). Instead, they will down a plastic tumbler of squash as if they have spent a fortnight in the desert, before wiping sweat from their brows and charging back towards the inflatables.
7. At some point during the celebrations (or shortly after) the Birthday Boy or Girl will have a meltdown over something ridiculous (somebody stole their yellow balloon and although there are four more yellow balloons they need that exact yellow balloon back or they will go batshit crazy). People will nod in agreement that they are ‘just overexcited’. You will then need to read out the riot act about ‘not showing off’, concluding with ‘We’ve had such a lovely day, don’t spoil it.’
8. Cards and presents will get separated and you will end up back at home opening presents from anonymous benefactors. Having started off with the intention of writing thank-you cards, you will soon realise you don’t know what you are thanking them for and end up sending a generic thanks via WhatsApp instead.
9. The sugar and e-numbers high (which I recently read is mythical but I’m standing by it or my entire childhood belief system based on the legend of the Blue Smartie is a lie) will crash before teatime. The witching hour or two before bed with zombified staring and/or moaning will prove particularly painful.
10. Finally, you will eat leftover cocktail sausages and mini Scotch eggs for tea and find yourself grinning at the happiness of your child, who won’t go to sleep without a chosen birthday toy or two (usually the biggest and noisiest toy, which will go off in the night and make everybody in the house shit themselves).
We are living the onset of stage ten right now, having just said goodnight to our four year-old (sob) who has gone to bed with Transformers stickers on his pyjamas and an array of presents by his pillow. He’s a lucky boy; and we are lucky to have him.
Happy Birthday, Henry Bear.
Find out more about the author
She's back! The Unmumsy Mum has put pen to paper (or fingers to the keyboard!) once more to bring you the next instalment of her life as mum to two young boys, documenting motherhood exactly as she finds it. Her words have made mums, dads and grandparents everywhere laugh and cry in equal measure.
In The Unmumsy Mum Diary Sarah shares with us a year in her life as a mum, wife, blogger and bestselling author. With her trademark candour and wit, she documents the good days and the bad days, the giggles and the tantrums. She'll also share poignant, life-changing moments from her year, such as her older son heading off through the school gates for the first time.
The Unmumsy Mum Diary is as honest as it is hilarious and a peek into Sarah's innermost thoughts will leave you in no doubt that, on those days when you feel you are not quite cut out for the job, you are most definitely not alone.