R turned five last month and she was very excited to celebrate with her friends. We have a family policy of inviting all her daycare class to parties. We can afford to do so since we rent a public venue very close to where we live for a fair price. It’s a safe and kids-friendly place where the usual 20-25 toddler participants can run, play, and turn into sugar-frenzy without us having to worry.
This year, my husband happened to be home on parental leave and since lately I have been having a hard time, he told me this year he would deal with anything concerning R’s party. “You only have to bake the cake, the rest is on me”. My natural tendency is to be a micromanaging nightmare, but I was feeling so overwhelmed that I let go. Completely. Until the night before the party when I asked him, “Did you go and pick up the keys of the venue?”. Silence, followed by panic.
I had taken the day off work to relax and bake R’s cake. I desperately needed a day to rest, but I ended up baking the sponge three times, having failed the first and after realising I needed one layer more beside the second. I was exhausted and the forgotten keys were the last straw for me. I got so mad I could not even speak.
Canceling was not an option: we were supposed to fly to Italy for three weeks the day after the party and R would have been heartbroken. At the same time, how could we entertain 18 toddlers for two hours in our living room?
We frantically tried to reach the custodians of the venue, offering to pick up the keys anywhere, but no one was willing to help.
We spent a couple of hours in panic, not knowing what to do, then we proceeded to list the facts: the party had to happen, we had to host it at our place, and keeping twenty toddlers in our house for two hours was not possible.
After putting the kids to bed, we brainstormed and listed few outdoors activities we could set up with little materials and time. We came up with the following:
- hit the snowman – we bought a resistant yet safe stick, and kids had to hit our snowman like a piñata;
- down the hill – we own two sledges and asked our best friends to bring another two, and had the kids slide down a hill behind our house;
- fill the bowl first – two teams (2-3 kids each) would challenge each other to fill up a bowl with snow with the help of tablespoons. The team which filled the bowl first won some candies;
- scavenger hunt – we bought three kinds of small objects (some cheap bracelets, Easter plastic eggs, chalks) and I hid them in our courtyard. Each kid had to find and bring one of each objects to win a lollypop.
We asked some of the parents, my brother, and his girlfriend, to stay and act as guardians and helpers (if you are reading, we are very grateful!). My husband rushed in the night to buy the little materials we needed (thank you 24 hours-hypermarkets!).
We sent a text to all parents (kudos to my husband who had all phone numbers stored!), changing the venue and shortening the party to 1.30h. On the day of the party, kids played outside for a full hour, rotating between the games, and enjoyed it a lot! We invited them in only to have a glass of juice, eat some snacks and the cake. R opened all her presents and kids were too tired and well-mannered to destroy the living room.
We had moved anything we could out of the way to make space. Our office room looked like a tetris game played with furniture and toys.
The party was a success, we had saved the day! After the effort and the stress peak, I just wanted to crawl to a corner and cry (which I did), but I admit it also felt good to see my husband and I had managed the situation so promptly and brilliantly. We have worked as a great team.
You bet next time we will remember to pick up the keys.