Holiday Events with More than One Child

IMG_3076I remember the first Christmas party we went to after becoming parents. My daughter was 4 months old. I found something to wear that I could nurse in and didn’t look totally frumpy, and we went to a friend’s house for a little cocktail party. When we got there, Maisie was asleep, so I carried in her baby bucket to the guest room where everyone had their coats. When she began to cry, I excused myself and shut the door so I could nurse her back to sleep. Then I rejoined the party.

Oh, those were the days.

Now we have three girls, and honestly I wanted to write one line for his post: Get a sitter! The end. Taking small children–especially toddlers–to a party can be stressful. You don’t know if they will have a meltdown or not. You have no idea what they will say to people. You don’t know if they will decide that this is the time to find out what happens when we jump on the couch. But it can be done.

1. Know the layout. Who’s hosting the party? Do they have kids? Do they collect Faberge Eggs and keep them on display throughout their home? People who have kids or are totally devoted grandparents are going to be much more understanding when your toddler goes crazy. If you know others who are coming, ask them what they are doing with their kids. Sometimes having other kids there makes it easier, sometimes it might make things harder depending on the age and number of little ones. Outdoor events can be equally as daunting–if you are doing a walk-through light display or activity, make sure you bring enough carriers or wheels for all the kids–even big kids get tired–and extra coats or blankets.

2. Make sure they have something to do. Whether they have toys and games for little ones, or you need to bring them with you, make sure the kids have something to do while you chat with the grownups. Many stores have $1 coloring books, sticker books, and holiday crafts for little ones this time of year. You can also give them a job, like decorating cookies, if the host is willing.

3. Feed them before you go. We still do this even when we go out to eat. It ensures no one will get hangry while you’re out, and you can avoid battles over food since everything is basically desert at this point. Maybe you’ll even get to eat something without sharing!

4. Be ready to bail if you have to. My rule of thumb when taking my kids anywhere is not to go anywhere or do anything that I am not prepared to bail out of. Sometimes this means not being mad that I just spent money on something, like a movie ticket or entrance to an event, and sometimes this means not being disappointed that I have to leave a party. I just always try to stay mentally prepared for the nuclear option.

The most important thing you can do as a parent is set yourself up for success. Don’t take your kids into a situation where you are going to feel self-conscious, stressed out, or like people are judging you the whole night. There’s just no reason to do that to yourself or your children. For me, if I can’t go somewhere and relax and have a good time while I am there, it’s not worth going.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three girls. She lives and writes in Queensbury, New York.

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