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Kids parties- for kids or for parents?

Something that interests me and certainly puzzles me is the dramatic increase in parents who stay at birthday parties where their child is invited. I’m not referring to little ones aged 2-4 years old- these are the parties for school aged kids who are 5+ and their parents insist on staying to watch over them.

Since starting out as a children’s entertainer 16 years ago, I was personally hosting on average about 8 parties a week (not including the parties I was sending my performers to) all around Sydney (right up till late last year when I fell pregnant with twins). I remember the average 5th birthday party where all parents would drop off their kids and come back to collect them 1.5 -2 hours later. This was the case 9 times out of 10. Something has completely changed over the last 7 or so years and I am curious as to why?

These days I am now running our magical party venue and since opening, all the parties we have hosted have all had parents stay in our cafe at the front of the premises- anywhere from 25-35 adults at any given party! The parent organisers have not only paid for the children’s entertainment but they are purchasing packages for parents to stay and eat and drink. This is more business for us but I really wonder if it is necessary for parents to have to spend all this extra money and host the parents of the invited guests while they don’t really get the time to focus on their child’s special day and the entertainment for the children which is what it is supposed to be all about.

As a mobile entertainer, I didn’t mind an adult audience at all but I did want the children to have the best experience they could at a party and keep the focus totally on them – from my experience it was the parties where children had the freedom away from their parents watching over them who had the most fun. They couldn’t wait to tell their mum and dad EVERYTHING that happened when it came time to be picked up. It was their special little escape, where they could feel mature beyond their years for an hour or two.

Parties used to be very much focused on the children and you would have mum and dad there with the video camera and maybe some close relatives of the birthday child. There was space for children to play and see their friends outside of school in a fun environment. Now children are almost drowned out by the number of adults who stay and watch the party- sometimes cramming the space available. Parents who are organising the party are unable to know numbers of people to cater for properly, no idea if siblings will be brought along- the situation has made party planning far more stressful for parents in my opinion.

Personally, I feel it’s a shame that kids parties are now planned for parents. It should be all about the children and especially the birthday child. As a future parent, I don’t exactly want to spend each weekend ferrying my kids around to parties one after the other- it’s their little social event and it should be just for them. I also want my kids to be confident and not too needy at a young age- I think allowing them to go to parties on their own gives them this feeling and is a good boost for their character.

I’d love to hear what others think about this? Do you remember as a child yourself being dropped off at parties? I’d love to know some reasons as to why there has been such a major shift in past years. Is it that people don’t trust their kids with anyone these days?

Here’s an article on the topic to copy and paste into your browser…

A photo from my own 5th birthday party back in 1987- the only adults there were both my parents, my aunty and my older brother with his friend who helped run the games…..the whole backyard was for us to play in and the photos were of the kids I went to school with- not of their parents hanging around in the background. It was about us. I’m the one in the fairy dress and wings (naturally) 😉 Catherine's 5th birthday party