You try dealing with this twice a weekend and not being jaded. (Pic: iStock)
You try dealing with this twice a weekend and not being jaded. (Pic: iStock)

Kids parties: the worst thing about parenting

SUNDAY was another double-header - and I don't mean back-to-back footy or bottomless brunch followed by arvo beers in the park.

No, this was the kind of Sunday every parent dreads: a stretch of birthday parties that starts at midday and ends at 9pm.

That was the time my three girls finally came down from their all-day mixed lolly bender, passing out somewhere in the house, faces painted, fairy dresses still on, clutching bags full of sweatshop toys and even more sugary hits.

Sunday nights are sad enough without having to spend the lead up in the company of other people's kids.

The thing with kids parties is they're rife with politics that no one ever tells you about.

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There's the parent who doesn't really believe in supervision so you end up babysitting children that aren't yours. For free.

Or even worse, the parent - let's just call them Satan - who plans a party smack bang in the middle of the day.

t means you don't have time to do anything in the morning (have you tried getting three kids out of the house?

It takes hours), and by the time the party winds up you need to go home, cook dinner, wash dishes, make lunches, do the laundry, and enjoy eight minutes of free time before your child has a night terror and jumps into your bed.

Kids parties suck and no amount of listicles on the internet ('10 Super Cool Ways To Adult-ify Kids Parties For Your Friends', or 'How To Make Kids Parties Feel Less Like A Minions Marathon for Your Adult Guests', anyone?) will make them better.

Sunday nights are sad enough without having to spend the lead up in the company of other people’s kids. (Pic: supplied)
Sunday nights are sad enough without having to spend the lead up in the company of other people’s kids. (Pic: supplied)

Those lists typically suggest stuff like:

1) Making an all-ages playlist with universal appeal.

Oh yeah, because Ed Sheeran is really going to make this party okay.

2) Giving guests a task.

Washing dishes is more preferable than making small-talk about what secondary school you're considering for your four-year-old. So, yes. Chuck us a tea towel. I'm in.

3) Playing an all-ages, all-inclusive game like hide-and-seek.

Good idea. Watch my child for a minute while I find a quiet cupboard where I can clear the 5470 unread emails I have sitting in my inbox.

4) Providing an adult holding pen with adult food and adult drinks

One of the parties I was chauffeur to on Sunday had reuben sandwiches with housemade pastrami; the other had small-batch IPAs with notes of coffee and blood orange. (I swear I'm not making this up.)

It was nice, but didn't change the fact I was at a kids party.

After all, would you enjoy a Heston Blumenthal degustation in jail?

It appears I'm not alone in my hatred for these weekend killers.

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Hang around the adult food table long enough - generally a plate of cut vegetables and salt and vinegar chips - and you'll hear all sort of colourful language about how kids parties are actually more stressful than the working week.

"God I can't wait to get back to my desk," someone will offer, dipping a limp celery stick into some tzatziki. "Ahhhh work.

So relaxing," their friend will agree, as a horde of screaming children converge on the cupcake stand like piranhas on a bloodied leg.

As the party enters its third hour the exasperations become more extreme.

"Kill me."

"Shoot me."

"Where's the gin?"

 

DARREN LEVIN
DARREN LEVIN

It seems like every time a bunch of parents get together all they do is kvetch (that's Yiddish for vomit). About schooling. About house prices. About traffic. About coffees rising to $4 right under our noses.

Did you know the collective noun for a group of complainers is "kids party"? It's true. Here it is in a sentence: The council meeting was derailed by a kids party of complainers. Rolls right off the tongue, right?

I wonder if this happened in the '70s where you could buy a holiday home on a teacher's salary or smoke away your stress while your child jumped on a trampoline with exposed springs.

'm guilty of it myself but it's becoming quite insufferable.

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I know the joys of parenthood reveal themselves over time, but what did we all expect?

Sunday sleep-ins followed by brunch at the hip new breakfast place where everyone dotes on your perfectly behaved cherub while you tuck into your truffled eggs hollandaise?

Perhaps kids parties actually serve a function.

As safe spaces for parents to come together and complain without the person in front of them turning into the living embodiment of the eye-roll emoji.

Maybe we should stop trying to make them better for adults and just embrace them for the weekly purging session that stressed-out parents so desperately need?

Oh yeah, and they're also fun for our kids.

Darren Levin is a writer, editor and wannabe dad-fluencer based in Melbourne. Find him on Twitter and Instagram.