You’re invited… to your bestie’s wedding, your cousin’s graduation, or your coworker’s New Year’s bash. Then they say those 5 little words, “you can bring your kids”.
What do you do? Should you bring your kids or leave them at home???
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Rachel says | “Bring the kids!”
I like to bring my kids with me.
For me, the choice often comes down to taking the kids or skipping the event.
For us at least, so many events are out of town and it is a pain to leave them kiddos behind. Who really wants to pump all weekend and travel with a cooler of breast milk?
We still gauge the situation. And to be clear, I don’t bring my kids to events if they aren’t invited. Sometimes this means I don’t go.
Here’s a couple reasons why you may want to bring your kids and how to minimize their disruption…
Weekends Are Family Time
This was a huge deal for me when I worked. I barely saw my son all week and I did not want to give up the only time I had with him on the weekend. For more info, check out how I went from a working mom to a stay at home mom.
I’m cool with leaving the kiddos home for local evening events. However, if any travel is required, I want the kids with me.
As a stay at home mom now, this bothers me less. That said, my husband works crazy hours and we still like to prioritize family time on our weekends.
Related | Why Being a Stay-at-Home-Mom Makes for a Happier Mom
Related | 5 Myths about Stay-At-Home-Moms (that I believed when I was working…)
This isn’t necessarily a huge problem when you just need a sitter for a few hours, BUT lots of events can take most of the day or a whole weekend.
There are very few people I trust with my toddler for a whole weekend. Very few.
This list is even shorter for my baby. He still wakes up multiple times at night and pretty much refuses bottles.
I didn’t leave my oldest overnight until he was 2, so I don’t expect I’ll be leaving this baby anytime soon.
If my short list of preferred babysitters are also attending the event, well then, I’m out of luck. I can bring the kids or skip it.
Rachel’s Tips for Bringing Your Kids to an Event:
1 – Stick to the kid’s schedule
As much as possible, try to keep the kiddos on their schedule.
Overtired toddlers are no fun for anyone so make sure you plan for naps and bedtime. This might mean you have to adjust your event schedule, so be prepared to arrive late or leave early.
Also, avoid hangry meltdowns by making sure they eat on schedule too…
Related | Should You Keep Your Child’s Schedule for Holiday or Special Occasions?
Related | Giving Kids Treats during Holidays
2 – Pack lots of snacks
You likely won’t know if there will be kid-friendly foods when you need them so be prepared with your own.
This is especially important if you have picky eaters, but even if you’re little ones eat anything don’t risk it. A well timed snack can avoid a tantrum and be a quiet distraction.
3 – Know your escape routes
I have no desire to drag a toddler down the aisle during the vows, so you’ll find me and my munchkins on the end of the very last row.
Sit as close to the door as possible. Staying in the back allows a quick getaway in case baby starts to fuss or your toddler decides they’ve had enough.
If you’re assigned a seat, make a plan. Identify the nearest exits and figure out the best route in case you need it.
4 – Don’t assume anyone else is watching your kids
It’s easy to assume in a large group that someone else will have an eye on your kid, especially if you’re with family.
Do NOT fall for this.
Other people are not watching your kid for you. If the kids are getting into something, most people will assume the same thing – that someone else is taking care of it. Few people will step in.
If you have to step away and can’t watch them, be sure to specifically delegate their care to someone. As in actually tell that person to watch your kids so they know they are responsible.
5 – Bring quiet activities
All activities should be quiet, small, and not have tons of pieces. I find it most effective to get something new so it’s novel and fun (aka distracting).
Jo wrote an entire post about great busy activities that double for both travel AND events. Check it out here.
I also like the Grab and Go Playpacks. They’re small enough to throw in a purse and cheap enough that you can lose them.
We usually limit screen time, but since these types of events are pretty rare I make make an exception and make sure I have a movie on my phone as last resort.
Related | Surviving a Road Trip with Toddlers
Related | 5 Easy Strategies to Plan the Perfect Trips with Your Kids
6 – Baby Tip: Wear ‘em
Baby wearing is great for parties. Baby is happy and you have your hands free.
Don’t have a carrier? I love the Baby K’tan for younger infants and the Ergobaby 360 for older children.
Jo says | “Leave the kids at home!”
If it’s not a kid-specific or family event, my husband and I prefer to leave our kids at home with a sitter and have the night to ourselves.
It’s a point I discuss this in Why Being A Working Mom Benefits the Whole Family. Separate time is very important for both parents and children.
Because when it comes down to it – (1) you don’t want your kids there, (2) the other guests don’t want your kids there, and (3) even your kids don’t want to be there.
You Don’t Want Your Kids at Events
Once you settle in, you’ll be happy to be there without kids!
If it’s a wedding, you’ll be able to watch the ceremony without having to constantly shush your toddler. You won’t have to worry about when food is coming to prevent “hangry” status. You can talk without using kid-friendly language and even stay out as late as you want!
Even better, if you’re going with your partner it gives you a chance to laugh and reconnect without kids.
Adult time is very healthy and important for moms! It’s good for your sanity and relationships.
Related | What’s the Deal with Drinking Alcohol While Breastfeeding?
Related | Should you Feel Guilty About Breastfeeding in Public?
Other People Don’t Want Your Kids There
Look, the cold truth is that no one wants your kids screaming and running around while everyone is trying to socialize and enjoy themselves.
It’s impossible for people to hold a conversation with you when you’re watching a child.
First of all, you’re only half-listening to the other person because you’re constantly watching your kid out of the corner of your eye to make sure he doesn’t stick his entire hand in the salsa bowl. Secondly, you interrupt the discussion every 30 seconds to either answer toddler questions or correct some behavior.
“But everyone is so happy when I bring my toddler! They always say hello and comment on how much he’s grown!”
Honestly, they’re happy for a second. But I promise they’re over it after a minute of seeing him interact. Nothing against your parenting skills, even the best-behaved toddler is inappropriate at parties.
Your Kids Would Rather Stay Home
Adult events are designed for adults. That means adult food, adult activities, and adult conversation. Kids won’t have any fun.
Of course children are upset initially when their parents leave them with a sitter and they may cry. Those tears dry a few short minutes after mom and dad walk out the door.
They can have a great time with the sitter doing kid activities that they love! It’s a special treat – coloring, watching movies, eating pizza, and staying up a little later.
See? Overall, leaving your kids benefits everyone. So go out there and party!
So what about YOU? Do you bring your kids to every event or do you leave them at home? Leave us a comment below, we love hearing responses from other moms who might be “at odds”.
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