Toddlers and grown-up parties
Plenty of times, parents are okay with not attending parties if they can’t get someone to babysit for a couple of hours – but there are a handful of invites you just can’t say no to, right? After all, you do need a breather from time to time. And sometimes, the only thing to do is to bring your little one to the party.
Bringing a toddler to an adult-only party, however, can pose a couple of problems for the child, the host, and for you. But you can help set yourself up with a win-win situation for all three by following a few guidelines.
Always ask permission
Surprising the host by bringing a toddler to the party is never a good thing. This is true even if the host is your closest friend, family member, or someone who has always been extra kind to you. The second part of the rule about asking beforehand is to be prepared for the answer to be “no.”
Getting a refusal might not have anything to do with how the host thinks your child will behave, or how they feel about them. Instead, it might be because they’re afraid of making the rest of the party guests who are going to attend the party without their kids uncomfortable, or changing the atmosphere of the gathering.
Pack a toddler kit
If Baby has the go-ahead to be your plus-one, they're going to need supplies for their evening in the unknown territory of an adult party. This might include Baby’s favorite toys, a couple of pieces of clothing (like a warm sweater, a clean top in case of spills, or play clothes if they are starting out the night dressed to impress), extra pull-ups, snacks, or anything that your child might need.
Of course, food is especially important to think about ahead of time if your little one has food allergies or sensitivities, but it’s pretty important even if they're just a little bit picky. Toddlers in unfamiliar environments can be more ready than ever to be not entirely happy, and having a familiar favorite snack on-hand may help you swerve around the possibility of a hunger-pang meltdown.
Brush up on manners
Even if the Baby is easygoing, doesn’t like to cause trouble, or has always gotten along well at adult gatherings in the past, it is always good to refresh their memory about good manners when attending an adult party – whether that means using an inside voice, not jumping on the furniture, or any other house rules your friend might have.
When talking about manners, consistency and giving specific examples can be helpful. You can help Baby prepare for the big event by offering them chances to practice their good manners by role-playing.
Set a limit
This goes for both you and Baby – you want to be able to go to this party, but it’s important to know your own limits ahead of time. If your little one starts to get really cranky, or isn’t able to get fall asleep on your friend’s guest bed, it’s important to be prepared to head out earlier than you might have been planning on. If the number of people at the party is overwhelming them, that might be your cue, too. If you’re spending the entire night chasing after Baby instead of getting the chance to catch up with your friends at all, you might decide that that’s your limit, and head out, even if Baby seems perfectly happy.
Watch the clock
Time does fly when you’re having fun. Before you know it, it’s already three hours past your toddler’s bedtime. Some parents find it can be helpful to set an alarm to let them know when it’s time to head home. Having some flexibility is fine, and if your host offers Baby a place to get some rest, and they can manage to drop off in an unfamiliar space, you may be able to stay a while later than Baby’s bedtime – you know their sleep habits and needs best, so you’re the best person to decide whether that’s a good solution for your family. In general, though, no matter how much fun a party is, if it goes too late for Baby, they may make you regret it in the morning.
It’s definitely possible to attend an adult party with little kids – the key is to be just as mindful of Baby’s needs as the host’s.