It was my smallest’s third birthday yesterday. We decided to throw him a party, and as his birthday fell on a Sunday it seemed like a good idea to have it on his birthday. It certainly made for a full-on day for all of us!
Here are my top tips for third birthday survival:
1) Go to bed early the night before.
Whatever you do, don’t leave it until the last minute and then spend til 3am wrapping presents – and for the love of all that’s holy don’t drink while you do it – because you will regret it heavily the next morning when you’re woken up at the arsecrack of dawn.
Two year olds might not ‘get’ the whole birthday thing but believe me, three year olds do (especially those with older siblings) and it will be the first thing they think about when they wake up in the morning, however heinously early that might be.
To be honest as long as it’s post 6am then it’s actually quite fun to be woken up by a really happy and excited child. It beats being shouted at, at least.
2) Do not expect them to be able to wait for anything.
It’s really not fair to. If there is anything left to unwrap by 8am you have a VERY patient three year old on your hands. We decided that we wanted everyone to be washed and dressed before heading downstairs and I’m pretty sure that made us the meanest parents on the planet.
Take a few presents to bed with you so that you can placate them while you’re trying to shower.
3) Time spent worrying over perfect presents is time wasted.
The whole cliche about them playing with the cardboard box is still true at three; you can get them tonnes of exciting, expensive gifts but their favourite will be something stupid and/or cheap (in this case a squishy poo).
It’s all about the unwrapping. It doesn’t matter what’s actually inside as it all gets cast aside anyway so that they can unwrap the next one. My four year old will always say thank you and at least try to please the giver by playing with whatever it is for a while; three year olds aren’t really into showing the appropriate amount of gratitude yet.
If you are rubbish at making cakes, a three year old will not care if you buy them a Paw Patrol one from Sainsburys, at all. There won’t be any left for you anyway.
We had Captain Fantastic running the party and it was brilliant, the children all enjoyed themselves and everyone got involved, even the younger and more shy children.
He did the whole two hours and we didn’t have to do a thing besides decorate the hall, provide the food and party bags (of course). I’ve reviewed it separately (here) but if you are looking for someone to do everything then find out more about Captain Fantastic here.
While party entertainers don’t come cheap, they are worth their weight in gold if you’d otherwise be running it yourself; I can just imagine how dismally I’d fail at trying to get a hall full of kids to sit down for pass the parcel.
5) Get people on board to help.
We decided to hold a joint party with my friend’s daughter, and not only did it halve the cost of the party itself but it definitely helped to have someone to remind me about all the bits I would have forgotten and essentially tell me what to do because I can be a bit useless in that regard.
That and a few grandparents to help decorate and make tea for the parents and you have yourself a party!
6) Try not to stress!
If you’re married, do you remember the feeling the night before the wedding that it might all go wrong? It’s eerily familiar.
The organisation and logistics are ridiculous even if you have outsourced the party itself. You will get so many last minute cancellations you’ll be genuinely terrified that no one will turn up, or perhaps everyone will bring siblings and there won’t be enough to go round.
Anyway, it will probably be fine. As long as there is cake and music then they’ll have fun.
7) Get a card with a badge.
…Otherwise no matter what else you’ve done, you’ll feel like you’ve failed. It’s not a third birthday without a badge. Oops.
8) Same goes with a big helium balloon.
Although you want to check the size before you ask it to be inflated because if it’s over a foot in diameter that’s quite scary when it floats at you in the dark. Just FYI.
9) Be prepared for meltdowns before bed.
It’s unavoidable really. Sugar, excitement, being the centre of attention… If you think the terrible twos are the pinnacle of tantrumming children, you’ve never met a three year old on their birthday. Just hope it doesn’t happen during the party…
Ensure that you have your beverage of choice on hand for a medicinal/celebratory drink once they are actually asleep.
10) Don’t expect much from them the next day.
We are currently watching CBeebies and he’s falling asleep on the sofa.
Being a birthday boy is an exhausting job.