Month before party: send out invites (handmade by child not because you want to be ‘that’ mum, but because you don’t want to pay four quid for paper).
Three weeks before party: chase up all parents of children invited and try not to sound p*ssed off they didn’t respond.
Two weeks before party: discuss what presents/cake/party games/party bags/outfit birthday child wants. Begin speed searching Amazon for ultra specific toys. Realise toys take three weeks until delivery.
One week before party: scour internet for recipes to make the intricate birthday cake child has requested. Realise no-one has ever made a replica castle complete with moat and soldiers. Wonder if turrets can be made out of swiss roll and willpower.
Six days before party: Plan party food, feel smug as it’s in the online shop and there’s nothing to worry about. Begin urgent discussions in Facebook forums as to how one would make a castle cake and enter fantasy that you are a star baker.
Five days before party: Child decides they’ve changed mind about toy they want. They’d rather something else. Child also declares that a castle cake is ‘silly’ and requires a football cake. Exhale deeply as realise the cardboard mock-up of said cake is now relegated to the bin. Look up online how to make a football cake.
Four days before party: Wonder why you’re not feeling stressed and realise it’s because you’re so organised.
Three days before party: Run around town after realising you need toys/cards/giftwrap/party bags/loot/ prizes and sweets. Wonder why so badly organised.
Two days before party: Receive messages from two parents ‘just letting you know’ that their children have food intolerances / are vegetarian. Look at party food list. Wonder if crisps are wheat free. Google. Get confused by coeliac and wheat free. Find out how to pronounce coeliac. Text mother and sister for advice re. food. Settle on jam and cheese sandwiches and usual party grub. Realise gluten free can’t have birthday cake. Realise haven’t made birthday cake.
One day before party: Online shop delivered. Substitution of cocktail sausages for 12 oven ready bangers. Look at delivery man and wonder if jail is worth the risk. Also discover another child dislikes cheese. Settle on marmite and jam sandwiches. Come to the realisation you’ll never make a football cake. Visit Sainsburys despite taking delivery of food just one hour before. Buy a cake.
The day of the party: Chop finger whilst slicing vegetables for dipping in humus as assured vegetarian will ‘definitely’ eat those. Make a pile of sandwiches. Child beams at you for ‘making’ such a cool football cake. Bask in reflected glory. Feel guilty. Sort of.
Two hours to party: Birthday child in tears because party hasn’t started yet. Wonder if before midday is too early for a G&T.
One hour before party: Realise vegetarian can’t have the jelly. Bin jelly.
Half an hour before party: Realise all other children could have had jelly.
The party: Manage eight very excited 6 year olds who remind you of a stag party after too much booze – much shouting, much fighting and much throwing up.
Feed children. No vegetables ingested by any of the children. Child who doesn’t like cheese solely eats Babybels. Vegetarian demolishes all the chocolate fingers whilst you quickly check the ingredients to be sure that’s ok. Then realise you don’t really care.
Bring out cake. Child very pleased and tells you it’s the best day they’ve ever had.
Party finishes: tidy up all the crap. Let child open all presents only to have to produce screwdriver/batteries/scissors/tape and replace cheques with real money.
One hour after party ends: allow self G&T. Take first sip. Child asks what they’re doing for their ‘actual birthday’. Google ‘putting own child up for adoption’.