My Kid's Birthday Party Isn't an Open Invitation for Me to Babysit Your Child

Rant 119

birthday presentsWhew. Is it really Monday already? After celebrating my kid's seventh birthday over the weekend, I could really use one more day to relax and regroup after the festivities -- which were fun, but also pretty darn stressful.

Even though we didn't invite the entire first grade class this year, we did have a decent turnout for the birthday party we threw yesterday -- 13 kids, to be exact.

And no, I'm not brave enough to host a birthday party at my house in winter with all those kids present. (No. Freakin'. Way.)

We wound up celebrating at the local bowling alley, which was a total zoo because there were five other birthday parties going on during the same time as our kid's.

The place was absolutely packed and there were people everywhere. That's why I was pretty shocked and kind of puzzled when several of the kids' parents came up and asked me if they could drop their child off and go run errands instead of sticking around to enjoy the extra pizza I'd ordered (since I figured we'd have plenty of hungry adults in attendance too).

I was definitely put on the spot, so when I was asked by parent after parent whether or not they could leave and come back after the party to pick their child up, I said yes.

But then a few minutes after they all left, I started freaking out a little bit. Yes, these are 6- and 7-year-olds, so they're perfectly capable of being at a party without their mom or dad there.

But there I was, suddenly in charge of all these kids -- and I don't know them or their parents, nor did I even have a phone number to call them in the event of an emergency should something happen to their child.

And then I started to get worried that I'd accidentally lose one. It's pretty tough to keep tabs on 13 kids in a crowded bowling alley when they're running all over the place AND I'm trying to help serve pizza, cake, and make sure everything is going smoothly.

All in all, the party went fine and no one got hurt or lost and all the kids went home with their respective parents once the fun was over. But it definitely got me thinking. Would I ever drop my kid off at a birthday party and place all that pressure on the party hostess -- when she's someone I don't even know?

Absolutely not. Because a birthday party is not an invitation for free babysitting. It just isn't.

I guess it's one thing if you know the child's parents -- but other than a couple people, I had never met these moms or dads before. Ever. And it just seems awfully bold for them to ask me to take care of their child for two hours when I know absolutely nothing about their child.

Unless it's specified on the invitation that parents are welcome to drop off their kids -- moms and dads should assume they need to stay at birthday parties with their children. Period.

And I plan on writing those exact instructions with a Sharpie on next year's invites for sure.

Do you drop your kids off at birthday parties if you don't know the parents?


Image via ND Strupler/Flickr

elementary school, kid parties, birthdays


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nonmember avatar Caitlyn

I guess I am confused as to why these kids/parents you barely know were invited in the first place?

SuzyB... SuzyBarno

I don't think 6 or 7 year olds are old enough to leave at a birthday party that's in a public place with a mom that I don't know. Of course you are not going to know all of your kids friends parents but a birthday party is a great place to meet them, watch the kids play together and get to know them. I would have totally freaked too. Perfect place for a pedophile to hang out is a Saturday at a bowling alley when there is 5 kid birthday parties going on. With all the chaos it would be an opportunity to swipe one. No way I would leave my child there.

popta... poptart0325

I have never left my daughter at a birthday party and every birthday party we've been to we know the parents. My daughter has only had four birthday parties and the most kids in attendance has been about five and all of them are family members. I don't mind if my family member or close friend leaves their kid with me because I know them and the kid. Now when my daughter starts school and her classmates are invited parties, I will have to kindly decline if one of the parents asks if they can leave their child that I don't even know with me. They're not my responsibility, it's my kid's birthday and I'm not a babysitter.

nonmember avatar Leslie

Eh, if it was a birthday party at home, I think it would be fine. As a parent, you get tired of going to all of these things. But, at a bowling alley, with a parent you don't know, that your kid doesn't know, that's a little different.

Heath... HeatherMazzone

I would never leave my daughter alone at a birthday party and I would be pretty pissed too if parents tried to leave their kids with me. As if the parent running the whole party isn't busy enough, they certainly don't need babysitter added on to everything. Some people are ridiculous.

nonmember avatar kaerae

Maybe it's because we lived in a small town, but I never heard of a parent staying through the party. I only ever invited as many kids as I knew I could handle, maybe 6-8 plus my two. If you're going to invite the whole class just to get a lot of presents, that's on you. Kids need to socialize away from their parents and learn how to behave in another person's home or in public. Sounds like you just invited too damn many kids!

Teres... Teresa6190

No I would not. And to answer the obviously ridiculous question as to why you would invite kids you dont know, when I send invites to school with my daughter its because she has friends in her class who ARE HER friends, and no I do not know all of them and definitely not their parents, and the whole point of HER bday party is to invite HER friends. I mean really some of ya'll are just obnoxiously ignorant with your judgement. Any way, I had a parent do that at a friends bday party and I ended up being the one baby sitting the kid. No, WE as hosts do not appreciate this.

nonmember avatar Julie

I have an almost 8 year old and an almost 6 year old. In my circle once the kids hit about 5 parties are totally drop off.

As for not knowing the parents... my kids don't have any friends who's parents I don't at least know a little.

nonmember avatar SM

I think it is totally fine to drop your child off at a birthday party. Our parents never stayed at birthday parties when we were children. We were expected to behave properly and we did. Teach your children to behave and there should be no problem. If you are so worried about not being able to do your job as hostess mom,you have 2 options: 1) don't host a birthday party for your child or 2) ask a friend or 2 to stay and help out. It's not rocket science.

junecat junecat

One of my daughter's parties was at a roller rink - it amazed me how many parents just left their seven and eight year olds (some of whom have NEVER skated!!) in my care.  Falling is inevitable and one little girl hit her head pretty hard on the floor, but no parent around.  Everyone survived and I didn't mind them leaving them, but I would never have done the same.  I worry too much!  And the rule of thumb is to invite one child for every year your child turns so 13 was a lot. 

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