How Young Is Too Young for Birthday Drop-Offs?

Sasha Brown-Worsham
45

Last January, it was my daughter's fourth birthday and just before the party, one mom called me and asked if it would be OK if she just left her daughter at the party rather than staying the whole time. At this point we were accustomed to throwing a good birthday party given we throw two a year, but with a son who is younger, this was a question we had not yet encountered.

The fact was, it really was OK. The party was held in a gymnastics studio with three chaperones and all the other parents stayed. The adults outnumbered the kids by almost three. The party was only two hours long and the mom had arrived back within the last 15 minutes. But the question still threw me. Has my 4-year-old really reached the age where she is old enough for this?

According to Birthday in a Box, parents should plan on staying at birthday parties through the age of 4, which means that next year, my daughter might be old enough for this.

Is this really possible?

Even now, my daughter is in classes where we are allowed to drop her off and leave, but I always wait outside the class in the waiting room. What if she needs me for something and I'm not there, I always wonder.

Regardless of what the etiquette books dictate, it seems to be a personal readiness issues. I'm not yet ready for the drop-off party, though I'm guessing my daughter might be. There is also the whole issue of what other parents are doing. Personally, I wouldn't want to be the only mom who dropped my kid off and went to run errands if everyone else stayed at the party.

This isn't necessarily because there is anything wrong with it, but it would make me nervous and worried that my daughter would feel sad or shy or left out. The fact is, she still needs my help at parties sometimes. I get her the cake and hold her if she feels shy. I help her feel more comfortable. I think my role still matters. 

Maybe in a year or two I will feel differently. And when I do, I will be pretty psyched. After all, she gets the fun of a party and I get an hour or two alone!

When was the first time you left your kid alone at a birthday party?

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