Helen O’Callaghan looks at research on child party pressure.
BY the time your child leaves primary school, you’ll most likely have spent over €5,000 on birthday parties and gifts.
This is according to the www.MummyPages.ie parenting community, which found eight in 10 mums dread the expense of the primary school year birthday marathon.
This sees children invited to at least 12 birthday parties a year with an average spend of €15 each on gifts.
Thirty-two percent of mums host their child’s party at home but, while parents might believe this reduces cost, it isn’t necessarily so.
The survey found hosting a child’s birthday party is surprisingly more expensive at home at €387 compared to €344 at a commercial party venue.
Statistics uncovered by the MummyPages research found parents spend an average of six weeks planning a child’s party.
They invite an average of 20 children if the birthday child is under eight and approximately 11 if the child is aged between eight and 12 years.
Eighty-two percent of mums report feeling under pressure to ensure their child’s party holds the same wow-factor as parties hosted by their friends.
Laura Haugh, mum-in-residence for www.MummyPages.ie says this is unfortunate.
“The cost of both hosting and attending birthday parties can be a financial worry for parents of young primary school children where the trend is to invite the whole class, with friendships evolving and school policies dictating that nobody is left out.”
Trying to keep up with other parents only raises the stress factor.
“The theme, cake and entertainment [are] becoming increasingly competitive in order to wow both children and parents alike,” says Haugh.
“Some parents book their child’s party entertainment months in advance, while others research and practice creation of their child’s birthday cake, by their own hand, for weeks before the big day.”
Clinical psychotherapist Joanna Fortune (www.solamh.com) agrees birthday parties have become big theatrical events that put parents under huge pressure.
She has met parents who go all out with the entertainment.
MummyPages research found 77% of mums hosting at home hired private entertainment.
Fortune says keep it simple.
“A group of children together will find something to play with.
Parents shouldn’t feel they need to impress anybody but their own child and all they need is a cake with candles, singing and playing.”
* Be sensible – there will be other mums of your child’s classmates who feel as you do around keeping down cost and time spent planning.
* Share birthday parties with classmates all born in the same month.
* Many parish halls/community centres now hire out their facilities to parents looking to host an inexpensive party outside of their home.
* Birthday party food needn’t break the bank. Google easy, healthy, fun recipes.
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