As some of you know Miss Belle turned two on New Year’s Day. We had hoped to hold a birthday party for her, because last year we just had grandparents over for lunch and my friend round later for a slice of cake. It was all very low key, but lovely none the less.

Birthday party planning

At first we had it all planned. One of the classes she goes to does birthday parties. Although she enjoys the class now, when I was thinking of it in November, she wasn’t doing that much of the soft play and she cried every time the parachute came out. (To be fair last week was the first week she hasn’t cried at the parachute.) I asked the teacher what the structure of the party was and it was longer than I anticipated. It was two full hours, I was thinking more like an hour, and it involved a lot of parachute time. So we decided against it.

Plan B

No worries, I thought, we’ll just hire a village hall and some soft play equipment. We always planned on inviting about 15 “friends” – the NCT crew, her cousins and the children of our friends. But then we went to a Christmas gathering with some friends, a few of who have toddlers too. Miss Belle probably only sees them three or four times a year. She was a bit unsure of everyone when we arrived and it took all afternoon before she played with her “friends”. Hmm, they were on our ‘invite list’ and she doesn’t even know who they are, I thought.

So after a bit of a discussion we realised that maybe a party wasn’t the best idea. At the end of the day we’d be holding one for us, not her. I can guarantee she’d have been overwhelmed, stood at the edge of the room sucking her thumb and watching everyone else have fun. She’d probably warm up and have fun about 10 minutes before it was due to end. Or when the food came out…

Plan C?

What does Miss Belle enjoy doing the most? She has the most fun when we are just hanging out with my good friend India and her two children. Out of all of her friends we see them the most regularly, and there is a proper little friendship forming. We tend to hang out for an afternoon most weeks. Sometimes we just walk to town for a coffee, sometimes we go to the library group and sometimes we go to Pensthorpe or the Dinosaur Park because we both have their season passes. I was talking to Matt and said “to be honest, she’d have the best time if we just went to the Dinosaur Park for the day” – so that’s what we did.

A family day out with friends

We’d arranged to go the week after her birthday but I was ill so we pushed it back to this weekend just gone. It was freezing cold and wet and sort of sleeting with snow when we arrived. None of that mattered though because the kids had fun like I knew they would, and both the Daddy’s came along too. Sometimes I feel bad that Matt doesn’t get to do these days out. I suppose I take them for granted being at home all the time. And he loved it, though I think he had Daddy envy when Miss Belle refused to go down the slide, but my friend’s little boy was all over it!

We love the dinosaur park because:

  • It’s near enough all outside so you get fresh air and the kids can run about.

Family day out rather than birthday party

  • It’s full of dinosaurs, some of which roar. And you get to do this:

Second birthday party or family day out?

(apologies about the mud on the coat – Miss Belle fell over in the mud. It went in the wash last night!)

  • There’s a small animal farm area with animals inside and out:

Second birthday party or family day out? We chose family day out at the Dinosaur Adventure Park near Norwich

Sometimes a family day out is better than a birthday party

  • There is a fantastic play area outside – a toddler area and an area for the bigger ones.
  • Last year they opened an amazing splash zone, which in the summer is ace. Obviously it was closed when we went.
  • It has a really good indoor soft play area, perfect for us to go get a coffee and warm up. We later had lunch.

Do what makes them happy

Sometime’s the simplest things work out well and I’m really glad I didn’t push ahead to have an all singing all dancing birthday party, and just had a lovely day out with our close friends instead.

I hope we can hold a third birthday party for Miss Belle next year when she’ll perhaps be more confident. (Yes, I suspect it will probably be for me as much as for her). But for now, if you’re wondering about whether to hold a birthday party for your slightly shy two year old, I’d say just do something you know they’ll enjoy.

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You Baby Me Mummy

Diary of an imperfect mum