Marie Louise McConville: Kids' parties make for stressed out parents

Birthday parties can make for stressful times for mums and dads

I had a rather peculiar dream the other night.

At one stage, I was at work and suddenly, I had lost my shoes and I was late for a very important meeting.

Shortly afterwards, I was with my family in a hotel room, which we hadn’t paid for and we were trying to make a getaway without being caught.

I woke up sweating at 3.15am and when I tried to go back to sleep, I went back into the dream.

Every time I closed my eyes, my heart raced and I could feel my anxiety levels rising.

So, I sat up in bed at around 4.30am and conceded defeat.

Of course, I know what is behind this strange nocturnal behaviour.

In recent weeks, life has become very busy. With being back at work and trying to organise the family and our time and fitting in everything we have to get done, our routine is continuing to evolve and it can be a bit stressful.

However, I don’t think this is to blame.

Nope, I think my stress levels are elevated because of a very special event, which is only a matter of weeks away.

You see, I want it to be special. I want to make an effort. I want to create wonderful memories.

Therefore, my expectations for James’s first birthday party on March 4 is causing me to stress quite a bit.

I’m really feeling the pressure.

Now, before you all start, yes, I am aware that he will be only one. Yes, I am also aware that he will probably not remember it and yes, I am also aware that all children really need is love – not materialistic things (though, they help).

But, at the same time, I want to organise a nice party for him but I think I might be getting slightly carried away.

So far, I have managed to avoid the temptation to book a big venue for the party and go all out.

As with Abbie’s first birthday, we have decided to have a small gathering at home.

With Thomas The Tank Engine chosen as the theme, I have so far organised the cake, banners, balloons and party ware. All sorted. No problem.

I’ve also pretty much sorted the party food and drinks, both for the adults and the children.

But then I got to thinking about at the actual party itself, what about entertainment?

Should I be looking to candy floss machines and popcorn makers?

What about a visit by Marshall from Paw Patrol? Or, George from Peppa Pig?

To be honest, I didn’t even know half this kind of stuff existed until recently when I took Abbie and James to a parent and toddler playgroup and somehow became embroiled in a conversation about birthday parties as another mum was also organising her daughter’s first birthday.

I kept quiet but was taken aback when she revealed she had booked a bouncy castle and a visit from Elsa. On top of this, someone was coming to do glitter tattoos on the party guests.

I was actually relieved when it was time to leave but now, I feel like I’m against the clock to book a whole host of activities for James’ party.

So, what should I do? I don't want to let him down and the whole thing is making my blood pressure rise.

My plan had been to just let the kids run around and enjoy themselves as they gobbled up sweeties, ice-cream and cake.

I was actually just going to put on some music in the background while all the guests chatted but how boring does that sound?

So, now my stress levels are disrupting my sleep, leaving me even more anxious about taking this party up a notch.

So, how's this for a plan - a disco dome with a slide, an ice-cream van, donkey rides and a live performance by The Teletubbies.

Too much?

Help, please.



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Easy Peasy Recipe

This week’s Easy Peasy Recipe is Spring Time Chicken

You will need:

1 tbsp olive oil

1 chopped onion

500g boneless and skinless chicken thigh

300g new potatoes

425ml vegetable stock

350g chopped broccoli

140g garden peas

2 tbsp pesto

1 sliced spring onion

To Make:

Heat the olive oil in a pan before adding the onion and fry.

Add the chicken and fry until lightly brown

Add the potatoes and stock and bring to the boil.

Cover and simmer for 30 mins until the potatoes are tender and the chicken is cooked.

Add the broccoli, peas and spring onions.

Stir and bring to the boil.

Cover and cook for 5 mins before adding the pesto.


Do you have an Easy Peasy recipe you would like to share?

Are you the queen of quiches, magnificent at muffins or can you turn out some nice scones?

If so, then we want to hear from you.

You can send your name, address, contact number and recipe (plus photo if possible) to:

Easy Peasy Recipes,

Marie Louise McConville,

Irish News

113-117 Donegall Street,




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