Adventures in entertaining

Last weekend we had our monthly dinner date with friends: 6 adults and 6 kids under four. A bit chaotic but tons of fun! It was our turn to host (we rotate houses each month), and although getting ready for it was a test of my patience, I’m happy to say that I survived and was actually able to enjoy the evening.

Due to unfortunate circumstances, my husband had to attend a funeral the same day as our dinner. I offered to cancel, but he is great at time management and said that we could make it work; he would be home in time for the dinner party. Normally we’re a really good team and work together to throw fabulous (or at least semi-fabulous) dinner parties, even with 2 small kids in tow. However, today, it was up to just me to get things ready. I can do this. I can simultaneously manage 2 small kids AND get everything ready to entertain. Take a deep breath….. aannnnnd GO!

Step 1: Make sure the girls are well rested to avoid any meltdowns at the party.


Ok, nap time! All 3 of us climbed into the big bed (a special treat) and I hoped we would all have a nice nap — I even set an alarm to make sure that I still had plenty of time to clean up the house before hubby got back. Well apparently I was the only one who wanted to nap. Both girls were fussing and playing and accidently bumping into me so much that I decided to pull the plug on that idea.

Next attempt: Offering to take Bean for a drive (which she usually jumps at when she’s tired and can’t shut down for a nap). Here’s how that went:
Me: Let’s go for a drive.
Bean: No.
Me: You don’t have to nap, but El needs to nap, so let’s go for a drive.
Bean: El doesn’t need to go for a drive. Just put her in the carrier mummy and she can nap on your left shoulder.
Me: Ok… yes, she will nap in the carrier, but mummy wants a coffee. Can we please go for a drive so that mummy can get a coffee?
Bean: You don’t need a coffee.
Me: But I want a coffee. Let’s go for a drive.
Bean: Daddy has coffee here, you can have some of Daddy’s coffee.

Since when did my kid get so smart? How can a 3-year-old win an argument with logic? Sigh… so I guess that means no nap. Ok Bean, if you’re not going to nap, you can help mummy clean up the house.

Step 2: Clean up the house

As per usual, there were toys everywhere. Corralling Bean to clean up her toys was an effort in patience…


I think she made a bigger mess “cleaning up” than she did playing beforehand. You know how it goes: she’s cleaning up, picks up a piece of duplo that managed to fall under the coffee table and then inspiration hits: “Mummy, let’s build a house!” While building the house she decides she needs people for the house, so back into the toy cupboard for some little people and she sees her Little People birthday party set and then wants to play with that. The birthday party needs more cake so back into the toy cupboard for some of her play food…

Ok, let Bean amuse herself for the moment while I tidy up. El was having a rather fussy day and just wanted to be held. So I put her in the carrier and then proceeded to clean up. I did the dishes, tidied the kitchen, fluffed pillows on the couch, put stray items back where they belong, and even cleaned up the boots, etc. in the front hall to make room for our guests.

Check in on Bean: She had decided to dress up for the birthday party her dolls were having. Umpteen necklaces had now joined the mess of toys on the floor as Bean wiggled into a fancy outfit from the dress-up box.

Ok, do a quick vacuum and wipe down the table, counters, etc.

Check in on Bean: at this point it was safe to say that there were more toys on the floor than put away. You almost want to shake your head at it all…

Knowing we were on a time limit and that I was dealing with someone very skilled in stall tactics, I *might* have suggested that any toys not cleaned up be put into a box in the basement. A shocked little face peeks up at me from the mess of toys on the floor. Bean, you can pick ONE thing to play with. Please put everything else back in the toy cupboard. Success!!! She chose to play with her tea set and started putting the other toys away. I seized the moment and helped her out, hoping that if we worked fast enough, she would forget she wanted to play with everything at once.

Step 3: Get dinner & drinks ready

Dinner was easy: we’d already decided that we were ordering pizza. As for drinks… with El still in the carrier I went down to the basement and lugged up the beer and then set it outside in the snow to get cold (thank goodness it’s winter!).

Check in on Bean: Playing with her tea set. JUST her tea set. I smile.

Step 4: Get me ready

Hmm… how exactly does one get changed while wearing a baby strapped into a carrier? Quick answer? She doesn’t. That’s right folks. Our friends arrived and I was wearing leggings and a t-shirt, compared to my friends in their stylish outfits, their husbands in button-down shirts and jeans. No make-up. No fancy jewelry. I can’t even remember if i brushed my hair. But you know what? It doesn’t matter; friends will love you no matter what you’re wearing. (And it’s a good thing too! These ladies know that I sometimes wear track pants to drop Bean off at school, the horror! haha — but my lack of fashion is a post for another day.)

The dinner party


Not much to say here other than us adults had a great time! So did the kids. Who wouldn’t? They had pizza, cake, and a chance to play with their friends.

You can tell that us parents don’t get out much when the kids are all whining and clearly it’s time to go home for bed (at the oh-so-late hour of 8:30pm — said tongue in cheek) and us parents are the ones asking “Do we have to go home now? Can’t we stay a little longer and play with our friends some more? Pleeeeassssse?”

All in all it was a great evening and I look forward to doing it again soon. (Especially since next time, it’s at someone else’s house! 😉  )


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