There’s nothing my outgoing tween daughter loves more than to be surrounded by friends. She loves people, and being around them energizes her—as is the case with most traditional extroverts.
I happen to be an introvert.
This doesn’t mean I’m shy, mind you. It means that being around lots of people for a long period of time—even family and my very best friends—drains me. I need alone time to recharge and get energized.
When it comes to party planning, hosting, and everything that goes along with that, the mere thought of it all makes me exhausted.
Couple that with the exuberant “Let’s do this thing!” personality of my daughter, and you can imagine I’ve had to pull together some coping skills for managing her spirit without
intentionally accidentally squashing it.
How To Survive Your Extroverted Tween Girl’s Birthday Party
1. Keep it small.
Even with the nicest of girls, things can get dicey when too many tween friends are involved. It’s inevitable that someone gets left out, gets feelings hurt, gets too tired, gets [fill in the blank with some sort of moody thing]. I’ve found that by keeping the number of guests small, the chance of this happening decreases exponentially. For my daughter’s last party, she invited two friends and it worked out perfectly.
2. Plan activities you don’t have to manage.
Inviting only a couple friends to a party also means the options for what to do are greater (unless you have an unlimited party budget—which we do not). I’m not the greatest at crafts or game-like activities (and I hate managing them), so I like parties where I’m hands off when it comes to entertaining the girls.
For my daughter’s 11th birthday we did dinner and a movie. I took the girls to Red Robin (Mmmmm) because it’s not terribly expensive, boasts a huge menu (which takes care of any picky eaters), and has a totally fun vibe. Then, we went to an evening showing of Zootopia, which put us home late—but not too late. They still had time to chatter and binge Fuller House before calling it a night. And I still got to bed at a
mostly decent hour.
3. Dress accordingly and plan things for yourself while they’re busy.
Mixing comfort, and practicality, and fashion are a thing for me. Taking these mini-fashionistas out to dinner and a movie doesn’t change any piece of that. And, while I couldn’t care less if they like my style, I kind of do care what my daughter thinks about an outfit because, well, she has a pretty keen eye for fashion, even at age 11.
For this trip to dinner and a movie, I paired some of my everyday staples with cute spring pieces from Aventura Clothing. The Redford Jacket in Rock Ridge is the perfect lightweight layer to throw on as a guard against “movie theater chill” and so is Jessica Scarf in navy, for that matter. A good scarf is a utilitarian accessory that also happens to be fashionable. Probably why I own so many scarves, but that’s a post for a different day (literally). That movie theater chill is for real, though, and there’s nothing worse than shivering for two hours while trying to focus on the story.
My Street Level canvas bag holds more than just my wallet. For times when the girls are off doing tween things, like sitting and gabbing while we waited for the movie to start, I have things stowed in there to keep me occupied, too (hellllloooo, Kindle).
PS: Not only was this outfit “tween approved,” she took the shots for me and also acted as the photo shoot’s director.
4. Timing is everything.
Just like #1, making a party last too long (even with the best of intentions) is always bound to fail. Best to end on a high note, right? Sleepover parties happen to be the rage among tween girls around here, and what typically works best is an afternoon arrival, with a mid-morning departure. The only meals to worry about are dinner and breakfast, and even if they get little to no sleep, it’s not like they need to put up with each other for very long the next morning.
5. Give them space and set boundaries.
One of the hardest parts of parenting a tween (so far) has been the wide range of rules each set of parents sets for their kids, especially when it comes to two things: TV and videos. We happen to be on the less strict side of things, but that doesn’t mean that I’m completely unaware of what she’s watching. We do talk about how our rules don’t always match with friends’ rules, and so when we’re hosting other people’s children, I make sure she knows to keep the shows G or PG.
I don’t hover, but I do check in from time-to-time (they typically hole up in her bedroom). I’ll also pop my head in between 11 PM and midnight to say, “Hey girls, time to quiet it down and turn out the lights,” but I could care less if they stay up and chat for another hour or two—so long as it doesn’t keep us awake.
I’m not sure I’ll ever really enjoy planning or hosting a party, but it’s possible to make the task easier and less dreadful—and, okay, can be kinda fun, too.
Disclosure: I’m an Aventura Clothing ambassador, which means that throughout the year they send me seasonal clothing and accessories to add to my wardrobe. All the thoughts are my own!
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