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  • Writer's pictureJodie Finney

Weddings + Kids = help

When you have an event, for example a wedding or funeral, and the whole family needs to attend - what do you do? If you have asked this question before, keep reading.

This past week we had a family wedding. My niece got married in Victor, Idaho. It was a fantastic wedding weekend with family and friends. Our four kids (ages 4 to 11) were in the wedding and excited to be a part of the festivities. In order to make everyone happy and keep me from totally losing it, I had to plan in advance.

My goal was to avoid as many meltdowns as possible, get my family where they needed to be on time and make sure I enjoyed myself too. (I love a good party, especially weddings!)

Here are three things I believe will make an event like this successful:

- Get help.

- Preparations

- Pull the plug.

For the sake of time let’s stay focused on the out of town wedding. Your resources for an event at home are readily available. However, your preparations and when to pull the plug still apply regardless of location.

GET HELP! Seriously, if you take away nothing else from this post; YES – spend the money on the sitter and NO your kids will not be as good as you think. If you have the funds to take someone with you - do it. For the rest of us, we will need to find someone in this new location. If you need to pick a dress from the closet instead of buying a new one, do it, no one is looking at you anyway.

Start early, i.e. not the week before. Where to start looking - It goes without saying your first ask should be family (what I did) and friends or even friends of friends. If you are headed to a random town in southern Cali and you just so happen to know your old college buddy lives there, reach out via social media. A personal referral is always better and more reliable than option two. Start with the host of the event and/or wedding coordinator and then work your way down the list; or similar services, resort concierge, kids club counselors at the hotel, lifeguards, instructors, the local university sorority house, graduate school programs.

You’re going to laugh at this but, talk to them over the phone, don’t just text. You can tell a lot about a person over the phone. If time and events allow, get them to babysit before the BIG PARTY. Make sure you confirm with the sitter the week and the day before. And if you have more than 4 kids consider getting 2 sitters.

This leads me to PREPARATIONS. The week before the event try on ALL the kid’s clothes for the party(s) and your clothes. Critical, especially when traveling. Click here for packing tips. Trying on also helps with the “I am not wearing that tantrum.”

Day of PREPARATIONS - Start at least an hour earlier than you think and have the sitter come early. The younger your kids are, the earlier they need to be there. Start by feeding the kids and not just goldfish. Give them real food and lots of it. Hangry kids are a recipe for disaster. Then off they go to watch TV or with the sitter. Get yourself showered and ready, except your dress, wait on the dress. Next, get the kids ready. This is not the time to feel bad about getting them dressed in front of the TV. Depending on how old your kids are, you may need to bathe them with you, or before you finish your hair and makeup. Time will evaporate into space, so I can’t stress enough to start early and get the sitter there earlier than you think necessary. Finally, you will get dressed and walk out the door. Take the sitter with you — wink, wink.

PULLING THE PLUG. It may seem silly, but in the end, it will be a critical move. The starting point is bedtime – What time do your kids go to sleep? With that time in mind you can extend their departure by an hour or so. They will be excited and the festivities will have them amped, however about an hour after their bedtime they will be running on fumes. Let me be an honest friend here - no they are not going to tell you they are tired and no they are not going to want to leave. Quietly say to the sitter it is time, and give any needed instructions, then have the sitter get the car. You - take the kids to the bathroom for a “bathroom break” and then to the car, don’t go back to the party. No big goodbyes or I love you so so so so so much, sweet precious- sing- you- a- song in your car seat. This is a don’t let the door hit you on your way out type of moment. If sh..t hits the fan you are already halfway out of the party, and you are not the crazy mom ripping your dancing screaming child off the dance floor. This is the moment of truth and where your sitter can either get the minimum or earn some serious post-wedding drunk overpaying. Let her earn her keep.

Remember this is a once a year type of event, the standard rules don’t apply. If you need to be the mom with the kid on an iPad and headphones to get through the ceremony, do it. This is not time to try and teach your kids to sit through an hour of church. (That’s another post.)

You want it to be fun and memorable for you, your kids, and the wedding guests and not in the “remember how bad XYZ kids were,” type of way. If you plan, the money you will spend on child care for an event like this will always be money well spent! Lastly, something will go wrong, don’t panic. Just remember you are trying your best, and you are wonderfully perfectly imperfect.

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