How do I explain to my child that he cannot attend a daytime birthday party that happens on a Wednesday?

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Answered by: Kadidia, An Expert in the Working Moms - General Category
That is a hard one, especially if it is a good or even the best friend. The first questions would be, does your child already know about the party? Or do you think you have to tell him because he'll hear about it later and be upset? If your child does not know the daytime birthday party is happening, I would not even tell him and nip a tantrum or meltdown in the bud that way.

Also, you may check if there is someone else attending the daytime birthday party who could take your child to it. In this case, you do have to work out such details as: Will they have to pick up your child from school and take him back after? If so, you may have to put them on the approved pick up list. Alternatively, will they watch your child for the entire day? In this case, do you want to offer to pay them or maybe watch their kids in return for a date night or similar? How will your child get to their house and how early do you have to drop him off and how late can you pick him up? Unless this is a frequent occurrence, you might also consider taking the day or at least a few hours off.

If he already knows or you think he will find out about the party and be upset, you need to speak with your child. I wish I knew how old he is, but from your question I would assume preschool or younger, otherwise all his friends would be in school during the week as well. Sit him down in a comfortable spot with no distractions, hug him tightly and let him know that he was invited to a birthday party but unfortunately he will not be able to attend. Explain to him that unlike other mommies, his mommy has to work during the day which is why he is going to a school. Remind him of how much fun he has at school and that he gets to play with his friends there all day long.

Part of this conversation depends on your child and whether you have had similar conversations with him before. I remind my son that because I work we can afford a lot of things other families cannot, such as weekend trips, going to the movies or out to eat. If you have to work out of necessity more than anything, let your child know that your job is necessary for your family to have a roof over your head and food on the table, that it is how you pay for his clothes and food. It's not necessary to go into too many details here at this age or paint a bleak picture, just gently tell your child that all families are different and some people need to work more than others.

Lastly, come up with a plan. You could arrange a special play date with that friend on a weekend or in the evening or invite him over to your house. Have your child help you pick out a small belated birthday present he can present to the friend at that time.

Mostly, do not let your child guilt you into making him promises you cannot keep or buying him a toy or anything else. It is important for him to learn that he will not be able to do everything he wants to. Next time it may be because he is on vacation with you or has other prior commitments. The most important part is that his friend has invited him because he cares for your son.

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