I assumed, having survived my 11-year-old's birthday party last month with the temporary mislaying of only two children, that I was an expert in the subject. I knew, for instance, that the combination of of nine guests, a flour-filled ball, white jeans and the London Transport system was a risky one and so, to celebrate my son this week, we decided on two guests and the family Skoda. But once again I had failed to think ahead and so here, for your instruction, dear readers, is the next chapter of my party survival guide for pressed parents. Before embarking on an outing to the local soft play centre - or indeed, any physical activity involving small boys - ensure that you:
Clear your diary for the rest of the week to accommodate twice daily trips to the Fracture Clinic.
Start collecting pound coins several weeks in advance to feed the ticket machines in the hospital car park. My experience suggests £20 in loose change is required in a 36 hour period.
Fill yourself up guiltlessly on the party food because it might be several nights before you eat a proper meal again.
Dispense with your contact lenses to create immunity to the posters papering the hospital waiting area warning that your tiredness/aching limbs/confused brain/nightly lager are forerunners of an early death.
Rehearse a repertoire of lavatorial jokes to distract your small companion during the four hour stints in said waiting area.
Carry at all times a small pot of jelly beans with which to disarm flustered nurses.
Make up the spare room bed before the big day so that you do not disturb your slumbering spouse when you and the birthday boy stumble in from A&E at 1am.
Forewarn your workplace that you will require flexible deadlines for at least three days following the event.
See? Easy once you know how! And now, forearmed, you can relax and enjoy the unique bliss of mothering...