PARENTING | If Carlsberg did kids parties…
It’s his ‘favourite place’ on bad weather days. I’ve tried to coerce him into favouring a more salubrious venue when it’s pissing it down and I need to get them out of the house, but he’s always hell-bent on spending a few hours in amongst the skin particles, bogeys, rotting hot dog ends and decomposing fish fingers in the ball pool at ‘The Wacky’. It’s my idea of absolute hell – I’d go as far as to say I’d rather tattoo my eyeballs than sit on a sticky, battered old leatherette sofa in The Wacky Warehouse watching my children dive headfirst into the Noruvirus.
I can recall several episodes whereby we’ve been abruptly woken to the sound of my children retching. Resulting in 3am bed sheet-stripping and showers and most definitely the result of some ghastly bug that has inevitably been caught in some frightful soft play gym the previous day.
Don’t get me wrong, I hold nothing against the parents that frequent such establishments. I know only too well that on a rainy day these places are a bloody godsend. But they also fill the obsessive, compulsive, germ-free fanatic in me with utter horror.
Twice a year, as my children’s birthdays approach, I live in terror of the words “Mummy – can I have my party at Wacky Warehouse please?”. I have, until now, thrown all my children’s birthday parties in the comfort on our own home. Not just because of my aversion to play gyms, but because I have been known to be one of those over-the-top twatty mum-types when it comes to my children’s parties, or any occasion for that matter that brings with it an opportunity to host a little soiree in our family home. Much to the irritation of my husband who more often than not, arrives home several times a week to find a gaggle of other people’s children uncontrollably racing round our house whilst their mums and I clear the contents of our wine fridge.
Luckily we live in a lovely little pocket of Yorkshire that has a number of fabulous options for children’s parties. Clip ‘n’ Climb in Ilkley is a firm favourite for little people (and big people) with a head for heights. We have a number of wonderful (and I expect regularly disinfected) play barns and play gyms. Indoor football parties are popular and we also have a very respectable local members club call The Menstone that has a delightful space for children who might request a magician, a reptile handler or Elsa herself. Long gone are the days of a personal appearance from Ronald McDonald and a Happy Meal on the train table. And pass the parcel and musical chairs don’t cut it anymore it seems.
Still, even with so many options, deciding on a party theme and venue for our offspring can be an arduous task. Throwing a party at home comes with so many potential disasters and the pressure to keep a dozen six year olds entertained for two hours in an organised and controlled way is immense. Visions of pretty bunting, dozens of balloons, a Piñata, jelly and ice cream, cucumber sandwiches and a civilised game of pass-the-parcel are replaced with the reality of half the kids upstairs bouncing on your king-sized bed in their muddy shoes. Burnt sausage rolls, unset Jelly, a livid, scowling, muttering-under-his-breath husband, who, if he’d of had his way, would be throwing the damn party at The Wacky, and me too pissed to care because I poured my first glass of prosecco at 11am. Party kicked off at four. Still, for me there is something special about throwing my kid’s parties at home.
So what if there was some fairy godmother of children’s birthday parties? Someone who could come into your home, entertain your children for the best part of two hours, all whilst they learn practical skills and use their imagination and exercise their creativity? And what if she cleared all the mess up after?
What if you could sit around the breakfast bar, or, even better, in another room sipping processo with your fellow yummy-mummies safe in the knowledge that they will be leaving the party with nothing but praise for your choice of party entertainment. It not only ticks so many ‘learning’ boxes, but also keeps hyper Harry, Lyndon, Teddy, Charlie, Sophia, Ferne and Luke (ranging from two to eight years old) completely under control and engaged for over two whole hours!
Emily, the owner of a genius concept called Mighty Chefs in Ilkley, West Yorkshire rocked up at my house one Friday afternoon in the half-term holidays with her two lovely young helpers and wasted no time in turning my kitchen-diner into a scene out of Ready-Steady-Cook.
Quicker than it takes to say “red pepper or green tomato” my dining room table was turned into a workstation of mixing bowls, wooden spoons, cup cake cases, and little bowls filled with various ingredients ready for a Mighty Chefs cookery class.
But before the kids got to whip up a tray of muffins they were all handed a white paper chef’s hat and a job lot of felt-tip pens and told to personalise and decorate them. Hats and matching aprons on and all looking like butter wouldn’t melt, Emily ushers our little sprogs to their seats and starts to talk them through the ingredients and various instruments in front of them.
Immediately engaging them all by asking them to sniff a range of pots of spices and identify various bits and bobs on the table prompting them into discussion; it’s straight away apparent that the Mighty Chefs concept is so much more than whipping up a Victoria Sponge mix and licking the bowl out.
The sessions give children the opportunity to learn, create, cook and taste in a hands-on and fun way.
Emily walked the children through two recipes and encouraged them to touch, smell, taste, and talk about what they were creating. Her mission is to introduce children to cooking whist enjoying honest and nutritious food. Who’d of thought that a chocolate truffle spider made almost entirely out of dates could be so bloody delicious!
Emily wholeheartedly believes that by enabling children to start cooking from an early age, they are encouraged to make wider food choices whilst gaining key life skills.
As well as walking them step-by-step through two delicious recipes to include the chocolate truffle spiders and some absolutely delicious pumpkin muffins, the kids were encouraged to decorate their own bags in which to take their creations home.
Meanwhile ‘super-mum’ here gains the reputation of exactly that by throwing a kids party that ticked every single box going. They even take care of the washing up and clearing away too!
It’s quite simply the future.
A massive thank you to Emily for hosting a party for my son and his besties. If you want to find out more about the Mighty Chefs concept for both private parties (at home or at a venue of your choice), or for your local playgroup, school of kids club then click here.
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I’m a primary school teacher and I’m a mum to a beautiful, bright and bubbly six-year-old. I witness the ups and downs of wellbeing in children every day. Every parent faces the same dilemma – how to ensure the wellbeing of our children – particularly from a mental health perspective in a world that is more pressured than ever in more ways than one.
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