Birthday parties and play dates: Drop off or stay?

Birthday parties & play dates: Drop off or stay?

Over the years, my children have been invited to quite a few birthday party celebrations and play dates. As they get older, I am starting to wonder if it’s expected for me to hang around or just to drop off?

Birthday parties and play dates: Drop off or stay?

Every time we attend a birthday party or play date I notice that the quote of parents who drop off their children and those who stay are about even. The seems to be no clear etiquette for these situations just personal preference.

I am one of those moms who prefer to stay when my children attend a birthday party or play date. Unless otherwise stated on the invitation and even then there are certain factors I take into consideration.

The benefits of a drop off

Doing a drop has many benefits for parents:

  • You can use the two free hours to run your errands. Everything gets done so much quicker without the kids in tow.
  • You can use the free time to relax. I’d consider it pure bliss to visit a friend or read a book for two hours of uninterrupted mommy time!
  • You can use the time to bond with your other children. Children sometimes need some mommy or daddy alone time and a play date or birthday party that keeps one child away from home is the perfect opportunity for this.
  • Older children will enjoy the independence of being out without their own parents supervision.
  • Older children sometimes need a “time out” from their siblings. As much as they love each other, children sometimes need time apart too especially older siblings!

The trouble with drop offs

In the old days, a drop off at birthday parties and play dates was expected. These days, child abductions are unfortunately a reality and you can’t be too careful with the safety of your children.

With this in mind, consider the following:

  • How secure is the venue. If the party or play date is at a public venue and not a private home the risks increase. Children can get lost or worse at a public venue.
  • How many adults are looking after the children. Most parties only have a mom and dad hosting the party and looking after all the children. If it’s a big group you can’t guarantee that your child will personally be looked after. Especially if the host parents are busy organizing the party, it’s not always possible to personally be there to watch over each and every child at the party.
  • Is your child an introvert. Your child might prefer you to stay in order to feel confident enough in a group to enjoy the party/play date. Your child might want you to stay just until he feels comfortable and starts enjoying the party like my older child.
  • Will there be swimming. My children are not strong swimmers yet. I can’t trust they they will be careful enough to put on all their safety equipment before venturing into the water.

My personal choice is to accompany my children everywhere.

There have been exceptions lately where my older child has attended play dates on his own. He enjoys a bit of  independence and a few hours with friends his age. However, he is always in the care of other parents that I trust.

Whether you prefer drop offs or play dates there are valid arguments on both sides. However, keeping your child safe is trumps everything. If you are in doubt of you should do, rather just hang around. It’s usually only for a few hours and it will give you peace of mind.

Do you stay or do drop offs? Leave a comment below. 


Anthea O'Neill is a wife and proud mom of three. She is front-end web developer, blogger and a self-proclaimed glitter & yarn addict. Anthea's Project Life is a blog for the modern mom.

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  1. My son is grown now and supervises himself, I hope. However, when he was young, I tended to take my cue from my son. If I was taking him to someone’s home, as long as I knew the parents and my son stated to me that he was comfortable going by himself, then I would drop him off. However, the first couple of years, I would accompany him. Once he began to ask if he could go by himself or TOLD me that he could, then I knew it was time to respect his wishes and allow him some independence. If he was invited out somewhere public, then I usually stayed until he got to be older.

  2. Totally depends on age and the people they are with. I do k=however love it that these days we have almost 100% drop off but also take into account that the friends are turning 9 and 11

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