Saturday, 21 February 2009

Child Free Weddings

There's always such a fuss about children at weddings. In these times, it seems to be the trend to not invite children to weddings. The principle reason tends to be guest numbers and how hotels charge and cater for kids. Depending on how many of your nearest and dearest have small children this can be very expensive. Some venues charge obscene prices for children over 5 plus the cut off price for the adult rate kicks in as young as 10 years of age. Whether numbers are tight due to budget or tough choices on guest priority, the question of children attending is not easy.

A blanket decision of all kids or no kids is most likely the easiest way. Annoyingly there will always be some who forget whose day it is and take exception to the decision (whatever it is). Usually, parents have several options and adequate time to prepare themselves.

Leaving young babies is always going to be hard, especially for breastfeeding mothers. Luckily, our daughter is nearly five months, so leaving her today wasn't too difficult. We're away from home but with family, so had plenty of old family friends queuing up to care for her. I packed a bag full of equipment, feed, spare clothes and a 'what to do' guide. We are a virtually routine-free family, which makes things easier to explain to babysitters. Writing down some helpful notes became 'instructions for my child'. I didn't want to sound like control freak mummy but wanted to ensure they were prepared for all eventualities. I say 'virtually' routine free as i realised on writing the notes she has her own little pattern of sleeping and feeding. For all your concerns you have to remember a key thing; we figured it out all by ourselves so our chosen carers who have done it with their own kids will cope just as well. They even figured out how to work the buggy!

For the first thirty minutes after she left the house, I felt like a spare part. That nagging feeling I should be checking on her or washing something. Then I made a concious effort to put her out of my mind and focus on the day. It was glorious! I had adult conversations that weren't centered around motherhood, fussed over other people who needed help and weren't under 1 years if age! I put a lot of effort into not becoming a baby bore.

The wedding didn't lack anything either by not having children there. Some people feel that weddings are family occasions and should include all. Fair point, but I also saw many parents and grandparents engaging with each other intently as they didn't have one eye on their offspring. I began to realise that new memories were being made, friendships reinforced as people were able to truly listen to one another. This is important too, for without this support network I know I wouldn't cope so easily being a mother.

As it approached the time to go and collect her, I was torn. I didn't have to go, I could have stayed. Deep down I wanted to see her, I think because it was the first time we had left her for so long with anyone. I never wanted to be one of those parents whose social life revolved around their kids and I hardly ever leave a party early. It felt odd, such an anti-climax. Until I walked in the door of our friends house and was greeted by a big beaming smile from my daughter. She had been a delight, so much so, our friends didn't want to let her go. What a compliment to my daughter and reassuring experience for us.

Now I can't wait for the next time. I'm of the view that the few hours without my baby helped me clear my mind and relax. At 5 months it feels like the right time for her to spend more time alone with family or friends.

I reckon I'm not the only parent who feels this way either. So provided childcare isn't a logistical issue, child free weddings can be hassle free and contented parent friendly.

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