Sensory savvy tips for birthday parties

Posted: 20 May, 2016

By: Annabella Sequeira

Section: Education, Parenting

Sensory savvy tips for birthday parties

My oldest son, Lukas, turned 9 years old yesterday. We had 13 boys at my house whooshing down the waterslide and giving me the fright of my life. I am not the faint-hearted type but could see myself rushing to the hospital with a broken arm or something. Thanks goodness, after 3 hours of fun and boisterous testosterone I could send them all home unscathed and sat down with a relieved sigh to have a chilled glass of wine with a friend.

I looked at these 13 boys playing and was again reminded of the fact that they just want to play. The occupation of children is PLAY! Do we really give them enough time, space and opportunity to do this? I think not. Therefore, since we are all hopefully unwinding towards the end of another year, I am going to dedicate this blog to harnessing the ability to play for our children during the holidays.

Use the senses to have fun and stimulate your child’s development at the same time:

  • Have a sensory party:
    When Lukas turned 3, I organized him a “sensory party”. I bought a few cans of shaving cream (among a few other sensory tricks up my sleeve) and after stripping down to the bare basics the boys were white from head to toes; and loving every second of it.
  • Less is more:
    Believe it or not, I think birthday parties are some of the most sensory overloaded activities for children. And although some may love it, our sensory sensitive souls find it extremely anxiety provoking and often kick up a huge fuss about it. To top it all, they get fed loads of sugar, preservatives and junk which further exaggerate the problem. Therefore to make birthday parties easier for them:

    • Go for smaller birthday parties or outside in nature which are not so noisy
    • Feed your kids before the party; they will eat less junk
    • Go first and leave first – that way your child can ease into it and withdraw when it gets too much
    • Outside birthday parties are also easier to deal with than inside.  The sensory overload and related noise levels are often lower when outside in nature rather in a building.

Birthday parties should be fun – consider your child’s needs carefully when arranging it for them or taking them as guests.