Recently two darling friends of ours got married. They were kind and generous enough to tell us to bring our son along. This idea strikes fear in the hearts of most parents. You know that your child, even on his best days, can be a handful. You also recall what it was like to plan and execute a wedding. Therefore, the last thing you want is to have your worst nightmare take place: A poopsplotion near the cake; a screaming tantrum during the ceremony; a crawling photobomb during the first dance. Is bringing your child worth risking your friendship?
Most people would simply get a sitter. For us, that luxury wasn’t an option. Friends with children slightly older than ours were able to sneak away with the help of family, but even they had to turn around and make the over 2-hour trip back home that night to take care of the little ones. Those who think it’s simple to just hire help for a night out live in fantasy land. I’m pretty sure even rich moms have trouble getting a night out once in awhile.
So, how do you gauge whether or not to take your baby to the wedding? Every child is unique, but here are some general pointers to guide you in your decision-making:
Does your child enjoy people-watching? Fortunately my son loves people. Not sure if your kid will handle other people well in a non-active situation? Try taking him to a local diner for lunch. If he can’t handle sitting for fifteen minutes and watching life go by with relatively little comment, chances are he’s going to find a wedding unbearable.
Can your child stay up past his bedtime without turning into a monster? Our son is really attached to his bedtime. That being said, he’s also always up for a party. As it turned out, he fought his own urge to sleep so he could help keep the party going. Obviously, he eventually hit his wall and we left long before the party was over, but unlike the family seated next to us, we were able to enjoy the festivities past the main course.
Can your child fall asleep easily in a crowd? The alternative, of course, is to have a kid who can sleep through anything. Then you can pretty much party all night to your heart’s content as long as you bring pajamas and a night time diaper.
Is your child a talker, or a screamer? This is the big difference that can make or break your ability to actually attend the ceremony. If you don’t feel like riding out the wedding in the parking lot, you might want to re-think attending, or simply choose to attend the reception only.
Will you be in a baby-friendly environment? Weddings are held everywhere from formal religious establishments to casual campgrounds. Where are you going? Will you have an easy exit in case of a tantrum? Will your child have a safe space in which to burn off some steam? Will you have baby-friendly bathroom facilities to change diapers? If not, can you improvise an alternative easily enough? (Most parents can.)
Will you have backup? The last thing you want to do is attend a wedding alone with your child(ren). That’s a huge responsibility to take on when you’re also hoping to perhaps enjoy your evening and share some time with others. It’s an added bonus to know family and/or friends who take an interest in your child will also be there, just in case you need an extra set of hands in a pinch. Most parents aren’t Jeannie Gaffigan; they’re not going to have the mental energy (or physical) to take their kids to a wedding by themselves. Don’t turn someone’s happiest day of their life into your most miserable memory.