For most of my adult life, I have spent my New Year’s Eves with my friend Emily. We did when it when we were single, we did it when one of us was in a couple and the other wasn’t (that would be me), we did it when we were both coupled and now we do it with our kids.
On our very first New Year’s Eve with kids, Mazzy was less than a month old and Emily’s son Charlie was a month and a half. Her and her husband Matt brought Charlie over to our apartment and we hung out while the babies slept in our laps.
Champagne was limited because we were both breastfeeding at the time.
The next New Year’s Eve, both of us had our one-year-olds on strict sleep schedules and decided to skip the big night entirely, opting to spend the evening at home, just like a regular night. Mike and I didn’t even make it until the ball dropped. I call it “The lamest New Year’s Eve on Record.” I think we opened a bottle of wine and both promptly fell asleep.
The year after that Mike and I had a New Year’s Eve wedding and gladly ditched the kids at Grammy’s house. (I also almost got arrested by my dry cleaner, but that’s another story.)
The following year, Matt and Emily decided to test their luck with a small New Year’s Eve party at their place. All kids were invited because sitters were impossible to find.
The first thing we did when everyone got there was claim spots to put our toddlers to bed. Mazzy and Charlie in separate pack and plays in the master bedroom, another kid in the nursery and one in the guest room. The first half of the party was basically spent trying to get your kid to fall asleep in a strange room while the second half was figuring out whose kid was crying and then trying to put them to bed all over again.
But then at some point, everyone went quiet, leaving the adults to finally enjoy themselves.
Ahhhh!!!! We all thought. We have our New Year’s Eve back!!
But then, by the next year, at the same party, almost everyone had introduced a second child into the mix and things got difficult. We put the babies to bed while trying to control our toddlers and breastfed back and forth.
That night was not very much fun at all.
The next year at Emily and Matt’s was better because we didn’t even attempt to put the kids to bed. We just put on a movie in the other room and kept corralling them back to the television when they tried to hang with the adults.
By 10pm, most of the kids went batshit crazy but it was too late to try to put them down. I specifically remember Mazzy and Harlow both wailing on the car ride home because they were so overtired, I think they were literally in pain.
Last year, Emily scrapped her party and her family came out to our weekend house for New Year’s. We had fake New Year’s Eve a few hours early and put the kids to bed at a normal hour.
This New Year’s Eve, Emily and Matt attempted their party once again. There would be five couples with a total of nine children. The adults were to dress up and the kids were to come in pajamas.
Each family was required to bring one thing— a magic trick.
This worked perfectly for us since “magic” is a big topic in our house lately. Mazzy loves magic and I’ve convinced her that I’m a magician (usually by throwing things across the room when she isn’t looking). For Hanukah, I told Poppy to buy Mazzy a bunch of age appropriate magic tricks so we happened to be totally prepared when we got the invite. If you follow me on snapchat (ilanawiles), you probably saw us practicing.
I’ll do another post specifically about magic but the important thing to note here, is that “the Pot Luck Magic Show” (as I have just named it) ended up being a perfect way to make the party feel like we were all celebrating together, as opposed to shoving in the kids in one room (whether to sleep or otherwise) so the adults could act like adults.
I mean, the kids did go into the other room to watch TV at some points and largely played amongst themselves, but they were not an inconvenience to the real party at hand.
They had dessert with us and danced with us and made their own fun.
The grown-ups drank, talked, and watched how well our children all got along with pride. When the ball dropped, the kids celebrated with us and gave us kisses and then wanted to pass out mere minutes after midnight— just like the adults.
This was the first New Year everyone stayed up until the ball dropped without losing their minds. The older kids understood the significance of the night and the little kids appreciated the permission to eat sweets way past bed time.
This is the first year I felt like we all rang in the New Year as families.
And now, for the first time, I find myself really looking forward to celebrating more New Year’s Eves with the kids. You know, before they go off and try to have their own parties separate from their parents.
Because that’s totally gonna happen one day too soon.