Emma Hollingworth: The party poopers who refuse to reply to my invitations

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Our household is in chaos this week – well more chaos than normal.

It is the eldest’s eighth birthday in just over a week’s time and you would think with all the planning, organising and general panicking that we were organising a Royal wedding.

After Christmas it seems a long time away until March to start getting ready for birthdays and other events. But the time does seem to disappear extraordinarily quickly.

It only seems two minutes since we organised last year’s birthday event for our daughter (a pony party). But despite being told exactly one year ago what she wanted to do for her birthday this year (a swimming party), have we been organised about it? No, of course not.

First of all we wanted to hold her party in the swimming pool down the road Both her and her brother have swimming lessons there every week so it seemed ideal.

Sadly, because it is attached to a school, it doesn’t do birthday parties.

Of course we only got round to finding out about this a few weeks ago so it was a mad scramble to find another venue which could host such an event. Luckily, another local pool was free and happy to have us.

Once booked the pressure seemed to lift. I organised invitations, complete with directions, to go with my daughter to school.

Foolishly I imagined it would just be a short time later that people would text me to say one way or another that their child was coming. Having three children and having gone through a rather large wedding a few years ago, I know how rubbish it is to have to wait until the last minute to confirm numbers.

It stops you being able to book anything properly. I remember with our wedding people had adequate time to confirm the date was suitable for them. Not only did we send out “Save the Date” cards about a year before (seriously!), we also made sure all invites were posted out more than four months before the big day.

Despite this, I remember frantically chasing people up - mostly the male variety it has to be said. The venue needed to confirm numbers in order to make sure enough food was available, not to mention staff.

Now I am in a similar quandary with this upcoming birthday party. There are at least two people who have not replied. I am assuming that it is because they are not coming, but it would have been polite for them to have let me know. I will budget for them just in case in terms of food. I did have an issue last year when arranging my son’s birthday party when three lots of guests turned up despite not having bothered to inform me they were coming.

This week has seen me frantically ordering the birthday cake (complete with pony emblem), party food, decorations and birthday presents. I am one for a bargain, so getting the right deal on all of the above was imperative to me, meaning it took longer than maybe was necessary to organise these things.

Now I am worried again. This time because one the things my daughter particularly asked for this year was a hand-held console. I have steered away from these in the past, not just because they are expensive but because I feared they may distract her from her studies.

However, I have cunningly bought a maths game to go with the device, which hopefully she will just see as a bit of fun without realising this is actually helping her to learn at the same time.

Although she is only in Year Three at school, her SATs exams are really only just around the corner. The school are already getting them into thinking about exam work by doing timed assessments. Managing her distractions is a key area of concern with my daughter. So it is great to see her getting used to the skill of managing her time effectively like this. It is now maybe my turn as a parent to start organising my time better – especially in the coming years when no doubt it will be me cracking the whip to get my daughter to do her revision.

Thankfully Sheffield City Council has been working with teachers across the city to provide a 10-week countdown to SATs guide for parents to help their children study more effectively. For more information visit: www.sheffield.gov.uk/sats