Back in June I hosted my first ever hen do and also happened to have a 9 week old child with me. Prior to that, I googled and googled hoping to find a shred of advice on how to host a hen do with a newborn and found nothing, ziltch, nadda. Luckily, my pre-maternity leave job requires me to be super organised, so I honed on that skill and planned a weekend that was a 4 hour drive away. I can honestly say that it was a great hen do -guests loved it, bride raved about it, I wasn’t totally exhausted at the end of it and importantly the little man enjoyed a little break away.
So below I’ve written down some of the things I thought worked well for me along the way. It isn’t a complete guide on how to plan a hen do but I hope that if you are in the same position this will be a good starting point.
Plan early – like super early
As soon as you know you’re the one organising the hen do, start planning. Don’t put it off. Tell that Instant Gratification Monkey to back down (have no idea what I’m on about click here for Wait but Why’s post on procrastination – explained a lot of things for me!).
I started planning a year before the hen… bit excessive I know, but it helped me get guests to commit, and I also knew that when I had my newborn I’d have next to no free time to do anything apart from look after myself and the little man.
Below is a rough timeline of when I booked/confirmed the main things.
- 11 months to go – confirmed all guests attending, confirmed who’d want to help plan
- 8 months to go – confirmed location
- 7 months to go – confirmed accommodation
- 6 months to go – guests paid for accommodation
- 5 months to go – confirmed activities, organise weekend timeline
- 2 months to go – guests paid for activities and activities booked, enlisted people to help
- 1 month to go – online food shop done and confirmed delivery to hen-house, travel to location planned
- 0 months to go – enjoy!
I must admit the above timeline could be drastically improved (probably helps if you book activities and accommodation in one go!) but that’s what I went with and it worked.
Get someone to look after the baby
Whether that be your partner, mum, dad, or friend, get someone to look after the baby for duration. It needs to be someone who isn’t involved in the hen do, and who you fully trust your baby with. For the most part, hen dos aren’t baby friendly and if you’re hosting there’s no question about it you need to be around the majority of the duration whether that’s a day or a weekend. You’ll need someone to help you take care of the little person. So, you can either leave your baby at home with that someone or bring the baby with you on the hen do and have someone looking after them close by.
I was breastfeeding at the time so my hubby entertained the little man, and when the baby needed a feed I got a call. Some of my breastfeeding friends had their partner follow them around or stay close by so the baby could feed when needed.
Again, planning is key. Plan the day with your someone so they know when you’re around and contactable, and when you’re in a cave somewhere and can’t be reached at all (true story). This will mentally prepare them for their responsibilities during that time i.e. if worst comes to worst and your baby starts screaming and your down that cave, they know how long they have till you come back to settle the baby. Planning makes you feel better as well, as you know when you have time with your newborn over the weekend.
TIP: If you’re breastfeeding make sure you take some expressed breast milk or formula milk (whatever your preference) so that if you’re not around, your someone can try to feed the baby to help settle them.
Enlist a co-organiser(s)
I would not have made it through the hen do if I didn’t have people helping me out. Early on I asked if people wanted to help plan any games and cook food so I knew I had a list of people to call. As the date of the hen do got closer it became apparent to me that I couldn’t be there for the whole of it (see “Give yourself a break”). I asked the bride to nominate someone she thought could help me run things over the weekend when I was indispose. I had a couple of conversations with my co-organiser prior to the hen weekend so she knew exactly what activities she would be running.
My co-organiser was fantastic and all the activities went smoothly. In addition, all the people who had said they wanted to help meant that some of the organisation and running the activity pressure was off me (it’s hard organising games on top of the hen!).
Your mobile is your friend
We had a whatsapp group running over the weekend so if there were any important events going on I could drop people a quick message and let them know timings rather than physically trying to round people up. It really helped as I think some people got lost at one point! Also, it was a great way to share photos on the day and afterwards.
Stay near but not in the house
This point is key. If you’re renting out a big cottage like we did, you want to stay close by so you nip in and out of the activities at the house with minimal fuss. It will be hard for your baby to settle with the noise generated by the hen and also your someone probably won’t have much fun if they’re cooped up in a little room in a house full of tipsy girls. The site we stayed at a large holiday cottage with smaller lodges within a minutes walking distance which was perfect for us.
If you’re staying at a hotel, then get a separate room.
I nipped in and out when the baby needed a feed, or my someone was having trouble settling them. I sometimes bought my baby into the hen-house when I wanted my someone to have a break (when the timing was appropriate i.e. not in the middle of games!), and there was much cooing done by the other hens!
Give yourself a break
In reality, if you go on a hen do with a newborn it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to participate in all the activities. During the newborn phase, sometimes it’s only Mum that can settle them and your someone will appreciate a break. If you’re breastfeeding it can be exhausting during the early months and you’ve probably not had much sleep because the little one is waking up every few hours. They’ll appreciate all the mummy cuddles during this time and will help them settle for the rest of the weekend.
Give yourself a few breaks throughout the weekend to spend with your newborn, and rely on your co-organiser to do their job. Have a chat to the bride before so she knows what the deal is, and as your best friend I’m sure she’ll be understanding.
On the Saturday I made a quick depart after lunch, and missed all of activity 2. This allowed me to spend some much needed time with my little dude and give him lots of cuddles, and allowed me to prep for the meal that evening. I used the whatsapp group to check-in with people if I needed but to be honest, no one even noticed I wasn’t there as they were having too much fun!
Yes, it is challenging hosting a hen with a newborn but it’s completely doable. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and to rely on other people. Plan early, and once you’re there, enjoy the weekend and go with the flow.
P.S. Want to know what I organised?
My bride was the adventrous kind so this hen do is tailored to her.
- Weekend away in Cheddar and stayed at Tor Farm.
- Saturday Activity 1 – Caving
- Saturday Activity 2 – Go Karting
- Friday – Got a couple of people to prepare food and bring to house to warm up
- Saturday – Lunch out, and BBQ for dinner
- Sunday – Big brunch