Congratulations! You’ve planned your kid’s escape room birthday party. The kids are assembled, the waivers are signed, the bathroom has been used and the hands have been washed. You are now entering an escape room with a bunch of children. Here are our tips for making sure everyone has fun and your hair remains in your head.
This isn’t YOUR birthday party, parent
We think the only massive mistake you can make is to start running around solving all the puzzles yourself. In this room, you are only a helper.
Fill the needs of the team
You are there to identify needs, then fill them. In our experience, Emily has found herself sitting with a kid who was unexpectedly afraid of the we-need-to-defuse-this-bomb theme, eventually finding a way for her to participate. Peter has helped with puzzle components that were hard for kids to reach. We’ve both helped with puzzles containing references that are obvious to an adult but maybe unfamiliar to a 10-year-old.
Focus on safety
The adults’ number 1 job is keeping the kids–and the room–as undamaged as possible. Make sure no kids are climbing where they shouldn’t, swinging candlesticks around, fighting over props, etc. At the same time, make sure the kids aren’t destroying the set, trying to pull up things that are glued down, ripping off baseboards, etc.
Designate an adult as the hint coordinator
We’ve experienced both extremes: a group of kids that forgot they could ask for hints, and a group of kids who decided that part of the fun was asking the gamemaster if literally everything they wanted to do was a good idea. Be the liaison.
Keep an eye on the clock
Kids often aren’t that great at time management. There is a time to let them explore on their own, but eventually it might be time to more actively assign some tasks, or even co-solve with a kid or two.
Redirect when needed
Does the group scatter to different areas to work on separate puzzles at the same time? Remind the kids to share their discoveries. Do they all stand around in a group watching 1 person work on a padlock? Encourage them to explore the space. Kids will surprise you. One room we did had a puzzle involving symbols on some t-shirts that were hanging on a rack. Several children decided that the way to solve that puzzle was to have multiple kids stick their heads inside the t-shirts from the bottom and then… just stand there. It was time to step in, and suggest that the printing on the front of the shirt might be a bit more helpful.
The birthday celebrant might not get the big moment
Kids get excited. That’s a good thing. But it will also lead to things that you can’t control. At the end of one room, there was a Big Red Button to push. One of our kid’s friends yelled “the birthday boy gets to push the button!” but then almost immediately got too excited and pushed it himself. So prepare your kid, they might not get to push every button, or even see every puzzle. The important thing is to just have fun!