This weekend sees the first ever show event for parents of school-aged children, Mums Show Live! Olivia Gordon visited the show at Alexandra Palace in north London to see what it's like.
We are a nation of show-lovers. In the last couple of years I've been to home shows, baby shows, stitch craft shows and antique shows.
Often, they are disappointing - visitors trek across the country, and pay a hefty entrance fee, essentially for the chance to be given a hard sell.You could say a show is just a glorified market - but then again, the draw is in the niche of each market. Shows aren't just about buying things; they're about a shopping experience - and there are often inspirational workshops or talks, celebrities, and activities to make it worth a day out.
The newest show is Mums Show Live! and it certainly has its niche - parents of over-fives haven't yet been targeted with their own specific show.
The co-founder, food blogger Dom Franks, says he spotted this gap in the market for parents 'left alone' after attending baby shows.
He says: "Your kid's not a baby any more, you've got to find schools, talk to them about sex, and you have time to yourself to take more care of yourself, maybe think about starting your own business."
If the show takes off with parents who relate to this, he hopes Mums Show Live will be an annual event and even roll out across the country.
On its first day yesterday, it was clear parents weren't coming to Mums Show Live! yet, despite a lot of publicity - presumably most are planning to come at the weekend. The usual experience of jostling crowds at shows was a distant memory here, as visitors were gazed at longingly by stall-holders.
There are, of course, the usual random stalls selling tat which you get at all shows. But there are also a great range of stalls to browse - including kids' clothes, furniture, toys, educational materials, a handful of local schools and even adoption and fostering agencies. Because the show runs into the evening, it's a good chance to do some late-night shopping.
For mums there are beauty treatments and a wine station, and for children there's a fun play area with plenty of activities on offer, trampolines to bounce on, and a scooter area.
The challenge of bringing children to a show has been well thought out, so there's a buggy park, friendly and helpful staff, and lots of sofas to collapse on. But on my visit, I saw just a few children at the show.
What should make this event really special are the two 'theatres' - there's the inspiration theatre where you can learn advanced blogging or how to understand your child, and there's the conversation theatre where experts speak about everything from 'getting mummy yummy' to sibling rivalry to being a 'mumpreneur'.
Sadly, on my visit, there were a few teething problems. Along with a few others, I waited 15 minutes for the advertised clown class to start at the inspiration theatre - the class was supposed to teach parents how to be a children's party clown to save money on hiring one. I'm not a shy person but even I was scared into sneaking away by the clown, who was way too aggressive when it came to audience participation when he did finally get going.
I hoped for better luck at the conversation theatre, arriving a few minutes before a seminar on children and safe internet use was due to start. Twenty minutes later, the handful of us in the room were still waiting, while on the stage, the speakers and organisers chatted among themselves, completely oblivious to their eye-rolling audience.
One disconcerted mother said to me: "I've booked a babysitter to come to this show for two hours".
It was only day one, and hopefully there will be some lively bustle this weekend, and more attention paid to audiences in both theatres, because there are so many excellent speakers coming up, and so many interesting exhibitors.
Our overall verdict? Well worth a visit.
For prices and information, go to Mums Show Live.