I used to laugh at my mother for getting misty-eyed over the milestones of my brothers and I. To us, the changes we were going through were no big deal, but to her they were special. After the birth of my daughter, I understood. Watching your child grow up comes with a mixed bag of emotions that can sometimes be overwhelming.
Yesterday, my daughter turned five. For weeks leading up to her birthday, I struggled to wrap my head around it. In fact, I still haven’t quite comes to terms with it. What happened to that adorable squishy baby I brought home from the hospital? Who replaced her with this big girl?
It’s a strange feeling, mourning the loss of the precious baby and toddler stages while welcoming the new challenges that lie ahead.
With so many things to look forward to, I can safely say that planning more birthday parties is not one of them. They’re expensive. They’re time consuming. And they come with way too many people.
However, it’s a necessary evil that I will endure year after year to ensure my daughter has happy memories. While her birthday party isn’t until this weekend, I have learned a few things about kids’ birthday parties over the years.
1. For the first few years, the theme is really for us.
Seriously, when they are little they really don’t care about the decorations. They don’t notice the honey pots you made for their Winnie The Pooh birthday, or the color coordination of the table cloth and napkins. The perfect icing on the cake is ignored in favor of the promise of a tasty treat, and honestly, it’s going to be cut soon anyway.
I’m not saying to avoid doing a theme altogether or anything like that. However, I think it’s important to keep these things in mind so that we don’t stress ourselves out over nothing. Of course we all want to do our best and make the day special, just remember an anxious mother fretting over streamer placement doesn’t exactly add to the magic.
2. Facebook is the best thing ever.
People rarely call to RSVP, but they will usually check off the little box on Facebook, which makes it easy to get a fairly accurate headcount. It’s so easy to set up your event and make sure that everyone is on the same page, I don’t know why paper invites are even a thing anymore!
3. Someone needs to be in charge.
Admittedly, this is usually my mother. I am terrible at directing droves of small people, and I’m not a fan of speaking in front of people in general. I usually make my mom be the one to keep things moving and make announcements, such as when it’s time for games, cake, and presents. If only she could be the one reading the cards and saying thank you to everyone as each gift is open!
4. Managing the influx of gifts is much easier if you start with a clean bedroom.
The first few years, I simply had the party, carted the gifts back home, and began stressing over where to put everything. As the amount of toys and clothes in my daughter’s room grew, I found myself stressing more and more over how to keep it all organized. By the time she turned three, I realized why my mother had us go through our toys before birthdays and Christmas.
Now, I make sure I thoroughly clean and declutter her room before the party to make room for all her new things. It’s so much easier than letting it pile up! Once the party is over and everything has been cleaned up, all the new toys can be added to the menagerie with little hassle.
Speaking of gifts…
5. Kids don’t need as much stuff as we think they do!
Seriously, they just wrack up the clutter as time goes on. With multiple people buying gifts, one or two gifts from mom and dad is perfect. Most of the stuff won’t be played with in a matter of days anyway.
What I’ve found, is that asking for a few things she needs as well as things she wants is a great way of keeping the clutter in check. Since my daughter’s birthday is in the fall, one of her gifts is usually her winter coat and boots, plus some clothes. I also make a point to ask for books and art supplies, since we can always use those! Of course, I still want her to get fun stuff, but it’s nice to find a good balance between things that will get used and things that will wind up in the bottom of the toy box.
In the end, we must find ways to make the festivities manageable and keep ourselves from getting stressed out. Keep the focus on the kids and your sanity and it will turn out great! Remember, we are celebrating another trip around the sun for our little ones, it should be about fun and love.
I hope you find these tips helpful! If you have any tips of your own, please, leave them in the comments below!