The Mom Stop: Pooped out over party planning
I’m not sure if my youngest daughter even remembers her last birthday — she is, after all, only 2-years-old.
She hasn’t even been to that many birthday parties, save for her brother and sister’s, and perhaps small family gatherings. Regardless, starting late last year, she started planning ... her next birthday party.
She may only be turning three, and her April birthday still may be 2.5 months away, but my toddler/soon-to-be preschooler is on a mission and knows what she wants: A princess party. Specifically, a princess party with an “Anna and Elsa” bouncy house castle and a princess cake.
You would think that there isn’t a “party planning gene” and that the habit is learned rather than inherited, but my youngest daughter has me wondering otherwise. Is it normal to start planning birthday parties before you’re fully potty trained?
While I doubt that I started so young, I remember sitting in church on Sundays, drawing pictures of dresses and making lists of party themes on the back of offertory envelopes. As a college student, I loved planning a good party, but my attention had turned to wedding plans. My college roommate and I would go to Wal-Mart to get the recent Bride magazine and we would stay up to the early hours of the morning ripping out pages to put in our “wedding” notebooks while watching romantic comedies on VHS and eating Krispy Kreme. It was a good six to seven years before either of us was even engaged, and well before either of us had even met the guys who we’d later marry.
But I do love to plan.
And while I love weddings, that phase of my life has passed, and the next best thing, I’ve discovered, are my kids’ birthdays. My son and I have birthdays only four days apart. My two girls have their birthdays only three days apart. And while it seems like it would make party planning easier, as the out-of-town family can just come for one weekend to celebrate both birthdays, the logistics can get messy.
Because of their age difference, it’s almost impossible to throw a themed birthday party that would appeal to both a 3-year-old and a 9-year-old. And so, instead, we have always had separate parties on the same day. Our youngest daughter has her party in the morning, the oldest has hers in the afternoon, and by evening, I’m such a frazzled, exhausted mess that the day can only be saved by Mexican cheese dip and margaritas for dinner.
I’ve learned a few things along the way. While I used to opt for in-home birthday parties when our oldest two kids were young, I’ve learned that out-of-home parties, while sometime expensive, are worth their weight in gold if it means I can avoid scrubbing leftover, red cupcake icing out of my dining room rug or vacuuming up crushed goldfish crackers sprinkled around my house.
Seven or eight years ago, I was all about hand-painting themed banners for my kid’s birthday, having themed food with cute little signs; I even hired a professional photographer to photograph my oldest’s first birthday party so I didn’t have to remember to take photos.
But several years and a few kids later, I’ve learned. We rarely have parties at home, and go elsewhere instead. We may do $5 pizzas and grocery store cupcakes, but the kids don’t notice the difference.
We’ll be simple and easy this year — princess bouncy castle and all.
— Lydia Seabol Avant writes The Mom Stop for The Tuscaloosa News in Alabama. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.