Saturday, October 2, 2010

Parenting with less stress {Celebrating Birthdays}

 We celebrated our oldest childs' 11th birthday this week (as well as Ken's). It was a pretty laid back celebration but it was fun and it was genuine. It started me thinking about why we celebrate the way we do.

 We have made some choices concerning our children's birthdays that are not really typical but they have worked well for us. We have never had one of those birthday parties where we send out cute little invitations, prepare a bunch of little favor bags and then have a houseful (or restaurant) of little kids. I don't think there is anything wrong with that sort of thing but we do have our reasons for doing things differently.

  I thought I would share what we do and why. Not to make you feel guilty if it is different from you, nor to have you feel sorry for us or our kids if that is your reaction. I simply thought I would share so if you were wondering if it would work to scale things back and if others have done it, then you will know that the answer is "Yes!" and it works and we have fun with less stress.

What we do:
  • We give gifts (usually fairly simple, often homemade) in the morning before breakfast.
  • The Birthday person gets to pick the menu for the day.
  • We have a birthday cake. The Birthday person chooses what they want and usually I bake it (unless my Mom or sister does).
  • We have my parents and siblings over and every so often somebody else of our friends from church.
  • We often alter our schedule a little in a effort to do some fun activity. Not necessarily hard or expensive. For Mara's birthday we had a picnic for Ken's we played games and he came home a little early to play catch with the boys.
 We have chosen not to do the normal party thing. I have some reasons on why we have made that decision. You may or may not agree with me and that is perfectly fine but I thought I would share.

  • I don't really like all of the gifts that come with big parties where you invite lots of other kids. We try to keep the number of toys that we own within a reasonable number, and really try to have ones that they truly enjoy and use. My observation of normal birthday parties is that the birthday child gets tons of toys that may or may not be his/her style.
  • We haven't allotted  the time or money for the big parties. We could I suppose (though I know the parties I have seen around here can cost a lot when you rent out a pool or whatever) but we have chosen to use our time and money in ways that we enjoy more.
  • I have observed children that were totally overwhelmed by parties given for them. To many people, to many gifts and so on. I didn't want that for my kids.

 I guess what it all comes down to is I like simplicity and I don't like waste. I know not every birthday party is that way and I have seen some super cute ideas out there (that do tempt me for a minute to throw a party!) but over all what we do works for us and I am quite happy.

Now I am curious, what do you do in your family? Why have you made the decisions that you did?



TopazTook said...

We only have one child, and did a "friends" birthday party this year for the first time (age 4). Some reasons were: we don't have much family around here; we want to encourage our only child to make and sustain friendships; it was an opportunity to get to know a little better a few girls from the neighborhood she had recently started playing with; she was starting to get invited to parties and we wanted to establish early that in-home parties can be fun; she asked for it, and it was fun!

It was at our place, with simple outside games (e.g., duck, duck, goose), a birthday cake I let her help decorate -- because it was her birthday, who cares if it didn't look "magazine perfect"? -- an easy craft, storytime (with library books) and free play.

Parents were pretty good about asking for suggestions on gifts, and we go through right after birthday and Christmas anyway and donate toys that are no longer played with.

All in a Day said...

Most of the time our parties are like this. We have, however, done more for certain kids at certain ages (depending on likes, socialization, etc.) I think the favorite parties were those at the pool. :)

Anonymous said...

I really like your reasoning; you are helping me to re-think some things!


Abbi said...

TT- I can understand why with an only child you would be more likely to want a party. It sounds like you had a fun and simple one too.

Obviously we are all different and different solutions work for each of us. Thanks for sharing what has worked for you!

Anonymous said...

We tried a few big parties and decided that it might not overwhelm the kids but mom is another story. 4 of our children share birthdays so we have made a limit of one friend per child to celebrate their b-day. We might do a "party" one year and then nothing the next. Same with cakes - one year it might be fancy and the next year not so fancy. We try to keep it simple cuz we found out the hard way that it's really time consuming and chaotic with bigger parties.
-someone in N. Dakota


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