I find that a big part of parenting, and one I have struggled with at certain times too, is deciding what traditions and expectations we want to establish within our family unit. One topic that troubled me a lot early on was Birthdays…parties yes or no, cakes, gifts… what would work for us, what did we want our kids to grow up expecting on these occasions, how did we want to celebrate it with them? Its hard not to be influenced by what others choose to do and I wanted to make these decisions whilst they were young so they would know what we did in our family early on. I wanted to make sure that I chose something that made them feel special, gave balance and provided fun too, but without being a stressful affair or costing a bomb every birthday…especially if we have several kids to think about.
I have mentioned before here on the blog and numerous times in person to mum friends and family, that we have a thing now in our family whereby we only allow our kids a birthday party every other year. We started this on their second birthday, because lets face it, as if a 1 year old really knows what’s going on, and it then falls on even birthdays. In between they have a special day out with the family or can choose to do something out of the ordinary and a little bit special. Every year they have a birthday breakfast and tea, home-made cake, and I buy them a lot of what they want because I want to make it about them (this doesn’t apply at Christmas so I make the most of it on Birthdays). Our reasons for this is because we want them to learn that Birthdays can be celebrated in different ways, and that doing something fun, or a special day out is just as great as having a party. I also want them to appreciate that parties are quite costly and so will be limited, they don’t need a party every birthday, but will have a special tea and cake, and no matter how tacky that cake looks or how long it takes, mummy will make them a cake for their birthday and buy them some lovely things that they are into at the point in life.
We are fortunate that the kids were all born on even years and so this means that party year is the same for them all (bonus) … It is fun to see them planning it all out, choosing who to invite, deciding on the menu, games and general theme of it. I am glad its only every other year, because other than the pure work of organising it and all there is to think about, I can see they really think about it because its more of a rarity! This year as Megan turned 4, and being the animal and “rubble” lover that she is, she was adamant for months previous that it was going to be a “Paw Patrol Party”; with a Paw patrol cake, Jam sandwiches and cheese sandwiches, a bouncy castle and party bags (DON’T forget party bags for the fwends)… we were going to play musical statues and pass the parcel, and the guest list was very specific, even down to naming people she didn’t want there (awkward). It was a task that although tiring made me feel like super mum too!
I made the cake which seemed to be better than my previous years attempts (thanks you tube) and which she LOVED! Found a cute cupcake idea on Pinterest, decorated with Paw patrol accessories from Smyths, and hired a local bouncy castle. It was a lovely day with friends and some of the family, a few tears, popped balloons, trampled crisps and a very happy little lady who adored it all, and is already planning her 6th Birthday party (?!?!??!!?)! The efforts and work were certainly all worth it, but I am also so happy with the balance we have established with only doing them every other year. It makes me happy that they have the consistency of a birthday breakfast, dinner and personalised cake by mum, and I love that next year (and in between the madness of parties) there will be chilled adventures as a family that they have chosen…can’t wait to see where we end up!