Ah, kid birthday parties...
You either love them or dread them.
In fact, 71 percent of parents globally agree that birthday planning is stressful, according to a 2017 Netflix study of 14,580 parents of children aged 8 or younger, and 71 percent want an easier way to make their kids' birthdays feel special.
Personally, I love throwing big birthday parties, and I try to streamline as much as possible before the big day. I purchase and stuff the piñata, order the buttercream cake and online shop for decorations and balloons. All of it is done and placed in my hallway closet weeks before the big day.
Then the day comes and holy crap I’m over it.
I spend so much time planning and talking the event up to my child that when it’s finally here, I wish nothing more for it to be done — to be just a flutter of my past. I generally move the birthday party along as fast as possible because my anxiety decides to take the wheel. Apparently, a room full of children with streamers really sets my sweat glands in overdrive.
A few weeks ago, we celebrated my daughter's birthday. We found a great venue, had a party helper in tow, had great RSVP responses and everything was planned out ahead of time.
Here’s how the party was supposed to go:
The first half was to be with the party helpers. With the kids entertained, I would then hang out with my adult friends and chill out. The second half of the party would be for cake and presents — my only real responsibility.
Well, I made it almost 20 minutes from the start of the party before we zoomed through the last half of the party. I’m not even sure how I cut the cake, went through gift opening and handed out the grab bags that quickly.
The party helper then spent the next 40 minutes coming up with new activities for the kids since, I mean, what else was there to do?
Yes, I understand I set myself up for the pressure and, yes, children can have simple, easy parties where I don’t invite a million people. But where’s the fun in that when I’m fully aware I’m a functional neurotic hot mess?
So what’s in it for me? Why do I choose to throw these fiascos year after year despite having to reapply deodorant in between chatting with party guests? (Seriously, I’m not kidding about the nervous sweating.) It might be the worst while it’s happening, but at the end of the day, I get to watch my happy little birthday kids go banana with their friends.
Plus there’s always the cake.
Kristine Rohwer is a marketing professional who resides in Omaha, Nebraska with her husband and three children. Founder of Elkhorn Family, you can follow her page on Facebook.