Hello mommas and welcome to Mommy Tell All Monday! An *almost* weekly series where we share ALL things MOTHERHOOD. Because let’s face it, motherhood is not easy….but it sure is rewarding! Our parenting and motherhood contributor, Sara, is here to talk about some serious business today, ladies… Party Pressure. Do you ever feel pressured into throwing a Pinterest-style party?! I know I feel weak in the knees for an adorably styled party…but sometimes the stress and the pressure can take out some of the fun. Let’s read what Sara has to say on the topic…
My husband and I both turned the big 3-0 this year! I’ll never forget the conversation that I had with him six weeks prior to his birthday. We were talking with my sister-in-law and when his approaching celebration was mentioned I asked him what he wanted to do. His response was something similar to “You don’t have anything planned yet? I thought you would throw me a surprise party.” Apparently with a 3 month-old baby and a house full of kids I was expected to plan the party of the year, a fabulous surprise party that included a DJ in our backyard along with everyone we know. I had already disappointed him and we were weeks away!
Now moving on to the children . . .
I have quite the list of birthdays. After my husband kicks us off in April my son Gavin’s birthday is in June, and we have a birthday each month from June until November. It’s pretty overwhelming to plan five birthday parties. If I was sticking to a Pinterest idea and planning crafts for each themed party, I would literally be working on “birthday party projects” for approximately 24 weeks in a row. After each celebration I would move on to projects for the next birthday and it would be this cycle of party prep that would lead me directly into the stress of the holidays.
Sounds exciting huh?
Some women get life from creating and planning parties and I’m just over here trying to keep my head above the water and survive my house. At night when everyone is asleep the last thing that I want to do is start crafting and working.
From 7pm on I actually have time to sit with my husband and watch one of our shows or some nights I enjoy a bath with a magazine. Kudos to the Momma’s who plan amazing parties. Seriously, I love that others love to throw beautiful parties for their kids but I recognize that I am not that mom and I own it. I can’t feel guilty because if I let that guilt get to me I would be constantly working on a party and I’ve made a commitment to looking at the larger picture of where my time is spent.
My kids will survive a birthday party where the food is not labeled. They won’t remember the fancy way that I set the dishes up; they’ll just want to eat. Sometimes I leave chips in the bag and don’t even pour them into a bowl, crazy right? And who started this party favors craze? I remember the bags that our parents used to stuff with candy and cheap toys and now I have to come up with something really creative that fits with the theme for kids to take when they leave. My solution is happiness; they can take home some happiness from the party they just enjoyed.
Here are some of the ways that I’ve lightened the load on myself for parties in our home:
• I have combined birthdays that were close, my 3 year-old son Gavin and 16 year- old daughter Pima shared a party in July. I know what you’re thinking, “How do you plan a theme for a 3 year-old and 16 year-old?” You don’t. No theme, just a party.
• Our little D just turned 2 and actually shared a celebration with a cousin the same age and even his Nana & Papa. A four-way birthday celebration and there WAS a theme! It was “Pirates” and the kids “treasure hunted” for rocks around the house. It was the most thrilling thing for preschoolers, especially following their papa around who was wearing an eye patch and talking most of the night in his pirate voice.
• We have limited the number of attendees. My husband and I know and LOVE a ton of people. Unfortunately we can’t always invite everyone to parties, but I don’t think feelings have been hurt and if they are I don’t care. I care that my kids have a great time, and I can’t stress over feeding more people than I can afford.
• I’ve never rented something for a party. If we have used bounce houses, they are ones friends own or we have borrowed from our church. Have you ever made a list of items that you needed for a party and then asked friends if they had those items before actually purchasing them? I bet you might find yourself saving some money! Table clothes, serving dishes, drink dispensers, silverware and decorations are all things that I have borrowed for parties before!
• I cut myself some slack when things don’t go the way I planned. I have pinned some crafts or displays before that I’ve wanted to use at parties. If I only got around to making one of the five things that I pinned- I give myself a pat on the back. One is better than none and your guests don’t walk around your party thinking of things that you could have made, they’re enjoying the free drinks and food!
• When my family members or friends offer to bring something to a birthday party I let them. Most often my mom and mother-in-law bring things to pitch in and although I want to do everything on my own I force myself to take their offers because you know what- this Momma doesn’t want to stay up until midnight baking cupcakes.
• If I do have some extra money for the party, I try to choose ONE thing to spend it on. Like I’ll purchase treats instead of baking them. Or I’ll purchase decorations but will make my own food. I might decide to buy invitations and stamps instead of sending out an evite. It all depends on the party and where I’m feeling like that money would be helpful to me at the time.
• Finally, since I have so many kids to cover (and this isn’t for everyone) we don’t do much for our one-year-olds. You can “boo” me if you want to but I just don’t have it in me to create a large celebration for my baby who won’t remember it. Often those parties are for parents and if I’m going to party, it’s going to be over cocktails with friends, not with cake and a bunch of infants. Again, no offense to the parents who have the large bash for the one-year-old, I had one for Brooklyn but now I’m on my fourth one year-old and he will be happy simply having a cupcake over dinner.
Oh my goodness I could go on forever. Our materialistic culture has created an expectation for larger-than-life birthday parties and let me tell you I have been to some and they are amazing! I wish my budget and time allowed me to throw large parties for all of my kids every year, but unfortunately I can’t afford that.
Even if I could afford it, I think it would add more stress the following year to try to outdo the previous birthday party. It could easily turn into a crazy cycle for me. So for now I stay out of that cycle, I ask for help and put more of my focus into the love that people feel when they walk into my door rather than the expensive food they are tasting or the goodies that they’ll leave with.
PS- A little confession. The picture at the top of this post that includes my husband, son and daughter is from the most expensive party that I’ve ever thrown. However, I had combined Gavin’s second birthday party (of course there wasn’t one for his first) along with his ADOPTION party. So we had a HUGE reason to celebrate.
Adoption is really a gift from God and we were happy to party for that reason!
So, let’ here it. Have you ever felt Party Pressure? Are you aHUGE party thrower, or do you like a small simple party like Sara?