It is a common though rarely discussed problem among moms: planning and executing a child’s birthday party can be the cause of almost total insanity. Moms feel so much pressure to provide their children with special experiences in life; in fact, they often feel terribly guilty if they are not constantly giving their children good memories. I can appreciate this feeling because I nearly went crazy trying to plan parties and other events for my children. It seemed like any lack of planning or unfullfilled expectation could cause irreparable damage to your child’s life. Moms tend to think fairly dramatically about these sorts of things. This is a good thing to some extent–our mothers are, indeed, in large part, responsible for many of our good memories because they love us so much. It is not, however, fair for mothers to spend all of their time and energy nervously caring about a party. Just because your mother might have worried herself sick trying to get everything perfect you doesn’t mean you should have to suffer the same fate.
Here are some tips for planning a reasonable party without going crazy:
1.) Ask your children for advice but do not allow them to do all of the party planning. Many mothers make this mistake and quickly find themselves pulling together a huge production that their children have planned. Come up with several viable options for your child to choose from then present said options to your child and allow them to pick one; this prevents their imaginations from running wild. Giving the kids too much power means setting a precedent for self-importance and entitlement.
2.) Allow the child to help you do some of the work for the party. You might even require them to do some of the work but it will actually help them to get excited about their party. Have your children prepare and send invitations to their friends with personalized messages. They will feel like they are building something special and knowing that it is their own party will motivate them to work hard. It also helps to instill an understanding and appreciation in your child for the amount of work that goes into the process. Make sure that your child or children also help with clean up after all the fun is over.
3.) Limit the total amount of time spent planning and throwing the party. Many moms spend an entire week making a birthday party a reality. The limit is up to you, but I recommend that you spend no more than one day on the party planning. The party itself should not go for more than three or four hours.
If you start to feel stressed or guilty about the party take a step back and think a little bit more reasonably. Chances are good that your child will have a great time at the party as long as their friends are present, regardless of how much time, effort or money you spent. Kids don’t need elaborate party materials or games to have fun. You don’t have to hire the circus in order to throw a memorable birthday party. Realize that your best is good enough for your child and that, in fact, anything more is simply unreasonable and ultimately unhealthy, for both you and your child. Relax and enjoy the party. Invite a friend to the party. There is no reason why you need to be stressed or on edge during the party. Allow the kids to have fun and socialize. The rest is just cake and a game or two.