Tuesday, 20 March 2012

It's my party and I'll cry if I want to!

Children's birthday parties; fun and exciting or just hard work and expensive?

Boy numero uno is going to be four this year and as he grows so to does my concern for how to celebrate his next birthday.

Since starting pre-school the toddler has been invited to and we've attended numerous birthday parties and the invitations keep coming in. The boy always has fun at these parties and we're so grateful to be invited but I do sometimes wonder why as mum's we put ourselves under so much pressure to entertain other people when its our little persons special day?

Since our eldest was born we've been invited to parties of all sizes for children as young as one. Most of these parties are held in church/community halls, leisure centres or at home. Some have been lovely and simple and fun whilst others have been rather hectic and exhausting (Obviously the scale of loveliness is down to my own personal preference and I appreciate everyone likes different things).

My perfect kids party consists of the classics: cheesy kids disco music, balloons, sandwiches, jelly and ice cream, pass the parcel and a party bag!
Give a child a balloon on a ribbon and shove on the bob the builder theme tune and usually they're running round chasing each other having the time of their lives.

We live in a lovely family friendly town and everywhere you are look there are young families which is perfect for us. This does however seem to increase the pressure we put upon ourselves to provide a party of Elton John post-Oscar proportions for a grumpy toddler who would probably be having more fun playing on the garden with a few friends.

The cost of holding these big kids parties is as much a reason as our personal preference for why we have so far only had small gatherings for the toddler.  

This summer we are having a naming ceremony for our littlest one and we have invited family and friends that are coming to join us afterwards for a picnic on the park. I can't help but feel like its a bit of a cop out on my part though! This ceremony isn't until later on in the summer and I'm already stressing about what people will think about the fact that we aren't putting on a party. It seems crazy but it comes back to the pressure we put on ourselves to 'keep up with the Jones's' in a sense.

It really should all come down to the child who's birthday it is. What they enjoy doing and their character. Our toddler is a sensitive boy who will join in but it takes him a while to come out of his shell in situations that are out of his comfort zone. I've seen so many children look completely overwhelmed by the drama and excitement going on at their own party and more often than not this leads to tears and them not wanting to join in. 

Holding a 'joint party' is something I've been involved with every year since boy number one arrived. I met some lovely ladies at the local antenatal class I attended when pregnant first time round. We've done the joint birthday party thing but it proved very difficult to find a date that everyone could make (ten families!). We have continued to have a joint Christmas party every year which is always completely hectic but lots of fun. Sharing the responsibility of putting on a party takes the stress away brilliantly. I have to say though since the majority of us have had second children we have opted for the soft play organised party option - the food and entertainment is provided and we don't have to tidy up! 

At four years old I know our biggest little man will be more than happy with his birthday celebrations as long as it involves the following: close family and friends, a birthday cake with candles, being sung happy birthday too (most likely twice if not more), lots of sugary treats and the obvious one - brightly wrapped presents!  

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