Bouncy house rentals, the leased furry friends, gift baggies, themes, the 500 saved photo ideas and all the Pinterest pins on your phone. Planning your child’s birthday party can be an overwhelming experience! The more you let the birthday party expectations and checklists grow, they will in fact do just that. Grow.
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Lowering Birthday Party Expectations
We need to take a step back here for a moment and look at the entire picture here. With all the planning and high expectations to execute the perfect birthday party for four to six hours, who are we trying to impress? Is it yourself? Your children? Your friends? Family? What is your end goal for these often well thought out and sometimes (let’s be honest) headache inducing parties? Is it to be that mom on everyone’s social media feed that has it all together? Is it to be the one that went all out for their kids? To be THAT Pinterest mom that everyone aspires to be?
Honestly, I have been guilty of that myself. Mom guilt is real, and so is mom pressure. I have wanted to give my children the best party ever, especially those milestone birthdays. Those do come with some serious expectations! I have wanted to be the envy of my other friends hearing that coveted phrase, “wow, you really went all out!” …but come on, that is not what life is all about. That is not what their birthday is all about.
Expectations vs Reality
We need to remember one important fact: these birthday parties are about the celebration of our children. The fact that they are here. They have made us into the parents we are today and have given us a life changing title and a renewed purpose in this world.
Our children do not care about their parent’s social media feed, or about what our friends think of us. On our children’s birthday, they want to feel loved, celebrated, cared for and happy. Yes, bouncy houses and pony rides are fun, but if it comes with parents who are overwhelmed with the planning or the finances of it all, I promise they will see it and they will not have a great time. They want their parents happy on their birthday too. They do not want to see their parents stressed out because of their special day.
Our children want to feel loved and special on their birthday. Sometimes as parents, we create our own heartbreaks by projecting the unattainable: that we should be perfect, everything should be perfect, and that we should deliver on such a big day in a big way. But perfection simply just does not exist.
Pinterest Mom Reality
So, mom, be kind to yourself. Lower those expectations. You do not have to reinvent the wheel and you do not have to be the unicorn Pinterest mom that seems to have it all together and pulls out all the stops. Because let us be honest here, none of us have it together, and certainly have not in these last twelve months. As perfect as your neighbor or friend on social media might seem, I promise there are days they are challenged too. This past year has given us all a life-jolting experience and we need to remember to have compassion, care, and kindness to ourselves as well as others.
Remember when you are planning these parties this year, bring it back to the center of it all which is your children. If they would rather spend the day at the waterpark, zoo, or in the backyard with a couple of friends and not their entire Zoom class in-person, it is OK. If they do not want a themed birthday with the matching backdrop and paper cups, it is OK. If you do not get the perfect bakery three-tiered cake and instead whip something up at home, it is OK.
At the root of it all, remember to love your children, and celebrate them. Just breathe, slow down and take the day in. They will never be this age again. Tomorrow they will be a little bit older, so enjoy every moment of today. Try not to worry about what the mom down the street is doing for her kids, that is not your circus. Give yourself grace and lower your birthday party expectations, it will save you headaches and heartaches. Remember, none of us are perfect, there is no such thing. You got this mama, and above everything you can give your children on their birthday, love is the best present of all.