Every time one of my children have a birthday, I wonder how other moms do birthdays. So, I'm officially asking you, how do you do birthdays? Any advice for a mother who has done exactly twelve birthdays (and only about six birthday parties)?
The more birthdays we have, the more simplistic my approach becomes. One year, when our firstborn turned four, we threw a Candyland birthday party, replete with a maze through the house and centers where games were played along the trail. Real Gil even dressed up to look like the evil Lord Licorice and giggle-screams erupted. Afterwards, I was exhausted. The mess, the leftovers, the presents, the thank-you cards...it all left me a bit dazed.
This year, I am learning that all you moms who told me to keep it simple - well, you were right. So, I am.
Sugs turned four years old today.
And we cut out the details that Sugs could care less about. Like ice cream. Sugs doesn't necessarily like ice cream so why torture ourselves with wrestling the slimy stuff and scrubbing it out of the grout tomorrow? And Sugs is our little introvert whom we will stumble upon playing by herself in the midst of big, loud get-togethers. So, we cut out the crowded, loud birthday party at our home. Like most preschoolers, Sugs does not like to lose games so we cut those out too. She doesn't care what we eat as long as she gets sprinkles on something, so I let go of my gourmet dinner dreams, and ordered sub sandwiches. She also doesn't care what day we "do" her birthday so we moved it to coincide with her cousin's birthday and my sister and I shared the planning. As you scroll through the pictures, you will see there was one other area where I just let go of the details - Sugs clothes. Yes, she dresses herself. I must say, it could've been much worse.
We met at our favorite park, and let the kids play.
Of course, I didn't let everything go. We still did our traditional birthday breakfast at home, and if I might say so myself, I thought it was perfect. Here's what we do:
- Daddy takes the special child to the grocery store beforehand where that child picks a box of cereal. There are no rules, they can pick anything. So far, no one has picked GrapeNuts. But for the rest of the year, I never get children begging for sugar cereal. On the actual birthday, the children bust open the box and inhale Lucky Charms.
- On the morning of the birthday, all of the family, including the grandparents, meet at our house at around 7 a.m. Then, we march into the child's bedroom with a platter of doughnuts, complete with candles on top, and we sing "Happy Birthday" to them. This morning, Sugs went from being completely terrified to completely delighted in about three groggy seconds. The best part: we throw back the covers on the bed and we EAT doughnuts in bed. All of us.
- This sounds a little cheesy, but we have a special birthday tablecloth that we only pull out on their birthdays, and a "You are Special" plate that they get to eat off. Unfortunately, Lucky Charms don't work in this plate so it's more for looks than anything else, but they always seem to notice the little detail.
- On our childrens' birthdays, we also interview them on camera. We ask questions like "What did you learn this last year? What are you going to learn this next year? Are you going to miss anything about being three? What do you think you want to be when you grow up? What vacation are you hoping we take this year?..."
P.S. As you knew I would, I must clarify that all the amazing pictures in this post are not my own (as opposed to the non-amazing last picture). You can hire James Glover and he'll come to your house or birthday party and make YOUR dirty, grumpy kids look clean and happy too. Oh, but wait! Your kids ARE clean and happy. :) Hope you are enjoying them today.