Sometimes we parents make too much of a good thing. We love our kids a lot, and want to make everyday special. Those are just your normal days. And like everything else, when it comes to kid birthdays, parents outdo themselves in order to make their kid’s birthday the best they ever had. I mean the best day their kids ever had.
What I discovered as a parent, is because kids don’t have a lot of data to compare to, every birthday is the best they ever had.
All this leads me to shout the battle cry, Parents, keep it simple!
The best birthday party I ever went to was in kindergarten. We had lunch, played, and ate orange cream push pops. Thirty-two years later, I still remember that birthday party being the best I ever attended.
And it was because of the push pops.
No parents snapped pictures. In fact, I think the Amish babysitter handled the whole affair and not a parent was in sight. There were no games, no clowns, no party favors. We didn’t bring presents to give.
We ate, we played, and we had push pops.
I don’t see many parties like that since I became a parent. Every party has to top the last one. Parents rent out spaces, hire entertainment, and give gifts to the people attending. And while parents mean well, I also think they give their kids too much of a good thing.
My views are against culture. And I don’t judge parents for choosing otherwise, but I don’t think there is a voice out there saying, simplify. A reminder that kids will have an incredible birthday regardless of what a parent does, or doesn’t do.
Because it’s their birthday, they will be happy no matter what. Well, that is unless you raise their expectations so high the only way you can go, is back down.
My youngest turned 4 today. For her birthday we woke up with pancakes, met friends at a local kiddie park, and will have cake after dinner. She’s at an age where I think parties are more overwhelming than fun, and I understand enough about child development to realize she won’t remember a single thing from this birthday.
I am not having a party she will remember in the future, but I am having a party she will enjoy right now. Because that is what really matters. Her enjoying this day. Right now.
We don’t have huge parties in our house. The kids occasionally ask for a party like their peers, but when it comes down to it, the month before their birthdays they ask for a few friends over. The eat their favorite food, have a cake, play and watch a movie for the girls or play video games for the boys. And every kid who has left said it was the best party they had been to.
There was no horse and pony show, there were no clowns. Yet they still had an incredible time.
Parents, keep it simple.
I’m reading a book that talks about how to simplify our children’s lives. The author says we rush kids into adulthood, like a runaway stress train. Everything is over-the-top. Soccer becomes travel leagues, video games become hand held devices they carry everywhere, TV becomes the soundtrack to their days. There are never moments for quiet. Days to soak in and be thankful for the present moment.
Parents, keep it simple.
I go through my days looking for ways to simplify and create space around my family. Which means we say no to a lot of good things. Like lessons, playdates, and busy unnecessary filler to life.
I don’t want to stuff everyday so full of plenty, that the kids can’t breathe in the moment. I want them to take each day that comes and be thankful, present and joyful.
Parents, if we keep it simple, we will have joyful, calmer, satisfied kids. All it takes is saying no to the crazy beating down your door.
Will you join me?
To read more about simplifying your parenting, check out the book: Simplicity Parenting: Using the extraordinary power of less to raise calmer, happier and more secure kids. By Kim John Payne