I love being a mom. I love taking my kids places , watching them in all their various activities, playing with them, studying with them ( I really love studying with them!!) and all the other that comes a long with it. But one aspect of raising children that I most decidedly do not love is planning kids birthday parties. All those kids up in my house, the chaos, the expense, loitering parents that I have to make conversation with – well, I’d just rather take a pass.
Now some people love planning parties and entertaining – and that is great because, hey it gives my family and me somewhere fun to go! And I like going to your parties, I really do. I am jealous of how great the look, but I don’t like the pressure I feel to emulate your efforts. Often these days it seems with most kid’s parties more thought is given to presentation than to party. I just don’t have the inclination, nor the small motor skills, to coordinate my cutesy printed water bottle labels with my cake pops and come up with party-themed names for goldfish crackers and string cheese. And, if we are being really honest here, who is that for the mom or the kids. Other kids may be different, but my two boys could care less about that stuff. Growing up our parties weren’t like this, so I wonder what is about being a mom today that makes us feel like we have to go to the extremes under the guise of celebrating the birth of our child?
At any rate, my youngest turned four this month, and of course we had to celebrate. His actual birthday is on a Sunday this year and our Sundays are currently packed with Church, Flag Football, Soccer and Fall Baseball – really doesn’t leave much time for a celebration. One night when we were out to dinner with my mom, she suggested, “Why don’t you just take him and his two best friends to Chuck E. Cheese?” I looked at her with horror. Had she forgotten who she was speaking to? I swore off Chuck E. Cheese five years ago when my oldest child was three after attending a Friday night birthday party where I truly didn’t think all of the members of our party would make it out alive. Me, her child, who has needed some form of anxiety medication since I was a teenager – take a group of children to Chuck E. Cheese? Certainly I lacked the fortitude to enter the depths of hell on earth and survive. But as she continued to talk and laid out a plan, slowly begin to come around, changed my mind and we survived. You can too – here’s how!
Pick a weekday – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Plan for your party to start by 4 p.m. This may be difficult for working parents, but consider taking a half-day vacation day. It is worth it, I promise. Keep the guest list small. We just invited G’s two best friends and we drove them there. (Not that I would have minded talking to these two kid’s parents, but my thought was why make them suffer if they don’t have to.) That’s it – three simple steps to maintaining your sanity.
When we arrived at Chuck E. Cheese, we were the only people there. The kids seriously had the place to themselves. No waiting in lines for games, no not being able to see them. We played games for 45 minutes and then were escorted to our front and center table by our personal party host. While we ate pizza (FYI, Chuck E. Cheese pizza is surprisingly good) we watched something on the movie screen and then Chuck E. Cheese himself came out and did a private show for the kids, singing Happy Birthday to G, posing for pictures and other things. After that it was time for cake and the birthday boy got a turn in the much hyped ticket booth. After that back to more games and then up to the prize counter to trade in our tickets for the latest pieces of junk that will clog up my house. When we were leaving around 6:00 a few other peeps had started to trickle in, but in total there were probably about 20 other people when we left. Easiest, stress free birthday party ever and it only cost $65. And the kids had a blast! I was in shock, but of course, Nana was right again!
I gave up all control of this birthday and let the rising four year old pick everything. Thus we ended up with a soccer ball pinata, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles plates and napkins, and a Golf-themed cake.
What are your tips for a stress-free kid’s birthday? I’ll need more ideas for next year.