Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Kid's Parties- Is It Just Keeping Up With the Joneses?

Cross-posted and archived from DC Metro Moms.  Original post from February 27, 2008. 

My daughter turned two this weekend. Yes, I know, it is hard to believe. I can barely wrap my brain around it either. However, you know what the hardest part of her turning two was for me? It was- To have a party or not to have a party? It was the ultimate question on my mind. What would people think if we opted out of this birthday milestone? Would we be labeled as bad, unloving parents?

I drove myself mad with this conundrum. I wanted so badly for her birthday to go right I kind of freaked out. There were blog posts about it. I consulted friends and family. Everyone had an opinion and an idea of what I should be doing or forgetting all together. When it came right down to it I felt like my husband and I would be pretty bad parents if we went, what I call the "70s route".

The "70s Route" is a term I use whenever I refer to how things were done when I was a kid. Meaning, no big fuss, usually family-oriented and things were simple. I sometimes think my whole parenting style could be some bad retro comedy in itself except that I'm wearing 'flared' or 'boot-cut' jeans and not bell bottoms.

But I digress...

After talking it over with my husband and feeling that it would make no difference to our daughter we opted for a family day. Meaning just us. Not even grandparents. Why go nuts and spend gobs of money for a kid that did not fully absorb the concept of a birthday anyway? Instead, we made waffles for breakfast complete with extra syrup and let our cutie assist in the making of her cake. She ate raw cake batter too. Before breakfast. The shame. We took the tot to Toys R Us and had just as much fun as she did playing with balls, bikes and blocks. My spouse had to rip me from the Wii games section as I claimed to no avail that the trivia games and underwater discovery discs were for our kid and not me. We spent almost two hours wandering the aisles of this kiddie holy land until we decided to take her out for a birthday lunch. When posed with the question, "Red Robin or Thai?" She yelled out, "I eat Thai food!" So there you go.

It was a good day. Full of fun, presents (the kid got a cart of toys, clothes and more from friends and family) and good old fashioned from the box Duncan Hines cake with chocolate frosting. She wore a birthday crown and blew out her candles. She ran around the house on a sugar high yelling, "BIRTHDAY!" and I have to say I was a bit envious. That 'no care in the world' attitude is infectious but it is also hard to sustain as an adult.

It made me realize that all my fussing and analyzing over what would be the perfect way to spend her day was not only ridiculous but not about her and more about me. I cared more about how other people would view me as a parent if I didn't throw my child a party than I did about the actual day. That is not only insane but also not the '70s route' I so adore. After having all that fun in such an easy manner I've learned something. Next year? I'm not throwing a party then either. Unless of course she wants me to and if that is the case, then she can plan it.


Stephv said...

Right on for you for common sense. So much of kids stuff (comparing grades, sports teams,etc..) is for the ego feeding of the parents or the need to "look" a certain way. I say who cares?

Here in Silicon valley helicopter parenting has reached absurd

levels, preschools are chosen for their college cachet and God forbid little Katie eats a Cheetoh or anything that is not from Whole Foods.

Retro rocks.

Reply February 27, 2008 at 08:23 AM Gunfighter said...


I think that you did the right thing.

Reply February 27, 2008 at 09:36 AM Linda said...

yes, I have to say that we've done this twice now and this is the first oldest is turning four that he has even asked about a party, guests, cake, etc. We're still going the super easy route. Cake at the playground!!!

Reply February 27, 2008 at 10:20 AM Sue said...

That is MY KIND OF PARTY! Way to go. What is better than pancakes and raw cake batter for breakfast?

Another 70s mom here.

Reply February 27, 2008 at 11:20 AM Andrea said...

Good for you!! We like to keep it simple, too. No big parties. The birthday boy gets to pick what he wants for breakfast and dinner, though hubs likes to go all out on making the birthday cakes.

Reply February 27, 2008 at 01:43 PM natalie said...

Yay for the 70's route! I've got a 6-month-old, and I've found myself already thinking about how we'll celebrate his first birthday. Crazy, no? I love the family only silliness approach, and now have the perfect name for it. I keep hearing about the pressure to put together the perfect goodie bags for kids to take away from your parties - way too much stuff and way too much pressure for me! Thanks for this!

Reply February 28, 2008 at 06:49 AM Kristin DeLoach, Graco said...

I love it 70's style! That's the route my husband and I chose for our little lady. Simple, classic fun is the most memorable. Plus we wanted to keep it focused on the "guest of honor" and not everyone else.

By the way, to this day I still ask for that artifical strawberry flavored Duncan Hines cake with the bright pink strawberry icing -fortunately my mom stills obliges :)

Reply February 28, 2008 at 03:10 PM svmom3 said...

Two amazing first birthday ideas I've heard of:

a bubbles party. This one is all about the adults anyway, so pass the champagne (and have a few bottles of bubble soap for people who arrive with toddlers to play with) (I know several people who have gone this route; one who blames bubbles parties on why her kids are all spaced 1 year and 9 months apart)

a thank you ladies for your support party. Leave baby home with dad, and go out with all the women who supported you at the birth and beyond (midwife, doula, close friends, etc). go home and take photo of kid and cake later.

Reply February 28, 2008 at 03:14 PM Vicky said...

Awesome Kristen! I love the strawberry cake and frosting. That was my 6th birthday cake and I still think of it fondly!

Reply February 29, 2008 at 05:20 AM terri said...

my hubs grew up w/the full-fleged bday parties. my parents didnt have the means, just cake & candles. my hubs still smiles remembering. and i see the same in my friends' children, who would plan and anticipate months in advance. so for us, it's not keepin up with the jones, but creating these wonderous-filled moments for our children. cause to be perfectly honest, i'm alittle envious of my hubs' childhood.

Reply March 02, 2008 at 07:34 AM Violet said...

I'm so glad to hear someone else say this! My daughter turns two next week, and we're planning a day at the aquarium and a cake at home. My mother is SO disappointed with me, and thinks I'm terrible for not throwing a party, but we don't know that many kids her age, and I really don't see the point. She'll have more fun at the aquarium with us, and isn't she the one that matters?

Reply March 03, 2008 at 06:12 AM selfmademom said...

It's funny you wrote this because I have a post in queue that I will put up tonight about how I can't put on a low key birthday party no matter how hard I try. But I actually am having fun with it. I think that if it's not fun anymore then it's not worth it.

Reply March 05, 2008 at 07:05 PM children party clowns ny said...

such a very interesting post, i had fun reading it. i am sure your child's birthday party was a splash.

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