Last month marked five years since I became a Mom. My oldest daughter had her fifth birthday.
It’s been five years of non-stop kissing of soft skin, developmental milestones, gummy smiles, little hands grabbing my hair. Five years of worry, coffee, crying and love.
And in five years, we became a party of five. My husband and I now have three gorgeous little beings that we call our own.
We took our three daughters out for dinner last week. They were uncharacteristically calm and agreeable for a 5-year old, 3-year old and 9-month old at the dinner hour. So it was a good night. It was a proud night.
People smiled at our table. The wait staff complimented us. We took it all in while we could. Because our lives are very rarely calm now. Our house is vastly different than it was just five years ago.
Things are noisy. There’s almost always a boo-boo or someone crying or squealing or singing. The number of times I’ve said “Please be quiet, the baby is sleeping” can’t even be counted. It’s like living with three little hurricanes. Our rooms are messy. Lived in. There are endless pieces of artwork proudly taped to the bedroom walls. Pencil crayons on the floor. Princess dresses in a heap in the closet. Footprints on the hardwood and handprints on the mirrors.
In five years, my life has changed dramatically. I’ve gained weight. Lost free time. And met three very different little girls who have changed everything for me. I’ve collected five years’ worth of pictures. Of little sleepers that no longer fit. Of toys and artwork and kids’ books.
Now my life, my thoughts, my time is consumed by these little beings that amaze me every day.
This anniversary was a big deal to me. So much has changed. I’ve been given so much.
And it’s only been five years.
About the Author:
Heather Dixon is a copywriter at Mabel’s Labels, a smoothie aficionado, a runner and a Mom to three highly advanced little girls (according to her husband and her).
Contextual learning is the new buzz word for education. Children learn concepts best when taught in context. So what better time than hosting a birthday party to teach some financial literacy skills to your children.
When my daughter described how she envisioned her 8th birthday party, she told me she wanted to invite all of her friends, have a big birthday cake with a princess on it, matching plates and streamers and to go to a movie. Rather than just flatly saying “no we can’t afford it”, and creating upset, I explained to her that we had to work within a birthday budget.
So I gave her an amount to work with and we priced out everything together. I had her see the numbers and choose for herself. Instead of me saying “you can only have 6 friends” – I said it doesn’t matter to me so long as you come in with a plan for a birthday party on a budget.
She compared the cost of bowling to movie tickets to games at home and how that price was impacted by the number of people invited.
She could buy the matching plates / cups / table clothes with the Disney characters, or get plain coloured ones from the dollar store to make the place look festive at half the price.
We compared a slab cake from the grocery store with a Disney princess to the cost of making one from a box and icing it ourselves. That would free up more money to invite more people bowling. Turns out – the grocery story bakery cake was very important to her and worth the sacrifice. Her party, her choices, her values – my budget. We were both happy. Had I made the decisions unilaterally, I would have been seen as the ‘meany’. Instead, I was a hero – she learned a lot and really took ownership of her party.
You might be surprised at just how creative and amazingly co-operative kids can be when they have a budget to work within!
About the Author:
Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts. She is the resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News Channel and CBC’s The World This Weekend. Alyson is an “Ask an Expert” Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine, and sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine. Alyson is the best selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth” and “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and her latest, “Ain’t Misbehavin”. She is an international speaker including the inaugural TEDxKids in Brussels and offers free parenting tips at www.alysonschafer.com
March is birthday month in my life. March brings birthdays for both me and Mabel’s Labels. I also have a daughter with a birthday this month.
I recently had a parent ask if I had any birthday party activity suggestions. Just thinking about the question exhausted me. In my 15 years of parenthood, I have had countless birthday parties. Actually, it’s not countless – just adding up my children’s ages tells me that by the end of March, I will have hosted 63 children’s birthday parties. It’s no wonder I suffer from a bit of birthday party fatigue.
We’ve done it all – bowling, indoor playgrounds, parks, magicians, reptile guys, musical chairs and the list goes on. Any way you slice it, at this point in my birthday party throwing career, the novelty has long worn off.
This can help you appreciate that six birthday parties a year is a big ask for someone who does not get inspired by Pinterest and has never baked a cake. Birthday party fatigue started kicking in seven years ago after my fifth child was born. Since then I have simplified things.
Here’s my survival strategy:
- If I have the party at my house, I do not stress about the state of the place. It’s only going to get trashed anyways. But what will the parents doing the drop off think? Yeah, not really caring.
- No birthday presents. Guests are instructed that no presents or gift cards are allowed. I make it very clear on the invitation and people respect my request. One mother always brings me a bottle of wine. That, I accept.
- No loot bags. In return for not bringing my kid stuff they don’t need, I refrain from giving our little guests junk too. The result: less going into the landfill and fewer sugar bugs on the teeth. I might chuck a little something at them by the door as a way to notify our friends that it’s time to hit the road and avoid tears.
- Birthday party timing is key. Book it for the 2:00pm – 4:00pm time slot, which gets you off the hook for having to provide a proper meal. Get some cake and juice in their gobs, and your work is done!
Go on – do the math. How many birthday parties have you hosted? Some mamas LOVE kids’ birthday parties and some are “meh”. Where do you fall on the birthday fatigue spectrum?
About the Author:
Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six.