I used to go all out for my kids' birthdays. Like most parents, I wanted my kids to feel special, so I bought them expensive gifts, concocted elaborate shindigs, and kept working myself to the bone to make sure every celebration was a grand one. But you guys, birthday parties suck. And they don't just suck for the parents throwing them, but for the kids attending them, too. So, my partner and I did the unthinkable, and stopped throwing birthday parties for our kids.
Now, of course I love my kids and of course I want to celebrate their birthdays with them and in a way that makes them feel special. But I think children's birthday parties have totally gotten out of control. Each year our kids (and their friends) expect some huge gathering with tons of food, expensive goody bags, and a crowd of people. It all seems so excessive and unnecessary, not to mention exhausting and time-consuming. I wanted to find a way to celebrate my kids' birthdays without the ridiculous price tag, the arduous task of planning a party, or the slew of presents they absolutely do not need.
So, last year my partner and I decided to engage in a little experiment. Instead of planning birthday parties for our kids, we decided to do something small and as a family instead. We let our kids offer suggestions, created a list of reasonable options, and, in the end, they were able to choose which special thing we'd do for their big day — things like an escape room, arcade, water park, mani/pedis, and a pumpkin patch. Each kid enjoyed the hell out of their birthdays, and we did, too. Sans a party.
Turns out, birthday parties are totally unnecessary! Seriously, you really don't need to spend all that money and all that time and all that effort to create one elaborate party your kid probably won't even remember! So if you want to ditch the celebratory shenanigans for something a little more low-key, feel free to do so... and for the following reasons:
Because They Are Excessive
In my opinion, birthday parties have totally gotten out of hand. As parents we're pouring over Pinterest posts trying to create this elaborate party that will, undoubtably, fall short of our expectations or the expectations of others. And in the end, kids don't really care, either. They just want time to play and eat cake and ice cream. There's no reason to make some huge, excessive party when, in the end, your kid having fun is what really matters.
Because They Are Exhausting
Planning birthday parties for your kids is one of those things that sounds fun, in theory... but usually isn't. More often than not they are exhausting, and for everyone involved. Your kids will definitely have "party withdrawal" for days, during which they will be cranky and disappointed for no apparent reason. And, as a parent, you're going to be completely spent after setting up and taking down all the intricacies of a grand party that, let's face it, very few people noticed.
Because Kids Have Enough Stuff
I don't know about you, but my house is full of toys. My kids don't need any more stuff, and I don't want them to expect a ton of gifts every time they have a birthday. I know my kids will always get a few gifts from family and friends, and I won't turn those gifts away, but I'd really like to reduce the amount of things we have in our home.
Because They Are Expected
When a party actually does go well, your kids will be understandably pleased... but they will also expect the same or even a greater level of excitement a year later, when their birthday rolls around again. Everyone expects a huge party every year that's bigger and better than the last. That's a lot of pressure to live up to; pressure us parents just don't need.
Because They Don't Live Up To Expectations
Birthday parties never go as planned. People aren't going to show up, the cake isn't going to be as beautiful as the picture, the games are going to turn into a Game of Thrones type situation. Your kid, because they're kids, won't understand all the time and effort you put into their party and throw a fit or whine or just not be as thankful as you'd imagined they'd be, and you'll be left feeling defeated. Hard pass.
Because They're Not Fun
In my experience, kids' birthday parties are fun... for about five minutes. Then someone cries, gets hurt, breaks something, or a fight breaks out, and sometimes all of the above happens simultaneously and you have a certifiable sh*tstorm on your hands. You have to deal with kids' social politics, which truly give reality television a run for its money, and parenting politics, and it's all just, you know, not anyone's idea of a good time.
Because They're Expensive
I have five kids, you guys. Five. Birthday parties are expensive. If you try to save money and have it at your house, you have to clean. If you pick a park, you have the weather to contend with. And if you rent a place, you have to spend a ton of money to secure a location. I would much rather save that money for a trip some place fun, or on an experience my kids will actually enjoy.
Because They Reinforce Capitalism
As a parent, I'm so tired of being expected to demonstrate wealth all the damn time. I don't buy my kids expensive clothes, drive a fancy car, or throw elaborate parties for my kids. It's just not who I am.
I am equally disturbed that we are unintentionally teaching our kids that they need to buy and exchange goods to be friends with someone. It just seems so yucky.
Because They're Totally Unnecessary
I can honestly say that I won't be throwing a birthday party for my kids anytime soon... if ever again. My kids don't need a huge, expensive party or a pile of gifts to feel loved or special on their birthdays, and I don't think they'll miss those elaborate celebrations.
I know I won't.