“Mom.me” blogger Michelle Horton has broken the silence by finally saying what every parent has been thinking about their kid’s birthday parties but has never said out loud. For kids, their birthdays as well as their friends’ birthdays are super exciting events that they can’t get enough of- the cake, the goody bags, the candy, the other little kids running around everywhere, it’s like kid heaven. As a parent, you feel like you’re obligated to look forward to your kid’s birthday, it’s their special day right? The day they came into the world and changed yours. But after their 1st birthday has come and gone and the parties just keep getting more complicated with more and more kids on the guest list, it can start to feel a little more stressful than exciting. Sometimes birthday parties aren’t even fun for the kids, hurt feelings can come from no-shows or missing invites, but as Michelle points out- every year parents keep going to them and keep hosting them. Despite the fact that, like Christmas madness, parents are never going to stop throwing their kids birthday parties- they are all going to keep thinking the same things. Here are Michelle Horton’s 10 Hard Truths about kids' birthday parties:
1. No parent wants to go, and no parent wants you to come.
It’s not personal. You seem perfectly lovely at school pick-up, and given a more comfortable atmosphere (somewhere without a head-splitting noise volume, and a few less hollers for “MOMMY”) maybe we could have a real conversation. But birthday parties are awkward, across the board. After huddling together with parents we barely know, making chitchat, silently pleading that our kid isn’t the one who collapses into a sugar-induced heap of tears or punches someone in the throat, we all leave grateful that it’s over, host and guests alike. Especially for the socially awkward amongst us, birthday parties are something to endure.
2. Half the guest list will RSVP the night before
When it comes to kids’ birthday parties, RSVP basically means nothing. You’re just going to have to accept it. Then parents will profusely apologize, as if they were the only one. A handful won’t respond at all, as if we won’t prepare a goodie bag and account for pizza just in case you phone in a last-minute response. At least one will cancel the day of, happens every time.
3. Prepare for siblings to come, because they will.
Don’t act surprised when a car unloads with four kids under 5, even though you only invited the one. Don’t you dare mentally count the pizza slices and goodie bags in your head; you were waiting for this moment. You’ve got this.
4. The activities you have spent so much time planning actually suck.
Musical chairs sounds fun until the first losing kid erupts into tears, elbowing kids off their seats. Scavenger hunts seem easy, until one older sibling goes on a prize-finding bender and refuses to share his winnings. If you can make it through two hours without saying, THAT’S IT, EVERYONE IN A CIRCLE AND SIT ON YOUR HANDS, then congratulations. Success.
5. Pinterest is for parents, not kids.
No kid cares about the themed food, Pinterest-inspired tablescape or décor. All of those printable tags and DIY touches? Just admit it, that’s for the camera (or maybe for other moms), not the kids. Kids want three things: sugar, loose balloons and space to run mad. Call it a day, folks. Let’s not overthink things.
6. Piñatas are the worst idea ever, stop it now.
Every time a parent emerges with a bat and the promise of candy, breaths catch in the air. Looks are exchanged around the room, silently saying, “Brace for catastrophe.” If the kids are strong enough to do some serious damage to the furniture, or to another kid’s skull, retire the piñata. The other parents thank you.
7. Goodie bags never make it out of the car.
So don’t try so hard. Kids are surprisingly easy to please.
8. All parents wish there was booze, too.
Wine would make this whole thing a lot easier, and less awkward. Sigh.
9. No one knows what to do about the gifts.
Do we open the presents in front of everyone? Do we wait? Do we avoid making eye contact with the presents?
10. It’s never quite as bad as we anticipate.
Yes they are exhausting and awkward and, if parents are gonna be honest, way too expensive, but parents will still show up to the parties, gift in hand. They’ll still send out invitations, even if they “have to” invite the entire class. They’ll still go through the motions and get through the day, for the sake of the kids. And of course, for the birthday cake.