Thanks Jen, for offering to share your veteran mom wisdom with the rookies!
I always feel a little deflated after birthday parties. A lot of work, a few meltdowns from kids, messes, and don’t even get me started on the cost. You do all that work and then it’s just… over.
I think there is even more pressure on parents to create a perfect first birthday. This is hard because it usually ends up being a combo kid/baby/adult party where you need to please and entertain the full age range from baby to grandma.
In all that activity you may miss the very special thing that is occurring. Your baby is turning one.
As my daughter’s first birthday was approaching I found that I kept thinking I needed to plan something, send invites, create a little theme. It just never happened. One of the main problems I ran into was trying to figure out when to schedule the party. My daughter takes two naps which vary in length. Sometimes if she wakes up a little later, she drops her morning nap and sleeps longer in the afternoon. She is not fully predictable especially with the teething that is going on right now. Cranky baby at a party? No fun.
Another factor was the guest list. I have a large extended family and many close friends. Once you invite a few… it turns into about 40. ka-ching.
I think what really sealed the deal was the fact that our life had been so hectic lately. It just felt right to do something that celebrated her birthday and acknowledged that we had gotten through the first year but was very low stress for me and more importantly not stressful to her. No shifting of her schedule, no people she didn’t know well, no overwhelming stimuli. Just her immediate family, a few gifts and a cake after nap time.
I felt a little guilty leading up to the party. Shouldn’t I be celebrating more? Inviting family and friends? The internet tells me over and over I should have a magically fantastic party for my one year old.
Instead of the big party, we did this:
After putting her down for her morning nap (which did run late that day and would have utterly ruined any scheduled party) I convinced her sisters to help me clean the house. They helped me tidy up the dining and living room area. Then we wrapped her presents and got the gifts and the cake all arranged on the table for her.
When she woke up from her nap I changed her into a little dress and brought her out. When she saw the small pile of presents, her sisters and the cake she became so excited. She actually started shaking with excitement and laughing! I feel like if there had been a lot of people there this would not have happened, or I might have missed it.
We had the cake, opened her gifts, and went to the park. That was it. No clean up. No guests to send off. No overwhelmed baby. She spent the rest of the day playing with her new toy, had dinner and went to bed on time.
The cost was the price of the presents and wrapping paper. About $60 total. (A friend made her cake.)
It’s okay if you want to do a big party for your one year old. If you’re in the mood for that or thrive on planning parties, it can be wonderful and I am sure there are ways to make it work for your baby. But I just wanted to tell new moms that it’s okay to actually not invite anyone and do a very simple celebration at home with your baby.
For me it was actually one of the most memorable “parties” I’ve ever had for my children. I feel like I actually got to see my little baby turn one. Added bonus that I wasn’t exhausted afterwards and didn’t have a mess and cranky baby to contend with.
One tip though, some family members may get upset due to not being included. Take pictures and send them to your family explaining your choice and let them know they can come visit and wish the baby a happy birthday.
Read more from Jen at her blog OurUrbanPlayground.com