You are stronger than you think.
You can survive things you did not expect (hello, contractions?!), never dreamed you’d have to face (a 48-hour-old baby with a hole in his heart), and would have avoided at all costs (projectile vomiting). Remember that when you are in the midst of sleep deprivation, epic tantrums, night terrors, and mega-birthday parties. You are keeping a baby/kid alive. Every day. You are amazing.
Birthday parties are on my mind these days. After five years, I consider myself something of an expert in brain-addling celebrations.
Here are things I wish I had figured out earlier:
- Don’t waste your time on cards for little kids. They can’t read, they don’t care and the cards always get separated from the gifts, which means you end up thanking the wrong person for the wrong present. Invest in simple, brightly-colored wrapping paper and write, “Happy Birthday so-and-so! Your Friend, so-and-so.” on the outside. Done.
- Cupcakes, not cake. Err on the side of chocolate.
- Have adult food for the parents who lost the coin toss and have to bring their kids to the party. They stand around for a damn long time watching children on a sugar high careen wildly around the room. They deserve sustenance too. If you can swing an open bar, even better.
- You do not have to invite everyone in the class. You just don’t. If you don’t have room or the money for a big party, or your kid doesn’t want to invite everyone in the first-grade, or you just can’t handle 27 kids screaming in your ear for two hours, that’s ok! You are allowed to mark the occasion of your child’s birth anyway you want to. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. My only rule is that if my son doesn’t invite everyone, he is forbidden from talking about his party at school.
- Legos are great. Really. I love them. So does my kid. But if everyone gives just one Lego set to the birthday boy, guess what Mommy and Daddy get to do for the rest of the weekend? Someone just gave my five-year-old a shirt and a pair of jeans for his birthday and I want to hug her.
- Balloons pop. Buy 10 more than you think you need. Oh, and clean out the car before you go to pick them up. And don’t take your kid with you.
Until my son turned three, he seemed to think there was some invisible forcefield surrounding his room.
When he woke up, he would not leave his room until my husband or I went to get him. Initially, this was fabulous. He would get up and sing, play with his toys, and generally amuse himself until we stumbled out of bed. One day, though, he grew weary of the forcefield and started yelling for us at 5:30 a.m. So I came up with the clever idea to explain to him that, instead of screaming, he could just come and get us.
That did stop the screaming, but that’s only because he didn’t need to scream when he was standing right next to our bed telling us it was time to get up. Then, I found the magic clock.
It has many wonderful qualities, but the best is that you can set it to turn green at a time you deem acceptable to start your day. We bought it, told our son that if he got up before his clock turned green, he was welcome to get up and play, read, or color in his room, but he could not leave his room (trips to the potty were exceptions). It was, without a doubt, the best $30 I ever spent.