This past month, we celebrated my younger two kids’ birthday parties. And I have to be honest, I kind of prefer the pandemic birthday parties. My oldest was lucky. He turned 11, literally 3 days before the first shutdown in March. So, he was able to have a couple friends over to go swimming and hangout. But, for my now 7 and 9 year olds, it was a different story. For my
daughter, the 2nd shutdown lifted on the day of her birthday. But, of course, no princess party for her with the unicorn sprinkler, which would have been the norm. Instead we had a bike by party. I know drive by’s are popular, but my daughter has a couple friends who live in condos and don’t get to really ride their bikes around (public parks were closed with the sun down as well). So, we invited 6 kids over to ride bikes on our wonderfully flat street.
I bought cupcakes from this great local bake shop called Girls Who Bake Next Door. They individually packaged the cupcakes and I set them out on a folding table, along with a very simple party bag with a huge bubble wand. And, it was enough.
We decorated the garage door with streamers, which took much longer than I had expected. And, then wind blew it all down, so I had to re-do it!
I don’t know if you feel like I do, but birthday parties have gotten out of control lately. I end up inviting entire families so siblings don’t feel left out, creating the perfect lunch, obsessing over decor and party bags, and it’s just all too much. Guess who had a great time riding bikes with her friends? My daughter! It was especially sweet since it had been 6 months since she had seen most of her friends. It was the perfect social distancing party. All the kids wore masks and we were outside in the fresh air and sunshine.
Now, for my son, who turned 9, we took a different approach. Beaches had reopened, so we invited 2 friends (and their families) to go to a local beach called Sherwoods in Waimanolo. It’s great for body surfing and the boys had an absolute blast. I filled up a cooler with clementines, spam musubis (trust me, if you come to Hawaii, you’ll soon understand the appeal), apples, and chips. And, again, another perfect, low maintenance birthday party.
I’m hoping this trend towards more simple, less exorbitant parties will continue even when life is back to normal. Every minute doesn’t need to be planned. It’s alright for kids to figure out how to entertain themselves, whether it’s biking or digging sand castles and moats. Unstructured down time is so necessary for children and I’ve lost sight of that.
I enjoy my slow paced weekends. No parties to attend. No charity events. No games. Limited practices. And, yes sometimes my kids spent 6 hours of a Saturday glued to the TV. But, you know what? I did that too growing up. And, I surprisingly didn’t end up needing glasses and I turned out just fine! OK, I know that’s anecdotal evidence. And, of course, I never advocate for unlimited screen time – it’s been linked to obesity and depression in kids. But, every once in a while, give yourself some grace and let kids relax just a bit.
So, here’s to going the low maintenance route. Enjoying some sun and surf, with minimal decor, favors and food!