October is a big birthday month around here. We have TWO October birthdays in this house alone, plus tons of friends and family who also were born in the best month of the year.
When our kids were little, like really little, we had the traditional birthday parties for them each year. All of our family and close friends would come and celebrate. We’d eat cake and open unending amounts of presents. Then everyone would go home and that was it. It was nice to see everyone together, but to me, it always felt like something was missing. The party was for the birthday kid, but it all felt so impersonal. It felt like a show and almost like a chore.
It was time to start planning Emery’s birthday a few years ago and I stopped myself. I asked, out loud I think, “why are we doing this?” The only answer I could come up with was “because you’re supposed to.” Well, if there’s anything I’ve learned in my 8+ years as mom, it’s every kid is different, every family is different and there shouldn’t be rules on how you’re “supposed” to do this parenting thing.
In that moment, I threw out my guest list, I deleted the party Pinterest Board and I went to the birthday kid and said “what do you want to do for your birthday?” She rattled off a list of pony riding and unicorn pinatas, but nothing about a party. And, thus, was born our tradition of the “No Party Birthday.” From then on, we’ve had a family fun day for birthdays. From wake up to bedtime, the birthday person gets to pick what we do, where we go, what we eat. It’s their day, we should be doing what they want to do. We should be celebrating them by doing the things they love and dream of.
For our family, life is about experiences and birthdays should be no different. So, we choose not to “party.” We choose to adventure and try new things; to make those birthday wishes come true NOW.
To answer your questions and rebuttals, no, I don’t think my kids are missing out. They still get time with their grandparents in a more personal, one-on-one celebration setting throughout the weeks surrounding their birthdays. As they’re getting older and making lasting friendships now, we will begin inviting one or two special friends to adventure with us. They still get to go to school in their “birthday princess” sash and celebrate with ALL their friends there. The memories we’re making will last much longer than the 2 hours a party would.
So, go celebrate those birthdays in the best, most amazing way you want. If that’s with a party, by all means, have a party, but don’t do it simply because you’re “supposed to.” It’s YOUR birthday.