Children and Birthday Parties

So, last year I waited until the end of September to start thinking about DD1’s birthday. I learned kid’s birthday parties are sorta like weddings. You have to plan them far in advance.

By the time we started, it was far too late for most things, so we ended up hosting it at home.


This was extremely stressful, and frankly, the party was only so-so for my daughter and her friends.

October starts my busy season at work. It’s also Halloween, other family members’ birthdays, including immediate family. Yeah, it’s a pretty full month. Let’s just say her party last year was half-baked, but we got away with it because most of the guests were four.

We won’t get that luxury this year, especially as DD1 will be in kindergarten. So, I started planning early.

I’m not Pinterest mom, but we can do better than putting everything together the night before the party. Yeah. We were real organized last year.

So, so true.

So, here’s what I’ve come up with:


Dance Birthday

The dance place she dances at hosts children’s birthday parties. They provide an indoor venue (critical as we can have snow in October), and one of the instructors takes care of entertaining the monsters children. They also take care of the invitations, set-up and clean-up.

I’m leaning towards this because I’m really busy already. I bring the birthday child and cake. They do everything else


Water Park Birthday

There is a small indoor water park in our area. They offer birthday packages where the kids can play in the pool and on the water slides, then afterward they had a room for the monsters children to eat cake before I send them home.

However, this would mean getting into a swimsuit to help monitor them in the pool. I’d really rather not, but it’s an option.

Not this kind, but I’d like it better!


  • I’ve checked the YMCA, but all kids have to be 6 and older.
  • I asked her about bowling, and she said yuck. Didn’t like the bowling field trip at school and quit after less than one round.


As I’m offering the two choices above to my daughter, she proposes a third: an at-home Zelda party.

I squirm. I explain to her that our house is pretty small, she couldn’t have nearly as many friends over.

  • Read: I don’t want to clean and prep for the party. Or clean up afterwards. Or entertain monsters children for two hours.

She says she doesn’t care. She’ll just have fewer friends over. I try again, explaining that not many other children are going to know who Zelda is. She says she doesn’t care, they can come as other princesses.

Not sure why it’s called Zelda when all you ever see is Link.

So, I back off. Maybe we can convince her later if we phrase it right.

We try again at dinner the next day, and I explain that the dance place has themes and she gets to pick the one she wants. She seems pretty happy about doing the party at the dance place and picked the princess theme.

Then, comes an awful, rushed, hectic morning. We’re finally in the car, with everything we need (I’d forgotten something and had to turn around twice), and now DD1 has me again trapped in the car.

You know where this is going. Yeah, like that.

She tells me she really doesn’t want to do a dance party. She really wants a Zelda party at home. I explain again that we can’t have as many friends come if we do the party at home. I explain again that I don’t think her friends will know who Zelda is.

She is undeterred.

She wants a Zelda party.

I told her to think about it. I have a little time yet to make a decision.

She gave me the patented DD1 look and said she’d think about it, but she already told me what she wanted.


How about you? Ever have to throw a child’s birthday party? Any pointers or tips?

It'll Be Fun, They Said

Ah, the family vacation. We didn’t take these much as kids as our family simply couldn’t afford it. Family vacations in my childhood primarily consisted of me being sent off with grandparents so our parents could get some time away.


DH and I didn’t take too many vacations when our first child was small, partially because of the restrictions I was on as we tried to have a second.

Now that both children are older, we thought it would be fun to try a quick three-day vacation. We all were excited, and I had high-hopes.

I’d done my research, having both searched the internet and talked to lots of other people as to where a good place would be to go with a toddler and pre-schooler in the winter. I wanted to be close enough to home we could come back if we needed to, but far enough away that we’d test out the over-night thing.


After selecting where we were going, then came all of the planning. Making sure we had snacks in the car and in the room. Enough  drinks. Enough clothes to get us through. Toiletries. Entertainment for in the car.  I felt like I was planning a military assault. Perhaps that should have been a clue.

And yes, the vacation was as horrible as some of you are imagining

They had all kinds of up-charges for different things to add to your room, but none of them including giving you a “toddler proof” room. You forget what it means for your toddler to have access to every cord, every cable, and every outlet in a typical hotel room. There are no toddler gates barring off stairs, no toddler locks on doors.

There is no safe place in the room where she can play for ten minutes while you catch your breath. And if you try to make a play area anyway, there were will be tissues scattered across the carpet and you’ll find yourself sprinting across to room to stop her just as she attempts to figure out how to unplug the lamp.


Vacation also meant being subjected to kids out of their comfort zone. Out of their comfort zone and over-tired, cranky and irritable. Everyone’s favorite kind of child!

The biggest issue to my having fun of any sort was my expectations. I went into the long weekend wanting a vacation. Time to relax, unwind, and recharge. This was anything but that.

They were kids at a water park. They needed constant supervision. I knew that going into it, but what I didn’t understand was how much work this was with none of the fun.

See, my oldest child is big enough to do a lot of stuff at a water park. I figured DH and I would switch-off going on the slides and rides with the oldest, and then spending time in the toddler zone with the little one.

What I didn’t anticipate was that my oldest child would want to do nothing but play in the baby area with her sister. No water slides, no fun rides. We literally spent hours in water up to our ankles. Our knees when the oldest finally got a little braver.

Yeah, fabulous way to spend our time at the water park.

Our issues were compounded by DD1 being an early riser. She’s up at 6am and ready to go. The park doesn’t open until 9am. This means her having to wait and me having to listen to her ask “if it’s time to go yet” for three hours. By the time we got the water park, I was ready to leave.

Let’s also remember that I’m an introvert.  Being stuck in a huge crowd of people I don’t know, wearing only a swimsuit, is already not my idea of fun. I thought this was going to be tempered with the excitement of water slides. I was wrong.

But it did teach me some valuable lessons. One of them is that we’re just not ready for a family vacation yet. None of us.

I work full time and so does DH. If we’re going to do a vacation, it has to be a vacation for the whole family. Something we’re all going to enjoy.

I know DD1 had a blast. She will be talking about it for weeks.

I’m just glad to be home, book in hand, and iPad waiting.


How about you? Did you go on family vacations as a child? Did you like them? Do you go on family vacations now? How are they?  Where did/do you go on vacation? A favorite place come to mind? Something you really loved?