Rosie to the Rescue: Birthday Party Dilemmas

It’s recently come to my attention that there’s a striking issue with having 4 children that I wasn’t warned about, and that is the astonishing amount of birthday parties they get invited to! For just my sweet first born, we’re talking over 20 parties a year between his classmates and friends, which means over 20 festivities with pizza and cake and ice cream and candy, 20 gift bags full of tiny knick-knacks and more teeth-rotting candy, and the purchasing of 20 $10-$15 gifts. Now multiply that by 4 and you can see why I’m going completely mad just thinking about it!

So what is the solution? As I added up the number of days my little one’s pearly whites are covered with gummy candy or slathered in lollipops I started to see red (and lots of cavities!). I made proclamations of serving carrots at my next shindig and of calling party hosts ahead of time to ask for broccoli to replace the candy in my kid’s gift bags. To save money on birthday presents for the guests of honor, I began hand-making gifts and even considered knitting a few scarves. The hysteria went on until I slapped myself back into reality as I saw my son quickly becoming the least favorite person to invite to a party because of his loony mama!

I started to think of some practical ways to address the dark side of kid’s birthday parties and helping my kids have fun and with their friends, without totally destroying their teeth and my bank account in the meantime! I realized that I can’t not bring presents, I can’t dictate what others put in their gift bags and I certainly can’t deny my child the right to eat the cake (or lick the icing if you are my kids). But what I can do is implement boundaries as they relate to my kids and the quantities of these things consumed. Best of all I can teach them life’s important lesson of moderation, because there is access to excess everywhere, not just on the kid’s party circuit.

For the wee ones you may have to make sure they are full before arriving at the party so they don’t feel so inclined to feast on cake. I also like to do a little bit of pre-editing of gift bags before passing them to my little partygoers. However, when talking about kindergarten-age kids and above, explain your conundrum to your kids and guide them to the solution you want them to reach. My 5-year-old is quite capable of understanding that too much sugar will hurt his teeth, so together we came up with how to edit the gift bags without me having to do it sneakily in the car. (He can choose one of the candies and the rest is removed.) With gifts he is empowered with a strict budget, which encourages him to be creative and thoughtful about what he chooses to gift his friends.

With all this thoughtfulness and moderation should also come one day without any: their own birthday! Let their party be the one special day of the year when they don’t have these boundaries, because sometimes it’s fun to break the rules!

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