My 5 year old son, Xander, has never had a birthday party. I know, a little shocking to some perhaps, and not how we planned things to be honest but equally, not something to feel ashamed about either as parties are not for everyone, and up until now they’ve not been for him.
When he was old enough to speak, he vocally opted out of a party when it came to his birthday, but he’s now unsure if he wants one for his upcoming 6th birthday….
In this post I’m honest about my lack of enthusiasm over kids’ parties with the hope others can relate.
Let me caveat this by stating that my eldest son, Oliver, 8 has had a birthday party every single year since his first birthday. He plans the preceding party the day after his last one and lives for birthday celebrations (I wonder who he takes after!).
Xander is the complete opposite.
There are a few likely reasons behind this lack of enthusiasm over parties.
Yes his calmer personality plays a part but so have we as parents.
The initial excitement of a first baby and celebrating his every single milestone with some sort of party no doubt influenced Oliver (even subconsciously). First tooth, let’s have a BBQ! He walked, invite the entire family over for a three course dinner party. 1st birthday? A restaurant lunch for 15!
Inevitably the second baby has no choice but to fit into the madness of life with kids and while milestones were of course still important, there’s far less time, energy and dollar to go around when you have one than one child. Low-maintenance but still fun options tend to take priority.
He is also a mummy’s boy so as long as I’m involved, he’s happy.
He started nursery later than his brother and only attended it, two days a week before starting school at almost 5. He ALSO only stopped crying at drop-off 6 months before leaving for school, preferring time with me over nursery with his mini mates. He still feels the same to be honest, and asked me if I could home-school him, the other day. ‘You just teach me Mummy, so I don’t have to go to school’.
He does enjoy school though and has formed close bonds with friends there, settling in well but he enjoys independent play too and just doing his thing. He was always an ‘easy baby’, a kid who adapted well and was happy in his own company, a box of LEGO to hand.
That’s why parties weren’t his bag.
We asked him yearly if he wanted one, offering him suggestions for themes and activities (soft play, Disney themed, football etc) but he always favoured one on one play dates or small gatherings with the family to crowded parties, and we respected that.
We still made his birthdays special for him with presents, a cake, balloons and sometimes even trips to the countryside or the coast if the weather allowed and it’s important to add, he never felt like he was missing out by not having a party, because a) he’s a child and FOMO isn’t a thing for them (!) and b) he wasn’t a fan of parties in the first place, even asking to leave early when we attended other children’s parties.
Parties can be a bit ‘hit and miss’ to be fair.
Oliver has had some amazing ones over the years, with the one, Rainbow Factory kindly threw us springing to mind but we’ve also had some ‘mild fails’ too over the years.
Oliver’s bowling party last year could have run more smoothly that’s for sure.
The children became disinterested in bowling after just half a game (the aisles weren’t well lit making for a melancholy atmosphere) resulting in them ‘pretend playing’ on the arcade games and then complaining of hunger thanks to late food and a lack of staff. Myself and another mum friend ended up waitressing!
It was all a bit of a faff, so much so, it put off another parent who was planning a bowling party for her daughter not long after.
The kids did have fun overall, and that’s what matters, but it was pretty stressful too. The whole process of parties can be.
Writing the invites, taking on the role of host and providing entertainment for kids and parents alike, can feel full-on for many.
It’s certainly not something I actively look forward to.
Xander’s birthday falling towards the end of Sept has also meant my focus beforehand has been on getting the kids back-to-school with all the uniform and kit they need, so thus far, I’ve welcomed Xander’s low-key ideas on celebrating his birthday.
So where does that leave us for his 6th birthday, this year? Xander is actually interested in having a party for the first time ever although he keeps changing his mind and veers between wanting a family celebration-and a trip to Hamley’s (his favourite place on earth) please- to a party with all of his friends.
I’ll happily oblige either but I’ll need luck, time and a party venue, pronto, if he opts for the latter.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hoping for the family only party.
Can anyone else relate, or am I a terrible parent? (ha)