“Is this worth it” a question my brother in law asked me on the night before baby bear’s 1st birthday. We are stood in my kitchen as I’m frantically running around doing final preparations for the weekend’s celebrations.
Birthday planning for us this year (and every year) involves making and icing cake, plenty of cake, hanging decorations, blowing up balloons, filling party bags to fill, checking you’ve packed up the colouring sheets and party crafts, wrapping the presents and making sure you’ve charged the camera, to name just a few things. Even the husband is giving me a funny look as I’m sat there painting wooden letters of the birthday boys name, not really understanding why I’m doing this. All became clear in the morning when each letter had a matching coloured balloon attached. To me it’s the little details that have the biggest impact
It doesn’t feel like a lot to do or that I’m panicking and not in control of the situation but to a London lawyer with no children, I imagine it looked like utter chaos. To me this is life. If it’s not a birthday party to organise, there’s a dancing show or a magazine to put together or world book day costumes to make (yes I’m a homemade person not a shop bought kind of girl)
This year I wasn’t sure whether to arrange a party for baby bear or not. Would he know what was going on? But I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t do for him what I did for the other bear cubs, and between them we have had some magical parties:
Bear Cub 1:
Age 1 – Fairies
Age 2 – Teddy Bears Picnic
Age 3 – Disney
Age 4 – Ballerina Tea Party
Age 5 – Mermaids and Pirates
Age 6 – Palace Pets
Age 7 – Disco Disco Disco
Age 8 – Build A Bear (you’re never too old for a stuffed toy)
Bear Cub 2:
Age 1 – Diggers
Age 2 – Farmyard
Age 3 – Pirates
Age 4 – Farmyard
Age 5 – Football
Age 6 – Although it’s not his birthday yet, he already has told me that he want to have a Little Soldiers Bootcamp party following the one we went to on the weekend!
Age 1 – The Hungry Caterpillar
My friends are always telling me that I should start a party planning business. This is something I often think about, but I’m not sure you can put a price on the hours you spend lovingly making papier-mâché fish or sewing individual sequins onto a homemade tutu. Although as my garage is like Aladdin’s cave with all the props and equipment from previous parties, I suppose a lot of it is already done?
I’m not a shy person either which I feel helps a lot when you organise a party. For Bear Cub 1’s 1st birthday we hired someone to come and do a singing session. She was amazing and my little lady was used to her as we attended her weekly classes (In fact we still do with baby bear). However when it came to Bear Cub 2’s 1st birthday I was a little bit more confident that I could sit there and run through a few nursery rhymes myself, with the help of a few props and my mum sat next to me. At the pirate parties I adapted the age old Simon Says game to the pirate theme. I had the kids scrubbing the deck, climbing the riggings, and running around shouting “Aye Aye Captain”. I know that this isn’t something that every mum would be comfortable doing, but for me and from the upbringing I have had, it is the normal way our family do things.
I don’t have the best memory and there is a lot of my childhood that I can’t remember but what I do remember is there was always fun, and I can certainly remember the many, many birthday parties that I had. When I was 7 I had a Circus party. We made invitations from paper plates, mum made a clown cake with a lolly pop as the nose and my dad and uncle put on a magic show for us. It was in the local church hall and everyone dressed up. Just thinking about it now makes me smile and I hope that my children can look back on their parties and feel the same sense of joy.
We all know that every child is different and to that fact every parent is different. What works for one family isn’t the same for another family. So for every church hall party there might be a soft play party or a big play centre party or a piece of cake at the house – only you know what is right for your child and your situation.
Returning to the brother in law and his opinion on the pre-birthday preparations, as they leave the house that night he says to me “I’m going to make sure that everyone knows how much effort you put in.” But I don’t do this for the praise or recognition from anyone, me knowing that I have put all my heart into something I know the children will enjoy is enough – because that’s what mums do!