Rule #19: We celebrate one another.

We celebrate one another. We celebrate one another’s accomplishments, big and small. And we definitely celebrate birthdays!

Growing up, birthdays were a big deal in my house. My mom and dad went out of their way to be sure my sister and I felt very special on our birthdays. We always had birthday parties with lots of friends, all the cake we could eat, and all the fun we could have. My mom also loved throwing surprise parties. I can still remember the surprise 40th birthday party she threw for my dad at the local Y more than 20 years ago. I had never been to a birthday party with so many people!

To this day, birthdays are important to me. Chris has always teased me that I don’t have just a birth “day”. Instead, I have a birth “month”. Once July 1 rolls around, I’m ready to celebrate! Does it really matter that my birthday isn’t until the end of the month?

Celebrate good times!

In the Willard House, birthdays call for celebrations. Chris would prefer birthday parties to be understated affairs, but he knows that’s not going to happen. Don’t get me wrong. For SW’s first birthday, we simply celebrated at a family reunion with our family. I didn’t go the Instagram mom or Pinterest mom route of over the top birthday decorations. I didn’t decorate her high chair and dress her up like the queen she is. Instead, we celebrated her first birthday with cake, a few balloons, and a long nap.

SW’s 1st birthday | July 2017

Birthday parties with benefits.

For my older girls, BW (7) and MW (5), birthdays have been larger celebrations. Chris and I have gone back and forth about the girls having birthday parties with friends or just celebrating with family. The first time we had to make this decision was for BW’s sixth birthday. In the end, we decided that a birthday party with friends was the way to go. And that’s what we will continue to do for her and MW for the time being. Here’s why:

1. Birthday parties allow the girls to be celebrated and receive good attention.

Let’s be honest: Children do not always receive praise and attention for the good choices they make. As a parent, I know I have to be intentional about praising my girls and to pointing out all the good they do instead of focusing on the negative. We have found that the praise BW and MW receive at birthday parties – and being the center of attention – helps build their confidence.

2. Birthday parties are a great way to socialize with friends and peers.

Most kids need time to develop their social skills. My three kids are no different. Birthday parties allow my girls to have fun while continuing to learn how to play with other kids, compromise, and communicate.

3. Birthday parties are a great opportunity to use manners.

All the pleases. All the thank yous. And these aren’t just for friends and family. Both Chris and I do our best to model to the girls appropriate behaviors and manners. One way we do this at birthday parties is thanking not just friends and family who are there, but also thanking the employees who are assisting with the girls’ birthday parties. I never want the girls to feel entitled. Instead, I hope my girls are kind to all persons and that they always use manners.

4. Birthday parties help my girls develop a sense of gratitude and thankfulness.

Before each birthday party, we remind BW and MW that their friends have taken time to choose a present just for them. We want the girls to be grateful for what they receive and to realize that it takes time and money to purchase birthday gifts. Even if my girls don’t love every present, they can still be gracious and thank their friends.

5. Birthday parties allow friendships to grow.

This one is pretty self-explanatory, right? I’m all about my girls developing friendships, even at a young age!

*BONUS* Birthday parties allow Chris and me to develop relationships with other parents.

In the beginning, I didn’t realize this would be an outcome of hosting birthday parties for our girls. But it has been such an important part of birthday parties! This is one of few chances Chris and I have to get to know parents outside of a school or work functions. At birthday parties, I always feel like the parents are on the same level. And most the time, I’m able to connect more personally with other moms. It has been such a great bonus!

How do I stay sane throwing multiple birthday parties a year?

Who knew that there were so many benefits to having a birthday party? As we thought through having a birthday party for BW the first year of being her mommy and daddy, we were primarily focused on her developing friendships and stronger social skills. And we definitely wanted her to feel celebrated and loved!

MW had her first birthday party with friends this year. We’re still a couple years away before we’ll cross that bridge with SW (3). But if the girls are growing in their social skills, developing stronger friendships, learning to be grateful, and receiving good attention from these birthday parties, then birthday parties are here to stay.

This mama stays sane by hosting birthday parties offsite, aka, NOT at our house. Finding places that will do EVERYTHING for the birthday party is key to my sanity! We’ve more than enjoyed having parties at Monkey Joe’s and Chuck E. Cheese’s. If you’re in the St. Louis area, you should also check out Myseum. We had a blast having one of BW’s birthdays at Myseum!

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