In my pre-mom brain, I always said that I wanted each of my future children to be born within their own respective month, as a result, they get a MONTH long celebration. I mean, who doesn’t want to feel special for a whole 3o or so days a year? In high school, my tribe would declare the month of May “Lauren Fest.” Giving us “permission” to eat any candy or food we wanted at any moment in honor of my birthday and vice versa. Wow! What I wouldn’t do for that metabolism!
Fast forward 13 years and I still follow some of those rules. Our first son’s birthday party included every friend, neighbor, and family member. It cost us about the same as a week at the beach and all I had to show for it was a crying baby and a gigantic mess. The second time around I got a little smarter. Our newest 1-year-old celebrated among just our immediate family. Simple, less mess and more change in my pocket. AND the third time…NAILED it… we celebrated with just the five of us!
So, if I had learned my lesson why did I decide to go backward with my vision and throw another blowout? Ohhh, that’s right, so I could be reminded once again that less is more. In March, I decided to throw the two oldest a combined birthday party at our home. Something I hadn’t done in six years! I went full throttle: two cakes, a giant jumpy with slide, and enough food to feed our whole neighborhood. The end result was a huge bill, leftovers, and two littles tearing through every gift as if they were hunting for a hidden treasure.
After hearing them profess to each other that next year they were going to have their party “not at home,” I was furious. Here, I had just spent all this time and money planning them a bash and for what? Somewhere along the way I did something wrong and was raising unappreciative littles. Naturally, I packed up every gift and placed them away in a spare closet. Then, I explained to them that each and every gift would be earned through good behavior.
Each day they had four opportunities (broken up by early morning, mid-day, afternoon, and bedtime routine) to show me how bad they wanted those gifts. After each time segment, they could place a cube in their respective jars. If they broke the mold with their behavior and also the opposite; if they didn’t, they would take a cube out. To open a gift of choice they had to earn up to 20 cubes each. It really was a win for all, but mostly for me. I didn’t have a gazillion new toys sitting around and they were working extra hard to earn them. As a result, they displayed better behavior. Biggest win of all; they were working towards something rather than just being handed something.
3 months later…we are still cube collecting and still saying no to the BIG birthday party bashes.