Making room for joy in the midst of motherhood: Why my kid isn’t getting a birthday party.

Meet Liam Daniel. People are floored when we tell them that we are not doing a first birthday party for him. They think we’re A-hole parents who don’t want to celebrate their kid. Wrong. We celebrate him every single day. We spend more time engaging with him than many parents do- The truth is that we’re just two people who fell in love with simplifying our life before our kid turned one (I was going to do a mad scientist or a harry potter themed birthday party for him before we changed up our lifestyle). We decided as a family (well just Patrick and me..L didn’t really get a say in the matter) to celebrate birthdays by allowing the birthday boy/girl to choose an activity or an adventure for the day. Considering an 11 month old can not tell us what he wants to do next month, we decided to forego the hundreds of dollars it would take to have a bunch of people come look at Liam do nothing (because he can’t eat cake anyway). Don’t get me wrong- I’ve been to lots of 1st birthday parties and I LOVE them. I find them adorable- but it just doesn’t make sense for us and how we are living our lives now.

I was stressed about how I “had” to throw a birthday party for Liam while we are still trying to pay off the hospital bill from having him! Then I realized I don’t HAVE to. And trust me, he’ll still get celebrated. He is the absolute light of our lives. He doesn’t need 58 presents and 30 people over to know it. He knows it in the little things we do daily. So we’re having immediate family over for pizza or something and we’ll sing happy birthday. And I can promise you his eyes will light up and he will have the time of his life just watching his cousins run around our house. No gifts needed, no theme, no bill.

As parents, we want to give our kids the world. That’s only natural. To me, there should be a balance. The birthday party is just an example, but you should know that you don’t have to do things just because most people do. Learn to say NO. It’s incredibly liberating. I have a few friends who love throwing parties and celebrating everything to the fullest. I admire and respect that. I love that about these friends. It is who they are and I will do my best to be at every single celebration they invite me to because it makes them happy. But that is not who I am. I am pouring the idea of simple living into every aspect of my life including parenthood. I want to share a few examples of how to make sure there is enough room for joy in parenthood. I am no expert and I don’t claim to know it all. So take from this whatever speaks to you, and ignore what doesn’t. Your kid- your choice.

Kids don’t need a million toys. They really don’t. a few toys is enough. seriously. And you don’t have to keep every single toy your kid gets as a gift. Return or donate if you have too much. It’s okay. Chances are the gift giver will never even think about it again after they give it. Liam has a few little toys like musical instruments, a safari toy, truck, balls, and then like 4 big toys… a rocking elephant, a basketball hoop, a wagon of blocks, and a push car. Even that seems like a lot to me. It’s plenty. Don’t suffocate yourself or your kids in toys. I think it’s good for kids to not get everything they desire anyway.

Say no to plans if you need a break. just. say. NO. You don’t have to go to everything you’re invited to. Your dad’s aunt’s second cousin may really want to see your kids, but plain and simple: YOUR family should come first. If you find that you have too many things to go to every weekend and you don’t think your family is getting enough family time, or mommy or daddy is getting stressed and grumpy because they just want a day to sit at home- it’s probably in your best interest to skip said event. It feels good. We generally reserve Sundays for Mommy, Daddy, Liam day. It’s the only day of the week we are all home together and we very rarely make plans for Sundays. It’s been one of my favorite little family rules and we both live for our sundays together. My husband frequently says “I can’t wait for Sunday”. It’s been instrumental in keeping our marriage happy through huge changes and postpartum depression. It’s our day. Disclaimer: there are always exceptions. I’m not going to miss a wedding or turn down a great chance to do something because it’s Sunday.

A couple Sundays ago we took a day date and had mimosas by the pitcher and lots of fried food 😍😍

Give your kids and yourself an early bedtime. 7 pm is Liam’s bedtime and 8 pm is mine. I find that I enjoy my mommy time a lot more in the early morning before he wakes up rather than the late evening when I’m beat from work, making dinner and having a human attached to my nipples all evening. So I knock out pretty quickly after he does. I pump from 4:30-5 each morning then the goal is to stay up and have 2 hours to myself or with my husband before the babe is up. I should note: we are super strict about sleep in this house. We sleep trained and got him on a schedule at an early age and we still sacrifice a lot to keep him on schedule.

Outgrown toys and clothes: If you plan to have more kids it makes sense to hold on to a lot..but if you’re done … Why keep it? Ask yourself why you can’t let go. Is it hard to come to terms with the fact that your kid is growing up? That you won’t be having any more babies? Deal with the underlying issue first and accept it- and let go. Give yourself grace and room and cry while you making give away piles and let yourself be sad. It’s normal. But don’t hold on too tightly to the past that you forget to enjoy the present. Donate those toys to kids who really need them and go make new memories with your babes!
Hack: if it’s hard for you to let go of little clothes- make then into a blanket! L wore this beanie in the NICU and his first few weeks home- it’ll be the one thing that will be hard to let go of. For now I’m saving it in case we have another boy.

What about homemade stuff? This is where my opinion becomes unpopular with many. I just don’t see the point in keeping every single drawing or craft .. Here’s a better option (and what we plan to do): each year put together a small, simple photo book and include pictures of all the things your kids made that year. That way you won’t wake up one day when you’re 55 with boxes upon boxes of arts and crafts that you’re trying to pawn off on your kids…like my parents. And guess what? None of us want our boxes. I have no desire to keep a craft I made my parents when I was 4. This is the way I see it- it served it’s purpose already. It wasnt meant to sit in a box for 25 years. It was meant to make my parents smile and feel joy for a while. And it did. and now it should be recycled because I don’t want that BS cluttering up MY garage. 🤷.

This photo book was a gift for my parents. It is larger, and more like an album. The ones we plan to make yearly for our memories will be much smaller and much simpler because they need to be easy to store and not take up much room or else it defeats the whole purpose.

Simple fact is that MORE STUFF DOESNT MEAN MORE HAPPINESS and THINGS can be discarded once they’ve served their purpose- even THINGS that people thing you are “supposed” to keep forever.

There is a common misconception that it’s not possible to have a tidy, clutter free home when you have little kids. Well we’re killing that mindset because our little guy is a few weeks away from being 1yr old and our house is tidier and more clutter free than it’s ever been. Parenthood doesn’t have to equal insanity! The space you live in represents who you are and directly affects your mental state. Don’t go nuts thinking it HAS to be chaotic.

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