Kids parties, its enough to send chills down the spine of the most veteran, accomplished parent! The pressure for the perfect party can leave you rattled, disheveled and dreading a day that should by all accounts be fun and full of love. What can I offer that’s bigger and better than the last party, am I up with the trends, cool enough, quirky enough, what can set my kids party a part from the other kids? Gone are the days of party pies, fairy bread and sausage rolls, now and firmly in place are the hip, funky and ultimately pressure cooker designer parties!
Last year for my daughter’s, my Little Ray of Sunshine’s, first birthday I embarked on an exceedingly ambitious mission of preparing and making all the party food, for twenty plus guests, entirely from scratch. In the months leading up to her birthday, the Big Man and I had made a pivotal decision to cut refined sugar from our diets in an attempt to help our little fella, our Hurricane, our then three year, turn a corner with his out of control tantrums. This massive undertaking, and by massive I mean monumental our withdrawals were not to distant the resemblance of a crack addict craving their next hit! Yet, we persevered and by all accounts it made a significant shift not only for our little man but for us too energy and vitality wise! Riding on the high of our winning parenting moment when our littlest ones birthday rolled around I wanted to share and lets be honest show off our new found incite!
Preparing a sugar free menu, homemade pizzas even down to the original super veg concentrate tomato paste, fresh baked homemade sausage rolls, whole meal pikelets with cinnamon butter, cacao chocolate oaty biscuits, assorted blitzed dips with dippers and coconut lightly fried chicken nuggets. The cake admittedly was still full to the brim with sugar, its their birthday and the woman’s weekly baking book has an unhealthy grip on me! So I set to work, biscuits and cake base baked, sausage rolls minced, rolled and prepared as well as the veg concentrate and assorted dips roasted and blitzed the day before all I had left to do on the day I cleverly thought was to decorate the cake, make the pikelets and pizza bases and ultimately whack the remainder in the oven, too easy!
Waking at the crack of dawn I masterfully and with an air of perfectionism inched my way around the edges of the now beautifully iced butterfly shaped cake! Placing it delicately on our bed in our bedroom out of reach of grabbing, sneaky hands, kids now up I began juggling breakfast along with pizza bases and pikelets, two eagerly excited little ones, pumped and ready for the festivities! With little under an hour until guests were due to arrive I made a quick escape to the shower feeling content and confident that things were managed, handled and good to go! Fresh and refreshed I breezed past our bedroom, breaking suddenly I froze not quite comprehending what was unfolding before and certain the crew from candid camera was about to surprise me but there gloriously munching away on my cake masterpiece was our beloved pooch, our staffy, our Lani…I kid you not the f**king dog was eating the birthday cake!
Screaming like a possessed banshee, dog hurriedly and wisely removed from my sight by the Big Man, children no doubt cowering in the garden praying that my crazy wasn’t caused by them, I scooped up the remnants of my cake and raced! Salvaging the non nibbled on pieces and using the remaining off cuts from my baking I threw together a somewhat resemblance of a now halved butterfly cake! With party guests now arriving I was flustered and on the back foot! With a single small oven and stove I could only churn out one plate at a time, serving after serving, periodically poking my head out of the kitchen to briefly acknowledge and socialize before scurrying back to the next item. Finally my grand finale, the cake, off key happy birthday, candles blown out, family snap taken and it was done, and I had missed it, I had missed the special day, the time with my family, the laughs with my friends and for what? To be stressed, warn out and by all accounts over it! My children wont remember the healthy snacks, they wont notice the lovingly homemade efforts and they certainly wont thank me for bending over backwards to make this day bigger than it needed to be. What will remain and imprint upon them though is my stress, my angst and my absence from the moments and from their special day.
So this time around I made a different plan, I chose the easy road! Throwing away my ideals, my ambitions, my thoughts on how I may appear to the outside, to the mounting pressure and expectations and I stocked my fridge, freezer and pantry to the brim with pre packaged, pre prepared and packeted party food! Give me bags of chips, fairy bread, frozen pizzas and store bought party pies and sausage rolls! It’s one day, its their day and I don’t want to miss a second of it! I want to be a part of the fun, I want to see them in the moment, full, happy and bubbling over with joy for their birthday bash! I can aim and fail for super mum any other day, but not today, today I am choosing the moments, the connections and simplest, easiest options! Admittedly I did still bake and decorate the cake, for reasons other than looking like a cool AF mum as trust me my baking NEVER looks like the picture, my drive their stems from my childhood moments with my own mum that I now am creating with my little ones, but that’s a different story and hey I cant win them all, if I need that moment with my children then that’s ok! By removing my unrealistic expectations, stripping myself of unfounded judgements and criticisms and wholeheartedly admitting that I am not equipped to handle the pressure, I allowed myself to just be! To be with our family, our friends and our loved ones, to see my children’s interactions, relationships and blossoming friendships. To be and to feel in the moment, the happiness and the love.
These special days are bigger in our heads than they are in our little ones, for the most part they just want the anticipation, the connection with their friends, the excited high from the buzz, the noise and the chatter, they want the laughs, they want to be the center of the universe for just an instance and most importantly they want you, they want you to be there, taking it all in and being present and grounded in the beauty of their moment, of their big birthday!