After nearly 15 years of parenting, I'm done. I am not hosting any more children's birthday parties as long as there are children living under my roof.
I have three children with birthdays coming up – a 15th, a 9th, and a 7th – and they're all within a fortnight of each other. (I like to call that precision breeding but in actual fact it was entirely accidental and has turned into a giant pain in the rump.)
The thing is, if one kid has a party, then they all have to have a party – and it means by the end of that two-week period I have blisters on my fingers from stringing up endless amounts of coloured popcorn, I've failed in at least one of my attempts to replicate the Women's Weekly Birthday Cake book (necessitating a mercy dash to the Cheesecake Shop and a promise to do better next year), and I somehow have a house full of glitter, despite conscientiously avoiding purchasing anything remotely glitter-related since 2006.
Oh, and I'm utterly exhausted.
The last few years have nearly put an end to me. My ex-husband and I thought we'd go old-school and host "low maintenance" laid-back parties in back yards and parks. You know the ones: sack races, healthy snacks, a home-made cake.
People love to Instagram these types of parties to show how they don't need to have the big, fancy parties with all the bells and whistles to have a good time. They're teaching their kids to be grateful for the little things and remembering the joys of being free-range kids who sit in trees and eat mulberries.
But you know the problem with those laid-back parties? They're not laid back for everyone. Someone has to organise all those rustic accoutrements – and that someone is generally the parent.
I remember years ago attending the party of a child who attended kindy with my daughter. The parents had organised a petting zoo, a magician, and two jumping castles (a pink one for the girls and a blue one for the boys). At the time I thought, why are these people trying so hard?
But now I realise they were actually geniuses. They weren't trying – they were outsourcing. They stood back and sipped on sauvignon blanc while the kids ran themselves ragged. It's me that's been trying too hard over the past decade and a half.
I've hosted just about every kind of kids' party you can think of, and let me tell you, the minimalist back yard party is the most work. From creating the simple-looking invitations (that actually take three hours swearing at Canva) to making wholesome snacks from scratch and filling our own damn piñata with healthy treats (*groan*) – it takes weeks of prep.
And that's just for one party. Times that bad boy by three and you're pretty much guaranteed to cry yourself to sleep for a month.
So no more.
From now on, if my children want to have a party, they can. But I won't be hosting it.
I am not a rich woman, but I will happily pay some perky uni student by the hour to entertain a bunch of sugar-loaded children and, most importantly, clean up afterwards. I'll pay someone way more talented than me to create the cake my children actually want, rather than trying to prove that I have an inkling of talent in that department. And I will either outsource the snacks or stop trying so hard and just put some Samboys in a bowl.
Let someone else find glitter in their skirting boards for months to come. Let someone else clean up when someone else's child vomits up their third piece of cake. Let someone else come up with fun ideas to entertain the troops and pretend to be enthusiastic as they lead a game of What's The Time Mr Wolf?
I'm done. That's how I'm going to make sure this year it's a happy birthday for all.