There I see it. My three-year-old walking out with a small plastic bag filled with all the treasured junk, candy, and treats in one hand and a shiny juice box in the other. Did I miss something or did he attend a birthday party during the school day? Well, kind of. I was shocked to find this same occurrence happening over and over as these new four-year-olds were celebrating their birthdays at school. Was this the new norm and was I expected to do the same for his birthday? What happened to just bringing simple cupcakes, cookies, or donuts in for a small celebration? As a mom who wished she was parenting in a different decade apparently, I just wish parents didn’t feel the need to go above/beyond all the time to make every small thing in life so damn elaborate.
As if parenting these little humans isn’t hard enough after navigating through a worldwide pandemic while holding a full-time job, and making sure my kids become kind citizens in the world, now social media has ruined us all as everyone is trying to “one up” one another with these elaborate parenting “hacks”.
Alright, I own the Meijer version of this for the simplicity of only washing one piece of plastic for my child’s lunch. It also makes it mindless when packing, as I fill the top 3 sections with fruits, veggies, and presumably veggie straws. The bottom is always a simple sandwich of some sort. But when you look online on social media, people are spending an extreme amount of time creating elaborate lunches that I can say firsthand your child is going to eat in the last 10 minutes of their lunch period because the other 15 minutes were spent talking and playing around with friends. Save yourself time and buy a Lunchable.
I am SO glad the trend of Promposals was not around for my teenage years, as I can see my face becoming beet red at some of the ways teenage boys are expected to ask girls to high school dances. I obviously have not been to high school in quite a few years, but I cannot imagine the dance floor has turned into a choreographed routine like in a teenage rom-com movie. Boys are still bashful, and I cannot imagine forcing a 17-year-old boy to ask a girl out in an elaborate manner when he will barely be dancing at the actual event. And chances are, this is another part of life that is going to just fall back on the mom peering from the window to see how HER creative idea played out in real life. As a mom of 3 future teenage boys, I am not looking forward to this and hope this trend dies.
[Intensely] Themed Birthday Parties/Playdates
Let’s get back to what these events are for…kids spending time with other kids while having fun. Simply put. Do you know what birthdays I remember the most in my childhood? I remember my birthday parties at McDonald’s where we were playing a ring toss game with cones in a side room. I remember all of my friends around me as I blew out candles on a cake of a themed cake I do not remember at all. I remember my 8th birthday where The Goofy Movie was just released on VHS (Gasp!) and we all sat around with pizza and watched it. Kids remember the way they felt in those moments, not the balloon arch and butterfly release at the end of the party.
Let’s also bring back simple playdates with simple snacks that we do not have to provide any entertainment for our children. As parents, we can sit back and enjoy one another’s company while we let our kids be kids. It is okay to not have the entire playdate or cookout planned for them. Being bored is absolutely a skill kids need to learn to manage, even at an early age.
Handmade Holiday Treats
I’m talking about all of those over-the-top Valentines that kids are no longer a part of, and the parents have fully taken over. It is okay to have kids pick out their own Valentine’s at the store or even create their own. This not only helps them practice their own fine motor skills, but it also gives them a little reminder of why we give out Valentine’s or other holiday treats. As a teacher, I watch these treats get opened, and immediately the candy/toy is taken out and the Pinterest-inspired card goes right into the trash.
I’m not trying to take the joy out of some mothers’ lives, as I can see why some of these things are fun to do. But, I think we need to look at how much is already (unnecessarily) expected of us, as mothers, and take a page from our own moms’ past parenting styles and let kids just be kids. Let the elaborate playdates, parties, lunches, treats, and so on just come out every once in a while. Our job as parents are to raise happy, healthy, and kind humans. Let’s make sure our focus is on that, rather than all the frilly Pinterest-themed things in life.