I am a bit of a “type A” personality. I was involved with everything in high school, from the student newspaper to a Jewish youth group. I then went on to college, where I became president of my sorority. For much of my adolescent and early adult life, I was in charge of something, planning something, delegating something — always doing something.
I thrived on deadlines and responsibilities and was able to manage the stress that comes with them. I was also a lot younger, sleeping a lot longer and only had to worry about myself.
Since becoming a parent, I have found my interest in doing all the things has waned. Managing my family has occupied so much space inside me that I often dread adding another responsibility. Some might call it lazy, or poor time management skills, and they might be right. But, I know what I can handle, and I don’t want to push myself over the edge.
So, when my younger sister offered to plan my son’s fifth birthday party I said yes. I let her pick the theme, pick the favors and pick the activity. I would be in charge of food and set up. A part of me wanted to say no. After all, this is my kid, and it is hard for me to let someone take control. Also, there was the self-imposed guilt of not being the type of mom who bakes her kid’s birthday cake from scratch, makes all of the decorations and hand writes all of the invitations.
When I try to be that mom, I often take on too much and end up failing in the process. It’s not that I am not creative, or talented, I just don’t have the stamina to see those projects through. My sister, however, is the opposite. She thrives on crafting and event planning. She is motivated and thorough and good organizer.
When I told her how good she was at all of this, she replied by pointing out my writing skills, implying everyone is good at something, and it is ok to look to others who might be better suited for the task at hand.
Letting my sister plan the party also enabled me to get my family involved in my son’s party in a meaningful way. Joining her on the fun, was my mother who created decorations and set up the project for the super heroes theme, and my father, who created an obstacle course for the kids. I loved watching my sister, especially, as she interacted with the kids. She looked like a seasoned pro, and I only half joked about offering her party planning services to my guests.
I happily took the lead on food and drinks, thankful I could focus on doing one thing, and not worry about making the perfect party. Even, with less to do, I still stressed, and debated over things like making my own food or buying it from the store. I opted to make some things myself, such as the pasta and a couple of dips, but purchased ready-made pizza bagels and a birthday cake, both of which exceeded my expectations.
An unexpected and welcomed result of letting others help me was the lifted burden of stress. Because I wasn’t freaking out over every detail, I was actually able to enjoy the party a little bit and even get to know some of the parents I hadn’t met yet. I was more relaxed then I remember ever being at one of my kids’ celebrations. And, I think that made it one of the better parties. Our son behaved great and his friends had fun. Even clean up was easier this time around.
My sister is family, and I she was kind enough to help me out of the goodness of her heart, though I happily chipped in for the supplies. However, I can now understand why families might hire someone to help them plan their kids’ parties. I no longer roll my eyes at this. Some of the celebrations are such a big production, I can’t imagine how anyone manages them on their own, though I know many moms do.
I don’t know if I will always have help planning birthday parties. My sister is plenty busy, and life can obviously get in the way. I do know that if she, or anyone else, offers to help, I won’t be too proud to say, “yes.”
Do you let others help with party planning? Tell me about it, below.