Delegate your way to Fun!

One of the three themes that MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers) International has for the 2015/16 year is to “Embrace Rest”. I love this! My first thought was that it meant we should all go rest and relax in a hammock on a beach in the Caribbean. Wonderful vision, not always possible. What I believe “Embracing Rest” means more practically is delegating what exhausts you and enjoying the activities that energize you.

I love parties, it’s what I do, and I want you to celebrate. I truly believe that a festive gathering is one of the best, most joyful experiences to have. But if celebrating is only an exhausting stressful experience for you, then you are not going to do it. I have met many people who tell me that they would love to have a party for their kids, but it’s just too much work. Or their house isn’t clean, or they can’t bake a cake, or managing fifteen seven year olds is too overwhelming. These complaints can be very real. So what if you could get rid of the things that hold you back so you could get to the fun part. What if you could let someone else who is really good at that thing that drains you take care of it?
If you could delegate the things that exhaust you and keep the things that bring you joy, fulfill you, and energize you, wouldn’t that be perfect? Would you say YES to celebrating if it was fun, brought joy to your family and friends, and was filled with things you love? I gift
you a plan for getting rid of the exhaustion so you can embrace the best!

First, figure out what’s sucking the life out of you:

  1. Determine the things you hate to do.
  2. Figure out what is stopping you from moving forward.
  3. Ask if these things are essential.

Next ask, “Can these things be delegated, given away, or hired out?” If yes, then get rid of them and do the things you want to do! Find a baby sitter, Mother, friend, house keeper, or a professional. If cooking makes you stressed, then bring it in. If planning crafts makes you cringe, then bring someone in. Don’t do what you don’t want to do, do the stuff you love.

Finally, and most importantly, focus on the fun:

  1. What brings you joy?
  2. What do you find fun to do?
  3. What leaves you happy, proud?
  4. When you picture the after party time, are you glad you did it?

If you love making a pretty table, then do that. If being the party photographer brings you pleasure, then be it. Find the joy in your celebration. This is what Embracing Rest means to me – doing the fun stuff, having the celebration, and getting rid of the things that drain you.

Moms can have fun too!Need help with your party? We bring the games and crafts and run the party. Just ask if you need help to enjoy your child’s special day. I think this is an essential idea when preparing for your child’s next birthday. Do what you love, delegate the rest!

Birthdays at the Holidays – The challenge of sharing your special day

 My friend Nicole has her birthday on Thanksgiving. Why must she share  her birthday with a turkey? How can we make our kids’ birthdays special,  or even remembered, when the rest of the world enjoys a different special  moment. Jonathan has it even worse with a December 25th birthday. He  only gets one present a year while his big sister has two days of receiving  gifts. Jonathan and Nicole can’t even have a friend filled birthday party  because their friends have to travel or have family obligations during the  holidays. It’s not fair!

Not only is it hard on the birthday boy or girl, it’s hard on the family. As a  busy parent who knows the importance of celebrating my wonderful child  on his or her special day, I know it can be hard to focus and give the  attention to the planning needed during this crazy busy season. Nicole  claims she didn’t have an actual birthday party until she was 10!

Sure, when the kids are young, it might not be such a big deal to share a birthday when there is so much joy, family, and celebration. They might actually get multiple parties! My Grandfather who shared his birthday with the 4th of July had us all convinced the fireworks were just for him. The notoriety of being a New Year Baby or having a spooky Halloween birthday can actually be fun…. but only for a while.

Here are three things you can do for those people you love, big and small, who share birthdays with major holidays.

  1. Make sure to create a special birthday tradition that is just for them. Make chocolate chip happy face pancakes on the morning of her birthday, special even when there is Christmas dinner that night. How about a special shopping trip for a birthday gift, or a visit to the aquarium. In my family every person gets to pick their dinner restaurant on the night (or close to the night) of their birthday, even when it’s holiday vacation and we are traveling out of town.
  2. Keep the birthday distinct and allow time and space for other themes. Halloween themed birthday parties every year will get stale. Make room for Super Heroes, and Harry Potter, Cooking, and American Doll themed parties.
  3.  Move the party to a new date to avoid direct conflicts and vacations so that friends can attend and celebrate. Missing friends is the biggest hardship I hear from Holiday Birthday kids. The party doesn’t have to be on the actual birthday, so move it for maximum celebration! Mom and Dad birthday planners will appreciate this too.

Let me know how you handle the holiday birthdays in your life. What are your frustrations and solutions? Reply here or on Facebook!

Happy Halloween!!

Happy Halloween

Halloween is a great reason to celebrate, and a wonderful spirited “kickoff celebration” to the entire American holiday season.  Halloween is so much fun with costumes, candy, and parties… I have lots of friends, clients, and acquaintances that can’t get enough of this crazy spooky festival!

How about you? Are you a decorator and put lights, cobwebs, blow-ups, and grave stones all over your yard? Maybe you just love to carve or decorate a pumpkin or two. Do you spend the year concocting scary treats and candy goodies to bring to school or pass out to neighborhood kids? Are you the crafty parent who loves creating amazing costumes from fabric and clothes hangers or maybe you scour the web with your kids, or just take them to Party City? How much fun is this holiday!

There are lots of ways to celebrate, with kids and with adult friends. My tradition has been to help my kids create their own costume ideas (trips to several stores and makeup support), carve a few Jack-o-lanterns to illuminate, and cook up a storm. My kids love my homemade green mac-and-cheese, and my adult friends have always loved my stew baked in a pumpkin and my famous hot mulled wine. We lived on one of these Halloween crazy streets for years in Chicago, and after the 14 huge bags of candy was gone, adults and kids would come inside for candy trading and feasting. My kids are bigger now, and we live on a quieter street, but we are still outside for the block party with a cauldron of green mac-and-cheese and my coffee taurine filled with the hot mulled wine… traditions I can’t resist!

What are your traditions? What’s fun for you? Let me know in the comments below or on Facebook!

Keep the celebrations coming, and be sure to get a running start and a big leap for this “gateway” holiday for the season!

Curse You, Pinterest!

The Parties You Can Do Are The Parties You Should Do

Have you tried to plan a party with Pinterest? They make it look so easy, don’t they? Your child imagines a perfect theme, or you imagine a perfect party for your child, and you head over to one of the best places for beautiful ideas: Pinterest. A few clicks, and you see your whole vision is possible. Not only possible, amazing, outstanding, even fantastic! All of your paper goods match and are enhanced, the theme is present in every detail of the delicious food selections, center pieces coordinate, perfect colors in perfect lighting, perfect fonts, and best of all, the over reaching coordination is breathtaking. Each picture is better than the next and pretty soon your head is swimming with possibilities. All you need? A color printer, raffia string the shade of turquoise blue, a Wilton tip, and a hot glue gun. That’s all.

Yup, they make it look so easy. But we know it’s not. It’s overwhelming, even intimidating.  And an hour of clicking around later, you need a nap. At this point in the process, you are thinking of ways to get out of it.

Pinterest ruined you. The fantasy of “Martha” ruined the possibility of fun. If it wasn’t so exhausting, you might even be angry!

Well, it’s time to take back the fun, take back the party. Look for your ideas on line, but don’t let yourself get sucked into the vortex of perfection and appearances. Those Pinterest pictures are for someone who had much more time on their hands and a much better glue gun. Don’t let them scare you away, that stuff may be nice dressing, but the main course is what you can actually put on the plate without killing yourself. Don’t let them scare you off, forcing you to give up on the party, you can do this.

Stay away from the perfectly coiffed table setting and don’t be lured by the overlyIMG_1413 themed recipes. If it requires you to quit your day job and risk personal injury, it’s not necessary. Focus on your child, focus on the activity, and focus on the fun. If you need help with any of these, just give us a call, we are always available for a free party strategy session, and we promise to be less scary and way more fun than Pinterest.

RSVP – Why Bother?

There is some debate in the party community about how to deal with the RSVP. Some invitations give phone numbers, emails, dates to respond by, others ask for regrets only, or don’t specify at all. What is the proper etiquette?
The party host should specify the information they need to run a successful party. The invitee should reply as asked. It’s that simple.
if you are the person hosting the party, ask for exactly what you need. If you need an exact number 5 days in advance, then ask. Specify how to best contact you, and give a reply date. Do follow up if you don’t hear. Do not follow up/call/badger for more information or earlier information than you requested. A tie dye or a cooking party, for which materials are being ordered or created for exact numbers, require knowledge of who is coming. A magician party or a rental blow-up play house does not need an exact count. Be realistic, ask because you need the information. The reason I suggest a follow up call? Not only might you require the information, but sometimes that call can catch a lost or miss-mailed invitation.
If you are the recipient of an invitation with an RSVP, PLEASE RESPOND as requested. Do not apply your own philosophy to the situation. I had a Mom once tell me that she never responds as a policy, she believes in regrets only. Well, good for her, but its not what the host wanted or needed. It is not too much to ask to be considerate!
Finally, always include in your response if you will be late or need to leave early… again, it’s just polite!
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