The introduction of twins into my life was akin to inviting two tornadoes into my home.
The chaos feels constant.
I try to remind myself to keep it simple – SIMPLIFY is my new catch phrase (or maybe it’s more like a coping mechanism). But it’s not always easy.
And I’m learning that birthday parties are no exception.
There are, of course a few ADVANTAGES inherent in having twins:
One of the advantages is that they’re both at the same developmental level. If you go somewhere, all the same things will be age appropriate. Of course, this is by no means a guarantee that they’ll be interested in the same things, but at least they can both participate in whatever it is they choose – unlike sometimes when you have one older and one younger (or, you know, several different ages, depending on how many children you have) – think: roller coaster vs twirling strawberry ride.
Another advantage of having twins, at least when they are little, is that they likely have the same friends because they’re in the same class at any activities they participate in and likely at school too (not sure if this translates the same for twins of different genders). It’s easy to plan playdates when they want to play with the same kids. You get two playdates for the price of one!
A third advantage? I only have to plan ONE birthday party every year! That’s a lot of bang for your buck. Even a very simple birthday party comes with a fair amount of stress – planning, cleaning, noise etc. And I don’t have to do it twice – bonus 🙂
At least that’s how it was until now. Lucky me, I’ve got two birthdays on the SAME day. Yikes!
Up until this year, my twins have quite happily combined their party. They each picked a cake in the theme they liked and everything else was shared – guests, venue, theme, party. It was ‘easy.’
Not so this year.
Apparently the seventh birthday is where easy birthday party karma is coming around to nab me.
This year, Twin A wants a Pokemon themed party (and he has a very specific idea of how that’s going to look), and Twin B wants a Star Wars party (he’s a little more willing to compromise on the details, as long as there are light sabers and certain friends in attendance).
In addition to absolutely NOT agreeing on a theme (and no theme fusion was going to cut it), they don’t agree on the guest list either. So, even if we could manage to come up with a theme they both could get behind, the guest list would be WAY longer than I’m willing to accommodate at a single birthday party.
So, this year, I’m planning two birthday parties for the same day. Okay, the parties won’t actually be on the same day, that would be completely ridiculous, but I’m planning them for around the same date.
Those of you with multiple kids, who just happen to have birthdays around the same time, are probably thinking, ‘what is all the fuss?’
LET ME ENLIGHTEN YOU 😉
CHALLENGE 1 – who goes first
My first challenge to overcome is convincing one of the twins that he has to have the second party. Unlike when you have one older and one younger, and you can use their age as a reason for who gets to go first (he gets to go first because he’s older or because she’s younger), I don’t have that. It’s just completely random.
This is the same reason why I don’t really like bunk beds – don’t look at me to pick who gets to sleep on the top bunk, because they BOTH want to sleep on the top bunk and picking one is tantamount to picking which one I prefer to make cry.
But I digress.
CHALLENGE 2 – The guest list part 1
My second challenge is actually my mom’s fault.
Just kidding, Mom.
But it does neatly portray the trouble with the guests lists.
My mom, their gran, is coming for their birthday this year. Which is really amazing, and we’re all super excited, except she’s only going to be here over one weekend, so she can only go to one party (because I’m NOT having both parties on the same weekend) – which one will it be?
The part of me that’s a bit chicken is hoping that the rec centre will make the decision for me by only having one date available for one of the party themes, because then it’s their fault – sorry Saanich Rec 😉
CHALLENGE 3 – The guest list part 2
The last challenge, okay not the last challenge, but the last twin specific one that’s bothering me right now, is that their guest lists have some overlap. I know how busy people are; I know how much stress fitting in a birthday party can be. So, I feel a bit guilty about having two parties; it feels excessive. I’m trying to remind myself that I wouldn’t be feeling this way if I had two kids of different ages – of course, in that scenario, I’d be working with two different groups of friends, but still.
My biggest worry, though, is that some of the kids that are on both lists might not be able to make it to both parties. How am I going to explain that one? Yes, I know I can just talk to them – but, you’re remembering how ‘reasonable’ little kids are, right? – there will be tears.
How am I dealing with my ‘twin challenges’?
PROBLEM: Who gets the first party?
SOLUTION: Rock – Paper – Scissors
Saanich Recreation didn’t come through for me, so I had to resort to some old school techniques. A quick round of rock – paper – scissors had it solved. Twin A would have his Pokemon party first. Incidentally, this also solved the problem of which party their Gran will be attending (and not even a tear so far). Twin A was fine with his gran missing the party as long as it was a Pokemon themed party – DONE.
Sorry, Mom – don’t worry, I can’t compete with Pokemon either, if that makes you feel better at all.
PROBLEM: Guests not being able to make both parties.
SOLUTION: Fingers crossed.
Yup, I don’t really have solution for this one, short of bribing the other parents, so for now, I’ve got my fingers crossed hoping it all works out. And I’m trying to not worry about it because I recognize that there’s nothing I can do about it.
REGULAR EVERY DAY BIRTHDAY PARTY CHALLENGES
Now that the ‘twin challenges’ have been dealt with, how am I going to handle planning two birthday parties, while still dealing with everything else that’s going on in my life? You know, all the adulting that I have to do on a regular basis that has me exhausted and tied up in anxious knots (oh wait, that might be my chronic pain and anxiety disorder – oops).
So what’s my game plan?
I’m going to SIMPLIFY in two steps (there were originally three, but I SIMPLIFIED 😉 ):
I’m going to let someone else do everything that I can. I like to make things. I like to do things myself. But, I recognize that I don’t have the time or the energy, and I want to have enough energy at each party to engage in Pokemon Dodgeball (please don’t tell him I called it that, even thought that is clearly what it is, and he’s being completely unreasonable correcting me every time I slip up and call it that) and have a light saber duel.
The biggest piece here is taking the party out of our house. We’re having the party at the rec centre. They can do all the cleaning and decorating J. They also supply some party people. It’s a win-win, really. Of course, it’s not as cheap as a home party, but then I have to clean. And let’s not forget that it’ll likely be raining on the day, so everyone will be inside – YIKES!
I’ll be honest, I love having the birthday parties at my house, it reminds me of my childhood, but I also know how tired I get from all the noise, mess and chaos – all the noise, mess and chaos will still be there at the rec centre, but it’s a bigger space, so it won’t seem so overwhelming. And some of the mess isn’t my problem.
I’m also NOT making the cakes. The grocery store is going to do that for me! They make beautiful cakes which take me no time at all to pick up. Plus, it’s really giving back to the community by providing jobs, right?
I’m fighting the urge to get fancy. Pinterest is filled with amazing ideas, but I’m not even going to look!
I’m going to stick with one or two organized elements (which will be led by the lovely staff provided by the rec centre), and then the kids can just free play – it’s what they love, it’s all they need.
This is actually how we’ve always done their parties. Their parties are really just large playdates with cake and a few streamers.
What’s left to simplify?
I like to feed everyone. Okay, actually I don’t. Cooking isn’t my thing. But, we’ve always provided food, usually wiener wraps – amazingly delicious and easy, if not healthy. You can find the recipe for a jazzed up version here. (Our version is the same only minus the cheese and using regular hot dogs instead of smokies). Food is just one more thing to worry about, though, so out it goes.
This year, the parties are scheduled for the afternoon, so everyone will have full tummies when they arrive. All we need is cake and maybe a few munchies.
THAT’S THE WHOLE SHEBANG
I realize that I haven’t revealed any earth-shattering strategies or life hacks that will make birthday party planning a breeze for you; it’s all pretty simple, straight forward stuff. But, maybe, that’s the actual message. There are so many ways that our lives can get complicated and stressful – like by having twins – but, that doesn’t mean we have to let it happen.
Now, I can’t give back my twins (nor would I, if I could) but, I can learn from the chaos that they brings, that sometimes it’s best to SIMPLIFY.
And when you’re simplifying, two steps is always better than three 😉
So, two birthday parties in the span of 8 days, here I come!
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