Schneck Medical Center

SUM 2015

Spirit of Women magazine is a national publication presented to women by hospitals and their physicians. The magazine provides up-to-date, evidence-based healthcare information and promotes our hospitals as leaders in women's health excellence.

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9 F A M I L Y S T Y L E w w w. s p i r i t o f w o m e n . c o m S U M M E R 2 015 S P I R I T O F W O M E N By Stephanie Thompson Kids' birthday parties: Are they out of control? SHUTTERSTOCK to the basics—cake, ice cream and simple, age-appropriate socializing and activities. "People are often so hard on themselves and create so much anxiety around birthday parties, trying to keep up with the Joneses, but they shouldn't," says Linda Kaye, owner of longtime New York City party planning company Partymakers. "Kids especially are not critical if things aren't perfect—they're just looking to have a good time." BUDGET-FRIENDLY FUN An uncomplicated party may be easier on the pocketbook too, but that doesn't mean the gathering can't be just as memorable for your child. "You can always carry out a fun theme on a nickel," says Kaye. "The main thing to focus on is your child's interests rather than what other people might be doing, and put together a short hour-and-a-half relaxed celebration with a celebratory theme." The Internet is awash in children's birthday party theme ideas for the do-it-yourself parent, just a search engine away. You may also want to look for inspiration in the simpler party games and themes you enjoyed in your own childhood, such as pin the tail on the donkey, count the candy in the jar, balloon relays and scavenger hunts. "Just try to give [your child] a little special experience. It's a happy time," says Kaye. • W hen the planning process for your child's birthday party starts to resemble a major military campaign, it's time to think about scaling back the whole operation. In fact, party planners and child development experts alike agree that simple is probably best for the annual celebration no matter what age your child is. "These birthday parties can become absolutely absurd, often because parents feel that the kind of party they throw for their child is a reflection on them and their social standing in the community," says Potomac, Md.-based child psychiatrist Dr. Michael Brody. While birthdays are "important to note as a milestone in a child's life," he says, often parents plan a party that is "too big, too stressful and too materialistic, which [can] result in the child being unhappy and crying, which is not what you want." LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL Begin the party planning by keeping in mind the developmental stage of your child and his or her personality. Gatherings for ages 1 and 2 will work best when it's just family and a few close friends getting together over cake. At age 3 and up, you can start involving your child in the process to see what he would enjoy doing and which friends he might like to invite—within reason. And don't be afraid to make it easy on yourself by sticking

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