In just a few weeks my little blue-eyed wonder will turn three. Birthdays and holidays seem to be peak times of motherhood madness and can often bring out the worst in us, replete with mom-pressure to make sure the big day goes off as perfectly as possible.

I’ve heard that confession is good for the soul, so in the spirit of keeping it real (and hopefully making moms everywhere feel better about themselves), here is a list of 5 things my daughter isn’t getting for her birthday:

1)      A Pinterest party Look, if you have the time and energy to throw a party worth pinning (and more importantly – if that’s what makes you and your birthday boy/girl happy), then by all means, go for it. However, my answer for that list is D) none of the above.

When I was a kid, it was kind of like, “Here’s a cake and a watermelon. Go outside and run around in the sprinkler.” (I was a Florida kid with a July birthday.) And guess what? We always had an amazing time. I don’t think kids today are all that different, unless we make them so by constantly upping the ante and creating crazy high expectations for ourselves and them.

For my daughter’s party, I bought Doc McStuffins plates and napkins from Walmart and Doc McStuffins crayons, coloring books, and puzzles from the Dollar Tree. We’ll have toys and balloons out, but there will be no organized games, bouncy houses, Etsy banners, or treat bags. Keep it simple, sisters, and let the kiddos use their imaginations.

2)      A homemade cake I baked her for 10 months in my belly. That’s all I’ve got.

3)      Caillou anything   Daaaaaaannnnnnggg that kid is annoying, amirght?

4)      A pet – We just got our girl potty-trained. I really cannot bring anything else that poops into our house.

5)      An expensive gift – Some of the best parenting advice we’ve received came from our pediatrician: Parenting is a marathon, not a sprint. (Or in the words of Tim Elmore, “pace yourself, pace your kids.”) If we surprise our daughter with an iPad or a trip to Disney for her 3rd birthday, what will she expect when she’s 8, 11, or 16? How could we possibly keep that up?

I’m not sure exactly what we will give her for her birthday, but I can tell you that it probably won’t be worth more than about $30. We want her to have fun toys, comfortable clothes, and books that are meaningful to her, but we are also trying to keep the budget bar as low as we can for as long as we can. I know there will come a day where she just HAS to have that certain brand of sneakers or jeans and this will be more difficult to navigate, but thankfully, we aren’t there yet. (Not to mention, she will receive gifts from other people as well, and our house can only hold so much stuff.)


My daughter’s party won’t be decked out in trendy handmade crafts, but she will be surrounded by the people she loves. She won’t get a flashy gift, but she will get a gift that makes her feel special. We won’t rent out a gymnasium or an ice skating rink, but we’ll welcome people into her favorite play space – our home. To the world, it may be understated, but to us it’s just right. Besides, if this list helps even one mom to take some pressure off herself…well that’s just icing on the store-bought cake.



Leah Baacke

Leah is a mom, librarian, and blogger living and writing in the Tampa Bay, FL, area. Visit her blog, The Open Book Mama, for her hilarious musings on motherhood, reading recommendations for you and your kids, and more!