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Do we really need to spend a thousand dollars on renting a super slide for our backyard for a 6 year old’s birthday party?

This summer, I’ve been to a lot of kids parties and older adult parties. It used to be that the older you got, the more money you have, the less time you have left on this planet and so you partied in style. Not these days. It feels like the most expensive and outlandish parties these days are for kids who turn 4 or 5 or 6!

How about this one that my 6 year old daughter went to for her classmate who turned 7? It’s called the Sweet & Sassy party for little girls, where they dress up like fashion models, get makeup put on and walk an actual runway that’s in the store. They go into the store in our neighborhood strip mall and they’ll have a Salon, Spa and Celebrations! A real runway? Seriously – a real runway! They’re not even teenagers yet and they’re partying like they’re fashion models!

Or how about this mechanical bull for kids? Yes, you can rent a mechanical bull for your very own backyard. Actually, this does look pretty cool:) (Note to self: Get Mechanical Bull for my Big 5-0).

Don’t get me wrong. I love a good party like anyone else but is all of the stuff we get and do for these parties really worth it? Have we gone too far?

I have come to the realization that these super-sized parties are creating chaos in our life by making us more stressed out, anxious and broke. We get stressed just trying to find a place to do the party because you’ve got to book a place months in advance. We’ve got caterers, the Dora character, the balloon guy, the face painter, the photographer and more. It’s a 5-year-old birthday…so why does it feel like we’re throwing a wedding??!!

On top of that, I’m beginning to think that the lavishness of some of these birthday parties could also be building false expectations for our kids. From vacations in fancy resorts to a new sports car to the McMansion, our kids may start expecting super-sized things the rest of their lives. And once they enter the real world will they have the skills to hustle and work as hard so that they can actually afford those things?

In order to Embrace the Chaos, we must first STOP producing it!

Whatever happened to just having a few kids over your backyard and serving up pizza and ice cream???? Why do we force ourselves to be miserable trying to do these huge birthday parties, especially trying to figure out what to give in those wasteful party loot bags?

The most fun my daughter has had at a birthday party has been when she’s running around the basement with her girl friends dressed up like a princess while the boys chase them dressed as pirates. At one birthday party, her favorite moment was jumping on the small trampoline in the backyard. Jumping is FREE!

I believe we need to downsize our birthday parties and we can do it without having to downsize on any of the fun. It’s all about adjusting our own expectations, focusing on what’s really important to them and having the courage to let kids be kids. There’s pure happiness when kids get creative and talk to each other playing a game or jumping up and down and being silly…and Pizza! And those moments may not come from a monstrosity sitting in our backyard but will come when kids are allowed to play without all the extra fanfare. The giant green super slide may be fun for a couple of hours but having grounded kids, less stress, less expense and zero anxiety–will pay returns that last a lifetime.

By Bob Miglani

Bob Miglani is the Author of the Washington Post Bestseller, Embrace the Chaos, which is about learning to move forward in times of change, uncertainty and disruption. He grew up running his family's Dairy Queen store, the subject of his first book, Treat Your Customers. He worked in corporate America for 23 years. Left to pursue a life of passion working in a startup, writing, motivational speaking and learning how to live a life of contribution.

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