Stress-free child's birthday party? Yes please - The Oily Story
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Stress-free child’s birthday party? Yes please

The idea of my kids birthday parties would stress me right out. Who to invite? Who to leave out? Who can be in a room with who? Cleaning the house. Planning the food. The shopping, the gifts.

It was exhausting and I was just as exhausted when it was over because of the clean up when everyone left.

A few years ago we went away for a weekend at a hotel with a pool and a slide for no occasion whatsoever. We had an absolute blast. The four of us – before we became five – loved every minute and our son said “can we come back?” That’s when the idea hit. What if we went to a hotel instead of having parties!

The idea seemed crazy and we thought for sure none of the kids would ever go for it.

So naturally, the very next birthday we asked the kids if they wanted a party with their family and friends or if they wanted to go away for a weekend back to that hotel. They looked at us like duh.

That was the easy part.

It was nerve-wracking trying to figure out how to tell our families that we weren’t having them over to celebrate our son’s birthday, but you know what? They understood. As a family, we have to do what we need to do for us. And that’s what we did once we got over the horrible guilt.

We started a new tradition where we get to celebrate their birth, and take a breath being a family. The pace of life doesn’t allow 48 hours to unplug and just be us. We deserve that, and that’s why we do it, on purpose, five times a year.

What. A. Gift.

So how do you do it?

Have the conversation

“Mom, Dad, we gave the kids the option of having a party or going away for the weekend to unplug and recharge at a hotel with a pool. They chose hotel. We know you love to celebrate with us so why don’t we go out for dinner sometime the week of little Jenny’s birthday?”

That’s it. That’s the straightforward and honest conversation.

Our families want us to be happy right? And don’t you think if they knew half of the craziness that went on before this tradition started they would have told us to quit the parties long ago? Instead, get together for dinner at a restaurant and celebrate on a smaller scale.

When we approached it this way, they understood.

Know where to stay

Look for a spot with activities your family wants to do. Being in this part of Canada we get summer for like six hours (I’m only half kidding) so we always look for a spot with a heated indoor pool.

Are there any Kids Eat Free, or Bring Your Own Wine restaurants?

Download this list for some tips, and if you want to bring some food along to make it an even more affordable weekend!

Experience taught us to ask some questions when we’re looking for a pool.

  1. Is your pool heated?
  2. If it is, what temperature is it kept at? This is a crucial question. The right answer is anything above 86.
  3. What are the hours the pool is open? Sometimes the pools aren’t open on weekdays or they only open late in the day. We make sure we’re maximizing our fun time so asking these questions for onsite entertainment is key.
  4. Are there any big tournaments or anything going on during the time you’ll be there? Once, only once, we got caught staying at a hotel while a teenage boys hockey tournament was happening. The problem isn’t the noise, it’s how crowded and splashy the pool gets.


Be where your feet are

While you’re away with your family, truly unplug and enjoy them. Play the whole time you’re away. Those are the moments they’ll remember. If you have to check your phone or reply to some messages, do it for a few moments here or there…. but be where your feet are.

How to deal with any residual guilt from not having a party.

You’ll get over it, I promise. It’ll come to be how your family does birthdays and you’ll make it a new tradition. You might as well try it while they’re still able to travel with you and can’t wait to jump into your arms from the edge of the pool.

So go ahead, make the reservations… you may just love it.

Inspired to try? Reach out to me, I’d love to hear how it went!


Try this one easy tip to stop crying when you're cutting onions.
To the mom who doesn't think so, you got this.