parent opinion

'I planned every detail of my daughter's birthday party. Then I sent my husband an invoice.'

"She can have a birthday party when she asks for one."

This is the response I gave my husband year after year when our daughter's birthday grew closer and he began his annual ritual of nagging me to plan a celebration.

For the first three years of her life, our daughter's birthday was marked with a simple cake surrounded by her favourite people; her immediate family, cousins and grandparents. No balloons, no banners and no fanfare - after all, she hadn't yet shown signs of actually grasping the concept of a birthday at all.

Watch: The truth about kids' birthday parties. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

This year was different. A few months ago, our daughter returned from a friend's 4th birthday celebration listing the things she wanted at her 'pardy'. She wanted to wear a princess dress. She wanted a unicorn-Spiderman cake. And she wanted to play pass the parcel.

My husband, literally unable to contain his enthusiasm, began prompting more trimmings: An Elsa performer? Nail painting? A magic show! In other words, fanfare.

My husband grew up with fanfare. Birthdays were a big deal in his community. Think a few hundred people in a hall, a multi-tier cake and a legit puppet show. He loved his birthday parties and I'll admit they look like great fun. 


They also look like a sh*t tonne of work. Work I knew I'd have to do on my own, when the time came to organise our children's far less fancy dos. Not because I'm a super-organised-alpha-mum (I identify as a 'Good Enough' parent who is prone to getting overwhelmed by too many balls in the air). Nor am I a 'controlling maternal gatekeeper'.

I knew I'd have to plan any birthday party on my own simply because my husband... just can't. Trust me. He has 99 great qualities but social planning is NOT one.

I've tried everything to 'empower' him in the past, but there's no way around it. This is the guy who was allocated the task of invitations for our wedding a decade ago. Which is why some guests received a postcard with an image of a South Park style bride and groom and the opening lines "Come to our wedding b*tchezzz". Other guests didn't receive their invite at all.

Which is how I found myself Googling, 'Hall hire near me' a few months ago. It's how I found myself thinking about the most cost effective way to make a unicorn-Spiderman cake happen during drives and showers. It's the reason why I was the one stalking the aisles of Kmart, looking for appropriate gifts to put inside the (pass the) parcel. 

Tami's kids making the pass the parcel lucky dip. Image: Supplied.


Facing a shelf of pre-made Woolies cakes it suddenly occurred to me I had spent the last three months performing the task of a party planner... only... unpaid.

So I did the only rational thing one can do in this situation. I began logging my minutes (they all add up) to present them to my husband, in the form of an invoice.

Tami's invoice to her husband. Image: Supplied.


But how much to charge him? What are Sydney party planner fees these days? Siri wasn't being so helpful (maybe she's fed up with all of her unpaid labour too) so I asked the Mamamia Outlouders Brains Trust. As usual, the group came through with the goods!

At the time of writing this, there are currently 42 comments on the post and many of them confirm that party planners charge between $200-1000 an hour so I went with $600 p/h, straight down the middle. 

Before I finalised my invoice, I took some time to read the other comments on my post. 

One person suggested an easy gathering in the park (with Sydney's unpredictable weather?) and a pub's beer garden as the wet weather option. I did previously investigate this, but it turns out a lot of these venues have a 'No Kids Party' policy due to proximity to pokies, smokers and drunk people. Another suggested a Maccas party, but sadly those have been paused due to COVID.


Another Top Contributor asked if our kid would even remember the effort. I'm with you, Top Contributor! Believe me when I tell you I am low key about parties. So much so, our daughter's kindy teacher took pity on me and kindly agreed to let us have the party (i.e. a cake and a few games) at our daughter's daycare! But as another Outlouder pointed out, "Even something simple like that is a reasonably big mental load..."

Listen to This Glorious Mess to learn our mental load hacks. Post continues below.

The comment that made me laugh the most was this one: "And you're still in a relationship?!" I'm assuming (hoping?) this was ironic. Luckily, my husband and I both have a good sense of humour. He even agreed to be the Elsa performer to save money (I shut down the nail-painting and magician).

Tami's husband as Elsa. Image: Supplied.


I want it on the record, that I do appreciate the mental load that my husband carries as the primary income earner. I will never fully understand the pressure that comes with that and if it wasn't for him, we wouldn't be able to afford the basics, let alone the birthday trimmings. And I'm aware of the enormous privilege I sustain in having the child to celebrate in the first place.

But I think it's okay to acknowledge how much of a privilege it is to be the 'fun parent'. The one who gets to show up and enjoy from scratch. The one who receives pats on the back for wearing the costume and being 'such an engaged dad'.

That's why I'm giving myself a pat on the back this year too. Or rather, I'm going to use some of the money from the aforementioned invoice to pay someone else to pat me on the back. And the shoulders. And the neck. Half hour massage here I come.

Feature Image: Supplied.