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5 Ways Not to Turn Into a Kids Party-Zilla

05/12/2015 03:43 pm ET | Updated May 12, 2016

Jelly, sandwiches, musical bumps and a slice of sponge-cake, wrapped in a napkin to take home afterwards.

Do these simple childhood memories make you yearn for the days when children's birthdays were all a bit less complicated?

Over the past few years, it seems that what used to be low-key celebrations have turned into major extravaganzas.

Social media -- and seeing the efforts that other parents are going to -- are one of the changes that have made us feel as if we need raise our game.

Reading about how celebs like Tamara Ecclestone organized a petting zoo, complete with Shetland ponies, to mark her daughter Sophia's first birthday has also made us feel as if that those sweet, traditional events we once loved are no longer good enough.

With all the pressure to keep up, no wonder it's been so easy for moms to get swept up into becoming party-zillas, manically multi-tasking to make sure every last detail goes to plan.

Indeed, according to a recent survey by parenting website Netmums, one in six parents say they spend more than £300 on their child's party -- and the annual kids party market in the UK has been valued at nearly £1.1bn.

But as an author looking at how and why parents feel pressured to compete, I also know that secretly many parents are dying to get off this bandwagon.

They are just not sure how to do it for fear of letting our kids down.

The good news is that it's possible. Just put your to-do list aside and save yourself time and stress with these five ways to fight back against those party-zilla urges.

1. Ask yourself what "special" really means. All the time and effort we put into kids birthdays comes out of a place of love. When everyone else is organizing huge bashes, it's hard not to worry our little ones won't feel left out if they don't have the same. But are these events better or just bigger? Over time, birthdays have become seen as a way to prove to our child how special they are. But really, the guaranteed way to do that is to organize a party that's just aimed at your youngster -- their interests, personality and development level. Not at everyone else.

2. Don't obsess over the detail. The truth is kids don't notice if the paper plates match the balloons or the entertainer has a drama degree from RADA. When you get carried away, it's also easy to forget that parental stress is catching. Kids pick up more about our moods than we imagine -- and that's no fun for anyone. I don't know a child who wouldn't rather have their parent smiling and laughing alongside them, than looking on anxiously from the side-lines like a corporate events manager.

3. Share the load. There's an old saying which goes: "It takes a village to raise a child." No one person should have to do it all -- and that applies to parties too. It may be that others, like your partner, are not offering to help because you are micromanaging so much they dare not get involved. Ask him what he, quite literally, thinks he can bring to the party, whether it's helping blow up the balloons or leading a sing-a-long on his old guitar. Don't stop there. Do you have a sister who loves baking cakes? Ask her to make one instead of giving a present. Do you have an artistic cousin who could have a go at some simple face-painting? Look on YouTube and you will find loads of tutorials for beginners, as well as ideas for party games.

4. Check in with kids on what they want. At the same time, think back to your best memories from your own childhood birthday parties? Were those golden moments about how much money your parents spent? Or old-fashioned fun that cost nothing? A sure-fire way to keep yourself grounded if you feel yourself getting carried away is to regularly check with your kids on what they would like.

5. Go one-stop shopping. The good news is that you can save yourself time and money by buying ready-made party kits where the decorations, cups and plates already match. Bunting and pom-poms are also quick and easy way to dress up a party venue designs and stretch for metres which means lots of decoration for your money. Get more for your cash by signing up to voucher websites or schemes in the months before, like the Argos Birthday Club, where by sharing your child's birthday, you'll get exclusive offers and inspiration to make your child's birthday memorable.

Tanith Carey is the author of Taming the Tiger Parent: How to put your child's well-being first in a competitive world, published by Little Brown, price £8.99.

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