(Last Week Was Intense) + 5 Party Planning Tips For Busy Mamas
Last weekend, I was in Philadelphia for Wharton's Spring Welcome Weekend which took valuable time away from my ability to run errands the weekend before my daughter's birthday party. When I returned to Los Angeles Sunday 4/12 on a redeye from Philly, I got a few hours of sleep before I was slammed with work for my primary Matovu Consulting client as well as remote work for a new client based in Nigeria. I was so happy to see Nyah on Monday when I left the office, especially because I had not seen her in one week (she was with my ex-husband for Spring Break). I have never felt more loved than when I embrace my daughter after more than 48 hours apart. The feeling of joy and unconditional love is overwhelming. 
Tuesday, 4/13 I was back to my normal routine: wake up at 5:30 am, respond to emails, catch up on relevant industry news, get Nyah ready for pre-school at 6:45 am, on the road by 7:20 am - breakfast in the car, school drop-off then my hour commute to my client site followed by a grueling day at the office, pick up from school by 5:30 pm, cook and serve dinner, try to respond to client emails and texts, bath time with Nyah, followed by our nightly story-time. On a good night, I am able to fit in a home workout. 
Wednesday 4/15 was Nyah's birthday and the launch of MBAMama.com. Launching the blog on Nyah's birthday seemed like a great branding idea six months ago, but practically, it was a challenge to pull off. Lets just say I pulled my first all-nighter since my days as an undergrad at USC. Somehow, I got out the door with Nyah and dropped her off at school wearing her super chic "Birthday Girl" tee. I left the office early, picked up balloons and flowers and had my baby-sitter and friend, Angelica, pick up cupcakes, flatware, napkins, and ice cream cups for all the kids in Nyah's school. She was so surprised when I showed up at her school in the middle of the day. Her entire class sang happy birthday, ate the goodies  and left together to hang out and enjoy the rest of her special day. 
Thursday and Friday were a complete blur but thanks to the productivity Gods, I made it through. Saturday 4/18 was the Toddler Turn-Up, Frozen-Themed Birthday Pool Party Extravaganza I had been loosely planning for roughly one month. Now that the dust has settled and the party was a success, I wanted to share my thoughts on tips to plan an epic birthday party for your little one based on my own experience this past week. 
1. Outsource! Outsource! Outsource!
Utilize your friends, family, and even professionals to assist with the logistics of the party. For Nyah's party, I had help from my baby-sitter, Angelica, her mom, Larissa, and my friend, Ameer, who I hired to take photos. Angelica and Larissa helped purchase last minute items so I would not need to leave the venue, and Ameer made sure all the best moments were captured in beautiful photos. There is no way I could have handled those tasks while I worked to manage several toddlers pumped up on chocolate cake and juice. I also delegated responsibilities to unsuspecting guests: "would you mind throwing these kosher beef hot dogs on the grill," and "can you please do me a huge favor and go grab the ice cream from the freezer in the rec room?" You have not managed chaos until you've executed a toddler's birthday party. I'll take the boardroom over screaming toddlers any day. 
2. The Dollar Store Is Your Friend
Since being promoted Mama-In-Chief, I've learned that kids could care less about whether you purchased an item from the thrift shop or a big box store. They just want to have fun, and they break stuff. A lot of stuff. Even if it's cool and they really like it. Odds are it will get broken at some point. So, why spend all your hard-earned coins buying expensive party items when you could hit up your neighborhood 99 cent store to buy many of the same items? Besides, the kids are probably going to destroy the stuff anyway. Use the money you save to pay a baby-sitter while you go have a spa day. Thank me later. 
3. Order Food
You could spend valuable time at the grocery store searching for ingredients, meal prepping, storing food, warming it up, and serving the meal you prepared with tender, love and care. Or, you can save yourself a massive headache and order food for the party. Low cost options like catering from Chipotle or an order from the local pizzeria will help you keep your sanity and the kids probably won't even notice the difference. For Nyah's 3rd birthday, I ordered pizza, had small bags of chips, juice boxes and had a friend grill hot dogs. Easy peasy. 
4. Use Music-Streaming Options For Your Playlist
I love Pandora and keep their "Yo Gabba Gabba" playlist on repeat when my daughter is ready for her toddler turn-up. No need to spend money on music downloads and CDs when you can stream music for free. If the ads annoy you, then pay to upgrade - you will still spend less than you would purchasing music and you'll save time by not worrying about creating playlists. 
5. Forgive and Forget
People will RSVP and then cancel at the last minute. It happens. Don't stress or plot revenge on those parents. Resist the urge to entertain thoughts like: just wait until her kid's birthday, I am so paying her back (scowls). Do the world a favor and chillax. Forgive, forget and move on. Keeping a glass of vino nearby (out of reach of the kiddos, of course) also helps. Cheers mamas! 
In conclusion, it was a rough week but I delivered for my professional clients, and I delivered for Nyah, my most important client. Balance is tough, especially as a single mama, but it is possible. With resources and support, I believe anything is possible.
Check out some of my favorite shots from the party! 
Al