My Parental Pact for Making Every Mother's Life Easier

Rant 18

I was in the craft store last week, pacing back and forth in front of the Valentine's Day displays and trying to make a decision. Was I going to help my kids produce a selection of lovingly hand-crafted Valentine's cards for their classmates, something perhaps inspired by a clever Pinterest design and featuring a custom font based on their actual handwriting? Or was I going to say fuck it, and buy the crappy pre-made pack of Spider-Man cards?

The thing is, my kids don't care what kind of valentines they hand out. It's my theory that valentines, much like birthday invitations and party decorations and cake designs, are less about the kids—and more about impressing the other parents.

You know what would have made the whole valentine card decision a lot easier? A parental pact, that's what. A legally binding agreement between all interested mothers that levels the playing field. WHO'S WITH ME?

Here's a few things I'd love for us all to agree on:



Should the playdate be held at my house, I will preemptively tidy my house only to the degree that you will not feel called upon to wear a biohazard suit upon entering the premises, nor will you find it necessary to dip your child in bleach afterwards. Said tidying will not include polishing furniture, applying floor wax, or hurriedly baking a tray of blueberry muffins for the sole purpose of making the house smell like blueberry muffins.

Should the playdate be held at your house, you will do the same favor for me. Should you wish to go above and beyond the definitions of this Agreement, you will leave the dishes unwashed and allow there to be a host of LEGO or LEGO-type materials strewn upon the carpet.


I promise to pin craft projects on Pinterest for entertainment purposes only. Under no circumstances will I actually attempt any of these activities, nor will I offer them as gifts in lieu of store-bought items, nor will I distribute them to all of the children in my child's classroom.

If you are capable of producing delicious marzipan concoctions that resemble Star Wars characters, adorable DIY infant mobiles assembled from paint chip samples, or homemade cards that include pop-up figurines that sing and dance, you will refrain from performing these supernatural feats in my presence, and will in fact humorously downplay your abilities while surreptitiously hurrying me past your dedicated gift wrapping room.


It will be mutually understood that party invitations should not be stamped into slabs of artisan chocolate nor should they be hand-sewn onto paper impregnated with wildflower seeds. The actual party decor should include at least one piece of garish cartoon merchandise insisted upon by the child, and color themes should not extend to the hostess's earrings and the soaps in the guest bathroom.

We will agree, once and for all, whether "No gifts, please" really DOES mean "No gifts, please," or if that's some kind of bullshit code for "Of COURSE bring gifts, this is a child's birthday party, are you some kind of

Lastly—and the undersigned realizes this may be a controversial item—we hereby agree to abolish the obnoxious tradition of party favors.


I will not do these. You will not do these. We shall formally agree that a soggy PB&J in a reused baggie is a perfectly fine lunch, scurvy be damned.


Would you sign up for these? What would you add?

(PS: I totally bought the Spider-Man cards. They were, unsurprisingly, the most unthoughtful piece of low-quality merchandising ever. Also, my kids think they're awesome.)

Image via Flickr/erikbenson

kid activities, kindergarten, school lunch


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femal... femaleMIKE

i remember caring about the cake and decorations.  I remember my sixth birthday.  My sisters picked out my outfit and I loved it.  My mother picked out mickey mouse hats and mickey mourse cake.  I cared about it. :)

most kids i know do pick out the partys theme and do seem to like it. I think parents do it to see the look of happiness on their kids faces. ...not everyone is about "keeping up with the jones"

nonmember avatar Therese

Absolutely love it! I would also add something about clothing and agreeing that allowing our children to dress themselves (and therefore resembling hobos) is okay and will not cause judgement on the parent.

PonyC... PonyChaser

Love this. I would, absolutely, sign it, even though I'm guilty of occasionally making the detailed cookies for my son's class, throwing a way-cool birthday party, and making all of his birthday cakes from scratch... with fondant. The difference is, I don't expect it from other parents, I do it because I enjoy it. I hate those "party favor" bags, though. They are the *worst* part of kids' birthday parties.

And my son was thrilled with his Lego Star Wars valentines.

Mama2... Mama2MonkeyBoys

We did Power Rangers valentines. Where do I sign?

Allis... AllisonWD

for the love of all things holy, can we please never EVER make party favors again? 

Momma... MommaGreenhalge

I promise to only do things for my own amusement and enjoyment, and not to impress or show up other moms.  That's about as much as I can give you.  I really seriously enjoy gift wrapping and crafty projects like that.  And I want to bake and decorate elaborate cakes for my kids' parties.  But it's not to make you feel bad.  It's because I like it. 

I do not, however, like cleaning.  I will clean to my own standards and not the standards of my insanely obsessive compulsive mother.  So there might be a few specks of dust here or there, or an unwashed dish in the sink when you show up.  Heck, I might even choose to ignore the scuff mark on the floor.  Does that work?

Melis... Melissa042807

This is so totally going to be me in a few years. My house is never spotless and I can't craft worth crap. But I can make what all my dinner guests have proclaimed to be the best lasagna ever (and it isn't even my recipe - I jacked it off a blog!) and I'm good with that. Fancy Valentines be darned. My kids are getting the cheesy cartoon ones when the time comes. 

nonmember avatar Cara

When I invite you to a birthday party, "no gifts" means 'please, for the love of all you hold dear, please do not bring my incredibly privileged child more stuff that she will ignore and I will have to find a place for in our small home.'. I expected her grandparents to ignore that, but everybody else did, too. I would really have preferred they didn't.

nonmember avatar Tonya

Love, love, love it!!!! Sign me up! I've actually evolved to where I am now. Because I realized the kids totally don't give a crap! Our valentines? Fun Dip and Laffy Taffy. And my kids were more thrilled to be taking them than the handmade ones we used to do years ago. And if we get one of these obnoxious valentines that incorporates a picture of the kid giving it? It'll be trashed. Nobody wants a picture of your kid except Grandma.

jaxmadre jaxmadre

I never thought about the parents when picking out my son's V-day cards. In fact, I did SUCH a *great* job yesterday... I was paying *SO* much attention, I bought what I thought was a package of blow pop valentines day cards. This morning, when we had no time to correct any possible errors, we broke open the box and found... only blowpops. No cards. OOPS! Oh well. The cards just end up in the trash anyway. The cards just give you credit for the cool pencil/lollipop/tattoo it's attached to. Little man just isn't going to get the credit. No biggie.

I also don't have playdates. Never have. I have never met a kid (besides mine) who cares about the state of my house (not that theres ever a problem). I dont make his lunches. The school does. And he LOVES school lunch. He sings the lunch ladies praises and personally compliments them all the time. I don't do crafts. And party decorations come from the creative people of WalMart or the E-Party store (or whatever its called). I don't sweat it.

I won't judge you as a parent, don't judge me.

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