The Ministry of Lisa Copen

Lisa Copen, Founder of Rest Ministries which serves the chronically ill, shares about mothering, illness, ministry and more.

ARTICLE: When Mom is Ill – Planning Child’s Birthday Party


When Mom is Chronically Ill – Planning Your Child’s Birthday Party
By Lisa Copen

Every mom knows pulling off an exciting birthday party for your child is a main responsibility in your job description of “mother.” But what if your illness makes you want to bury your head under the covers instead of throw confetti? Here are 14 tips to help you have a party your child will love and you will remember with a smile.

So your child is having a birthday and you want it to be a moment he or she will never forget. You will be Super Mom, able to whip up one cake, twelve goodie bags and six games to entertain eight 5-year-olds. No problem, right? Yeah, right! If you live with a chronic illness this simple event can turn into one that will leave you on the couch for a week or more if you don’t plan ahead. Here are 14 tips to make sure that you, and your child,  have happy memories about the party!

[1] Plan six weeks in advance. It sounds silly but you’ll be able to order items online, and not have last minute stresses.

[2]Decide if you want to have it at your home or elsewhere. Having it somewhere else lets you relax about having a clean house, or cleaning up the mess afterwards. If you have it at your house, aim for the backyard.

[3] Don’t over plan. If your child is under five, the kids will likely just want to run around the backyard. Set out tents, big boxes, and large bubble wrap to stomp on. They can have free-play or create and obstacle course. A ten-dollar bubble machine is worth an hour of fun.

[4] Order goodie bag items online at discount party stores in advance. You’ll get more for your money and save your energy avoiding the stores looking for princess tiaras. There are some terrific packages too which saves time and money.

[5] Rest up the day before. Make a list of what needs done and who you can delegate it to. Acknowledge it won’t be perfect, something will get spilled, and someone may leave in tears. . . but that’s okay.

[6] Take care of you. Ask people to go tie up the balloons for you. Pamper yourself and go to bed early the night before. Remember to take your medications, and eat healthy meals and snacks throughout the day.

[7] Order a cake or have a friend make it. Or pick up a cake at your grocery store and personalize it with frosting yourself. Have someone else pick it up.

[8] Let someone else entertain. See if a fire truck will drive by and share a bit about safety. Girls love “spa parties” so invite a hairdresser. Have your spouse walk around with the video camera and “interview” the kids about their favorite part of the party. Allow yourself time to sit down and rest.

[9] Get help. Invite the parents of the children and make it a family affair. If you don’t have older children, recruit a few from the neighborhood to come organize games.

[10] Have simple crafts. Foam crafts, coloring sheets, chalk for the patio and “marshmallow fights” all create little mess.

[11] Serve simple food: veggie plates, chips and dips, etc. Don’t be embarrassed to ask other moms to bring a snack for everyone to share or order pizza in advance to be delivered at meal time. Have money in an envelope by the door.

[12] Open gifts after everyone leaves. Your child will enjoy it more and it will cut down on the length of the party. Remember to write down who gave what so your child can send thank you notes later.

[13] Have a definite ending time on the invitations and start handing out goodie bags at that time.

[14] Plan some recovery time. Regardless of how smoothly it goes, you will be exhausted. Have another family member entertain your children that evening or rent a family movie and crash on the couch.

Remember, your child’s parties will likely all blur together. He or she isn’t going to remember that you forgot the ice cream or that you ran out of games. This isn’t a competition with other mothers, even though we all want our kid to have the best party.

For more support in living with a chronic illness, visit Lisa Copen, founder and author, is also looking for mom experiences, feelings, doubts–whatever you want to share– for a chronic illness book for mothers. Send them to

1 Comment»

  Crystal Burchfield wrote @

What a timely article! Our daughter turns five tomorrow and has her party this Saturday. Unfortunately, I have been very ill this week with a flare and am praying for a supernatural strength that I KNOW only Jesus can provide!
Thank you for reminding me not to try to be “supermom” and to delegate. I don’t want to be so frazzled or exhausted that I can’t enjoy my daughter’s smile!

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