Birthday expectations and real life aren’t always a good mix! There’s no day off of parenting. But if you want to add a little more fun to the big day try these fun activities to give your children the opportunity to show how much they care.
It was my birthday last week. Not a big one but still something to celebrate. We’re surrounded by visions of birthday balloons, cards, pampering and celebration but as we grow older more often than not it’s just an average day; routine responsibilities with a slice of cake if you’re lucky! Chances are we won’t even get a lie in; there are still lunches to be made, school buses to catch and jobs to get to. The effort that mums put into family birthdays often isn’t reciprocated. It’s not that we aren’t loved and appreciated, it’s just that if mom has been in charge of planning most of the yearly celebrations other family members aren’t quite sure where to start. Or at least that’s what I tell myself.
Here, my boys are still too young to plan a party or birthday celebration all by themselves. My husband is pretty good at gifts and he’s defiantly never totally forgotten but he works long hours and doesn’t have the time for much else. He wouldn’t have the first clue how to cook something special or even book a babysitter. I should probably spend as much time training him up as I do the children! My parents and other extended family live thousands of miles away. There really isn’t anyone else around to make a fuss of the occasion but a little indication from from me can change that.
In our house birthdays always involve a birthday tea with all of the recipient’s favorite things. You can read all about our Party of Four tradition and how to start your own here. I understand that no one wants to plan their own birthday, it feels unnatural and self defeating, but I don’t want to teach the boys that I am less worth celebrating than them or their dad. I want to set the bar high!
So this year, and last, I’ve been trying to give Big and Little Brother the chance to get involved in planning my birthday. I’ve been doing some of the things I would do with them for other people’s birthdays and adding a few extra responsibilities as they grow. I hope they might work to deliver you a bit of birthday magic too.
5 Ways To Help Your Children Celebrate Your Birthday!
1. Creative Card Giving
Little kids are often used to making cards for special occasions both in and out of school. They know a homemade card is something special. I set mine up with folded cardstock, a plie of fun picture and number stickers, pens and pencils and let them go to town. The five year age gap works to my advantage here because big brother can write inside them put them in an envelopes but even if you have to work with your younger children and pretend to close your eyes I’m sure they’ll be really proud to have made you something special for the big day. (Even if they are a bit loose with the concept of age!)
2. Get the Decorating Bug!
I’m not likely to go out and spend money on special themed decorations for myself but I have saved some of our more generic banners, left over balloon and streamers. After school this year I had them choose what they’d like to put up and had them help me get the dining room ready for birthday dinner. Learning to blow up and tie a balloon is quite a rite of passage! You could also have the children make some decorations if you have time.
3. It’s Not a Birthday Without Cake…
A single parent friend of mine taught me this one. Total genius! In the past I have helped the children bake me a cake but I don’t always feel like doing the clean up on that. So as of last year I started a new tradition. I gave Big Brother enough cash for a cake and drove him to our cake store of choice. I explained to him what size cake we needed as a family and explained that he could choose a cake that he though I would like. I took Little Brother a few aisles over where I could see the check outs and kept an eye on the proceedings. Big Brother did a great job of paying and having the cashier hide the cake in suitable bag – and then stashing it in the fridge when we got home.
He was so proud last year he obviously told his dad all about it. They then procured 40 candles for some of the best birthday hilarity we’ve had!
4. Dinner Delights
While recently I have been having my eight year old cook more, it is still me that does the dinner. However, it’s nice to spend some time talking to your children about what your favorite foods are. Maybe where you first tried the food and why it’s your favorite if it has a nice story behind it too. It’s good for them to think about what makes you happy and learn about your past. They could design a menu for the day, help with the shopping or preparation or at the very least lay the table!
5. Recording the Memories
Moms often seem to be the family photographer these days. Being a late comer to the selfie and not that keen on being in front of the camera I am too often noticeably absent from the family album. In fact, I don’t think I have any birthday pictures of me since we went to Venice for my 30th! Both my children, like most I imagine, love cameras and technology though and relish the chance to capture special moments. Our under used ipad (it tends to only come out for waiting room entertainment, flights and working the Lego Boost (UK) ) gave both boys a chance to fulfill an important role recording my birthday dinner and provided me with some treasured keep sakes … even if they are a bit blurry and crooked!
Having the family put in the effort for your birthday, even with a little of your help, is a great way to make ‘mom birthdays’ just as special as everyone else’s. I was sure to put a little bottle of something bubbly to one side for after the workers were in bed though. Just to make sure I got that little bit of r&r too. Cheer’s everyone!