How to Make Your Child’s day in the Simplest of Ways
Pinterest-inspired birthday themes have both excited and overwhelmed the best of parents since the site’s inception, but nothing can trump the simple gestures of quality time and kindness to make a child know he’s adored on his birthday. Here are some simple ways to celebrate the birthday boy or girl in your life.
Our sense of scent is one of the most powerful memory triggers available to us. It’s why a waft of spicy snickerdoodles in the oven can instantly transport us back to Grandma’s kitchen...or a whiff of smoke to childhood memories around a bonfire. Scent is processed in the olfactory bulb (your brain’s scent analyzing region) and resides next to the amygdala and hippocampus, the brain’s memory and emotion processor, so it’s no surprise that smells and memories are so powerfully connected.
Taking her cue from this truth, Kansas City mom Janis Hedstrom decided that, upon the birth of each of her three children, she would wear designated perfume or scented lotions on each of their birthdays. For those wishing to establish a similar tradition but starting later in the game, consider asking your children what their favorite scents are and recreating them within your home on each of their birthdays. You can do this by burning a scented candle, diffusing essential oil or baking a favorite food in the oven.
The giddy excitement a child has on his birthday morning usually can be met only by the excitement of waking up on Christmas Day. Becoming one year older is a big deal in the eyes of a child! Let him know it’s a day of rejoicing for the whole family by decorating his bedroom doorway with streamers and balloons the night before (make sure to encase the balloons in plastic so they fall on him when he opens the door!). He’ll be in for a treat walking out of his room first thing in the morning! Earlier in the week, gather the family together to write words of encouragement on sticky notes for the birthday child, such as “You tell the best jokes!” or “You are a fabulous big sister!” Disperse the notes throughout the house in places the birthday child will discover them while performing daily tasks like brushing teeth or cleaning the bedroom.
Let your birthday boy or girl feel like a king or queen for the day. Break out the fine china, make a paper crown and decorate the birthday child’s chair at the kitchen table. Divvy up the child’s daily chores amongst the family and offer to do them as a birthday gift. Provide a photo shoot for your child, with her favorite items as props. Create a delicious smoothie or punch together and name it after the birthday child. And if your child has school on her birthday, have flowers or balloons delivered to her and wrap every individual item in her lunch box (from the sandwich down to the juice box!) in festive birthday gift wrap.
Let the birthday child choose the menu for a celebratory dinner. It could mean hitting a favorite restaurant or simply whipping up the meal of choice at home. Just keep an open mind as to what the courses may include. As Olathe mom Dixie Robertson recently found out, it may make for some unusual combinations. “Our daughter who is turning 8 made the following request: asparagus soup, broccoli, radishes, lima beans and mashed potatoes,” she says. “I’m not sure her siblings will be thrilled, but at least there will be cake afterward!”
Birthday Memory Recap
One of my favorite baby shower presents I received was a keepsake box with custom stationery and the simple instruction to write a letter to my child every year on his birthday until he was 21. (For the 21 days leading up to his 21st birthday, the instructions say to give him a letter each day.) I’ve since done this with all my boys, chronicling how much they’ve grown (including their clothing and shoe size, as well as how tall they are), how they’ve matured (denoting marks of character I’ve noticed in them throughout the year), as well as my hopes and prayers for them in the coming year. This simple measure can be done with the intention of reserving the letters to give later in life, but they also make precious gifts to read aloud to your children only a few years down the line. Another fun way to document the life of your children is to record an annual birthday interview of them where you ask them some of their favorite things, such as foods, colors, school subjects and movies. With each birthday, break out the previous years’ footage and admire how much the birthday child in your family has grown and changed.
Perhaps the simplest measure has the most impact on a child. As a family, take a moment around the dinner table to share briefly what your favorite thing is about the birthday boy or girl, as well as how the child blesses the family. Be specific! “I love how you are so quick to help me clean around the house” or “You grace our home with beautiful music every time you practice the piano.” These are detailed ways you show what a valuable role the birthday child plays within family life.
Lauren Greenlee has executed approximately 17 birthday parties in her parenting career. She writes from her Olathe home.