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  • Leanne Ammon

Celebrating Birthdays at this Time

In the midst of new lockdown rules, it can prove quite disheartening to think about all the celebrations and events we are unable to share with our friends and family. But while some are really lamenting not being able to plan a big get together or weekend escape for milestone birthdays and anniversaries, there are quite a few of us that, if we’re being honest, are secretly grateful for the excuse to keep things small and simple.

My daughter celebrated her 2nd birthday during lockdown earlier this year. It was a shame that her nannies and grandads, auntie, uncle and cousin were not allowed to be there. We video called and took lots of photos that we shared; opening presents and cards, blowing out the candles, playing with all the gifts that had been chosen with so much thought. There were times in the day that I really resented not being allowed to share this special day with my family, my daughter’s family. And yet there was a surprising benefit to only having the three of us invited to the party.

Sometimes in this day and age of instant gratification, it is all too easy to want to shower our children with every toy or experience they desire, or we desire for them. It is, however, all too easy to forget that children, especially young children, can become over stimulated very quickly by the constant stream of doing. Of course parties are very exciting things for children. The music, the decorations, the food and cake, and not forgetting the presents, all add up to a really enjoyable and memorable experience. But does that mean a smaller, quiter affair won’t lead to the same result?

After all, big crowds and noise aren’t for everyone. The noise and the visual stimulus can be too much for some very small children and they don’t yet have the emotional toolkit to hand to express the need for some downtime, which inevitably leads to tantrums, tears or meltdowns. All of which we’d rather avoid if we possibly can on their birthday. A cosy family affair is probably all they want and definitely all they need when they are celebrating toddler or pre-school age birthdays.

The party we had for our daughter, with just the three of us in attendance, gave us the chance to really celebrate exactly how my daughter wanted to because there was no other timetable to follow except ours. We got up and opened a few presents. We let her marvel at and play with each one for as long as she wanted before presenting with another one. This meant she didn’t get overwhelmed with a frenzy of opening. She could just take her time and enjoy the process. We ate when it suited us, when it naturally slotted in to our day of playing with new toys and the balloons. And when it came to cake and candles, we video called our families so they could sing Happy Birthday and watch the birthday girl blow out the candles.

I can’t say I didn’t miss my family being there. I did. But at the same time the pressure was off to host and entertain. Instead, we simply spent the day doing exactly as we pleased, and building such lovely family memories that we will look back on in years to come.

We did say we would hold a second celebration when lockdown was over but we didn’t. But if it happens again next year, if we find ourselves in lockdown again for the birthday of someone special, I know it won’t be so bad. But I will make sure we hold that second celebration when rules ease.

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