Today I turn 40. For the past nine years, I have to admit, birthdays have been a bit anti-climactic. Let’s face it, our young adult years are filled with a barrage of milestone birthdays: 16, 18, 21, 25 (though I’m still not sure why), 29 and of course, the big 3-0. But after we get into our thirties, things seem to slow down a bit. As moms, our attention shifts towards parties with more of a princess or pirate theme rather than 80’s big hair or 90’s grunge. In fact, I’m ashamed to say over recent years, I haven’t even been able to articulate exactly what I wanted to do for my own birthday. After all, it’s not like we can show up at Chuck E. Cheese and kick the kids out of the arcade (trust me, I’ve tried…).
But seriously, have you ever given much thought to helping your kids take an active part in celebrating the birthdays of the adults in their lives that they love? What they lack in finances and the ability to transport themselves, they more than make up for in creativity, enthusiasm, and energy. And while we may scour Pinterest and the Target clearance bins in an effort to make our own kids’ birthdays the next buzz on Facebook, you just might be surprised at the ideas your kids come up with when it comes to celebrating your special day. For my husband’s birthday last month, my kids opted for an unreal amount of streamers and balloons to be interwoven from our bed into the kitchen, leading daddy to the homemade cards they made him and personal fan they picked out at Walmart. Was it lavish? No. Was it even symmetrical in design? Not even close. Was it cherished and still talked about? Definitely. Ironically, my husband is out of town for work on my big day this year. So, even though it’s too early to tell all that this particular birthday holds in store for me, I’m hoping my kids bottle up that same creativity and allow it to pour out again in all its splendor. If you’re looking for ways to encourage your kids to take an active part in celebrating mommy and daddy’s birthday, check out these five simple tips:
1. Make something homemade. You may even come up with something similar that they can make each year, creating a fun memory you can look back on and compare from year to year once they’re grown. (Just don’t forget to have your kids sign and date whatever they make).
2. Pick a treat. While it may not be much, kids can typically afford something from the checkout aisle at your local grocery or big box store. Sure, it may not have been what you would have picked out for yourself, but it’s hard to beat seeing the pride in your kids’ eyes when they use their own money to pick out and pay for a gift all by themselves.
3. Takeover a chore. Whether it’s an older child knocking something off your to-do list before you get around to doing it or a younger child taking the initiative to try something on their own for the first time, these acts of selflessness are often more precious to a parent than any gift they’d ever receive.
4. Speaking of selflessness… Remember when you were back in school and once a year, a student would have the opportunity to switch places with the principal for the day? Help your child step out of their own state of looking to be cared for and instead teach them how to be the one anticipating others’ needs. and perhaps most importantly…
5. Be, not do. Instead of focusing on what we do on our birthdays, it’s more important simply to be together. Make sure your kids understand that who they are as people is more important than what they do.
Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. ~ Psalm 127:3
Just as our children are to be our ultimate gift, so to must they realize that being a gift doesn’t mean the world revolves around them. So whenever it is you may be celebrating your birthday, start today by laying a foundation that will help your children celebrate you in your due time.