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More Than Presents: Making Birthdays Extra Special

I was a “Pinterest Mom” before Pinterest was really a thing. I loved spending hours decorating the house for birthday mornings, creating the perfect birthday party for my kids, and even cake decorating!  

Fondant Birthday Cake

Somewhere along the way, I got tired of it all. The hours of party prep and hundreds of dollars in supplies just didn’t seem worth it for children who couldn’t possibly appreciate how much work went into a party. I forgot that my efforts weren’t about me – they were about making the birthday child feel special. I scaled way back, and while birthdays were still fun and (I hope) special, things were a lot more sane.

This year, my daughter turned 13. It’s a big birthday, and because she’s really been struggling lately, I decided it was time to stop phoning it in and go all out for her birthday – not in a Pinterest way, but by putting my best efforts into making her feel extra-special. I knew what she needed most, and what I think our kids always need most on their birthdays – to feel loved.

So, I asked everyone she ever knew to show her that love.

I jumped on Facebook (my preferred way of staying in touch with people), shared the reason for my request, and asked a simple question: “If you know [my daughter] or knew her at some point in our paths crossing, I’d love it if you’d leave a comment with something you like, remember or appreciate about her!”

The outpouring of love and support truly amazed me! Over 40 of her friends and family posted kind words and memories of my daughter. I even heard from past teachers, leaders, and even parents of her friends. You truly don’t know how many people you have an impact on until you see it laid out in front of you like this.  

I copied each comment onto a heart, and attached each heart to my daughter’s door as she slept the night before her birthday.

The smile on her face the next morning made it worth all the work. She loved reading people’s memories of her, and for that day at least, her “bucket” was filled with love.  

Here are some other ways you can fill your child’s “bucket” with love on their birthday:

  1. Write a birthday message on the bathroom mirror with dry erase markers.
  2. Make her favorite breakfast.
  3. Put a love note in his lunch, or…
  4. Bring lunch to his/her school, or sign your child out and take him to lunch.
  5. Let her pick a favorite activity for the two of you to do together.
  6. Take the time to write a heartfelt message in the birthday card.
  7. Put a “Honk for Susan’s Birthday!” message on your car with window markers, and watch her smile everytime someone honks.
  8. Retell his/her birth story.  Recall how you felt when you first held her in your arms.
  9. Have siblings do the birthday child’s chores for the day.  
  10. Everyone share your favorite thing about the birthday kid at dinner.
  11. Tell him you love him, and that you are so glad you get to be his mom.

Most of these take very little time, but any effort you put in will be worth it to see the smiles dance across your child’s face.  I can’t wait until the next birthday so I can come up with something special just for my son.  

What kinds of things have you done to show your children love on their birthdays?

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