By Emma Thomas – mum to a 2 year old, blogger and writer, with a background as a Kindy Teacher/Director
Today is our daughter’s second birthday! It’s hard to believe that she has been part of our lives for two whole years. While first birthdays are such a big milestone, I think birthday number two is more special as children understand what is happening.
There are some fantastic birthday traditions that I have seen families and groups celebrate over the years. Maggie Dent writes a lot about family ritual and making memories (https://www.maggiedent.com/blog/making-memories-matter/ and https://www.maggiedent.com/blog/how-to-create-family-rituals-why-they-matter/). Birthdays are a great time for this memory making to occur! When our children have the same experiences again and again, it builds up strong memories and feelings of connection. Strong family connections help children as they grow and develop.
If you think back to your childhood you can probably remember special things that your family did together to celebrate: sharing meals and giving presents are usually the big ones. There are lots of great ideas out there so I’ll share a few of them below. We have started some of these traditions and will do others in the future – but we aren’t making ourselves do everything!
Our daughter is getting two cakes this year! A simple chocolate cake which we made together yesterday for her birthday today. Then we are attempting the train cake from the Women’s Weekly Cake Book for her party! Choosing the cake is half the fun and if you can get your child involved in baking or decorating it is a great learning experience as well.
Special Meals or Activities
Once your child is old enough it’s nice to let them choose a special meal or activity for the day. We made pancakes for breakfast this morning and will go for a bike ride and have fish and chips at the park for dinner.
We are having a birthday party next weekend (a pool party, hooray for summer babies!). Try not to put too much pressure on your family when it comes to parties. Most children are happy with something quite simple, you don’t have to invite the whole class or hire out an indoor play centre (although these parties are fun!). Pick something that suits your child and that your family can easily afford and you will all be much happier.
Opening presents is such fun! As your child grows you will find out if they value one big present or lots of littles ones. My daughter is still at an age where she is getting lots of practical things wrapped up as presents as she simply enjoys opening them up!
Cards, Letters and Video Messages!
My daughter was delighted to open her Birthday cards this morning! She doesn’t receive much mail so this was a special treat. Instead of writing her a birthday card we have decided to write a letter to her in a special notebook each year so she will have a record of her birthdays.
She also received a number of video messages including her three year old cousin singing Happy Birthday and giggling a lot.
I know families who celebrate half birthdays! Six months after their child’s birthday they will mark the occasion with a cake and a small present. This can be particularly nice for children whose birthday falls in the Christmas/New Year period or at other busy times. Being a December baby I often wished for a mid year birthday!
Decorate the room
Some families go all out decorating their child’s room over night. They might fill the room with balloons, hang streamers or decorate the door. This sounds like great fun to wake up to!
We love you
This is one my family did growing up, when it was someone’s birthday we would go around the table, and everyone would take a turn sharing something they love about the birthday child.
Birthday Crown or Badge
Many of the early learning centres I have worked at have made beautiful birthday crowns for their children to wear on their special day. This is a special physical reminder of their birthday and something they can take home and treasure.
There are many wonderful children’s books about birthdays and birthday celebrations, these are just a few of my favourites that you might like to collect and read around your child’s birthday!
Happy Birthday to You! By Dr. Seuss
Spot’s Birthday Party, by Eric Hill
Hooray! There’s a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Having a Birthday Party, by Hazel Edwards
This is Actually My Party, by Lauren Child
My daughter loves singing Happy Birthday so it has been sung many times today – there is even a second verse that I only learnt recently.
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday dear (name)
Happy Birthday to you.
From good friends and true,
From old friends and new,
May good luck go with you,
And happiness too.
I’ve also come across this fun birthday cheer!
The Birthday Cheer
I don’t know but I’ve been told, Someone here is ____years old. Bad news is we sing off key! Good news is we sing for free! Happy (happy) Birthday (birthday) Happy Birthday! Happy Birthday! Happy Birthday!
I hope you have as much fun celebrating your children’s birthday as I have had today.