Confession time: I’ve always resented people with birthdays during the school year.
My birthday is mid-June. As a kid, my family traveled to California by car from Orlando every summer (the story of which should be its own blog entry . . . or book) and we made lots of stops to see family along the way. I was so lucky in that the family and friends we would visit would generally throw a little birthday party for me, and I’d get lots of hugs and cake and treats and cousin time for my birthday.
That was great, but what kids REALLY crave is the adoration of their peers, right? You betcha. And that is exactly what you don’t get when your birthday takes place outside of the school year. No decorated locker for you. No balloons streaming triumphantly behind you as you strut the halls, colorfully proclaiming to the entire school, “YOU MAY NOT KNOW ME, BUT YOU DARN WELL KNOW THAT TODAY IS MY SPECIAL DAY!”
Yeah, us summer birthdays get none of that, and it’s rough. (Please note I do fully understand how bratty this sounds, and my family birthday parties are treasured memories, I promise.)
One of my girls has a summer birthday. After one particularly fun birthday party this past fall, (or perhaps she’d just consumed too much sugar) she began to breathlessly plan her own party while strapped into the back seat of my minivan. After hearing the list of people she wants to invite (her entire class plus some) I had to gently add that as her big day falls in early July, many of those people may not be in town. Perhaps we could pick a smaller group and go do one special outing? She looked confused. Why won’t they be in town? That’s when I realized that if you don’t explain summer break to a kindergartener, they don’t get what that is. Preschool runs year ‘round, after all. So I did. And she seemed to get it. But I’m sad to report that I think I saw the same sadness brewing in her eyes that I must have had all those years, that “I don’t get to have my special day with my school buddies and beloved teacher” look. Ugh.
Luckily, my daughter’s kindergarten teacher celebrated her students with summer birthdays during the last week of school. (I know may other elementary school teachers who do this as well—THANK YOU!) Though not on the actual “special day;” I know she really appreciated it.
So here are some ideas to make sure the summer birthday kid in your house or your life know that they are just as special and loved as the school year birthday crew.
We live in Florida, Land of Pools and Beaches, so having a water-centric party is pretty easy. When my girls were really little, we did their parties at the Spray Park at the Cypress Forest Park in Oldsmar, which is basically little kid heaven. You don’t have to be an Oldsmar resident to rent a pavilion, which at around $50 is a real bargain (and the bathrooms are clean!).
For party themes, a Day at the Beach, Surfing Safari or Sunning by the Pool is fun, but Mermaids, Pirates or Sea Monsters could also be fun themes!
FACT: water parks aren’t open in the winter. Take that, school year birthdays! A day at a water park with a few kids or a Midsummer’s Night Dream-themed fairy party would be a blast for your summer kiddos. An All American Kid party would also be fun for a birthday near the 4th of July!
- Acknowledge the summer birthdays via mail
Kid LOVE getting mail! Delight the summer birthday kid in your life with a card or letter. I have my kids hand-draw all their cards, as I think it is super cute for the recipients to see their artistic progression throughout the years. Bonus: it’s almost free. Postcards from a vacation destination are also inexpensive and wonderful, even if you wait until you are home to send them off.
- Have an un-birthday any time!
I have to admit, this is the only one I haven’t done yet, but I think this option would serve two purposes: first, your birthday kid would be celebrated with activities, friends, food, cake…the whole shebang. But my inner Southern Woman and Good Norwegian Girl have discussed this, and we all feel it may be a bit tacky to have a party in which the subtext is “it’s not really my birthday, but give me stuff anyway.” Remember all those relatives? I know my family hooks my girls UP for their birthdays; more is not really necessary. So an un-birthday can also be a lesson in service. Have the birthday child pick a charity and request donations for that group. Something helpful like canned food for a food pantry or pet supplies for an animal shelter would be perfect.
As I write this, it’s almost 8 and my girls are still sleeping. It’s a mom miracle! Well, not really. Blame all the summertime fun that wears them out. Even if you have to get your birthday child up early to go to day camp or a summer program, it doesn’t take much to make that wake up special. Fill the area around their bed with balloons or make a birthday door balloon surprise. Write a birthday greeting on the bathroom mirror in colorful dry erase markers. Set out a formal place setting complete with a flower in a bud vase at the breakfast table with some of these adorable pancakes. It may not be the same as a pack of shrieking teenagers at her locker, but she’ll look back and know she was just as loved.