When I first thought of my children having their birthdays during lockdown, my initial feelings were of sadness. Those feeling were unfounded though, as they both had a special day – the most relaxing of birthdays we have ever had.
In the past, there was always the pressure of what to do on your child’s birthday to make it the best day ever – from a bouncy castle party to a day out at a theme park. The stress of organising a party. With all that taken away, we were left with enjoying a birthday in the most simplest of ways – our own little family, presents and cards, balloons, party hats, a cake, blowing the candles with family on video chat, messages from friends on social media, movies and a bedtime disco. That’s all they needed.
Lockdown Birthday in May 2020
My son had his 8th birthday in early May, when lockdown was still quite strict. People were only allowed out for daily exercise back then, not even picnics were allowed.
My generous family had sent their presents and cards in the previous weeks via online shopping – I just had to wrap them up, alongside our own presents for him. It was all train-themed at his request and he was very happy opening them all first thing in the morning. Which of course meant a morning of playing with new toys in their pyjamas.
Meanwhile, I had made a chocolate cake earlier in the week – a difficult feat as there was a shortage of flour and eggs and absolutely no cocoa powder anywhere. I used melted Bourneville chocolate bars in the batter and that worked a treat. Although the cake sank in the middle -but I turned it over and it looked okay. On the actual birthday, I set to icing the cake with a bus design that Tyler asked for. I think I did alright, making a nice design and considering there were only pastel colours of icing pens left at the supermarket. What’s that saying… ‘Make Do and Mend’? Or in this case, “Make Do With Whatever You Can Get”.
We had a videochat virtual party with the extended family and they sang Happy Birthday amusingly out-of-time (because of time delays through the internet!)
Afterwards we took the kids to Herschel Park for our ‘daily exercise’. To make it fun, I printed out the Tree-mendous Tree Trail for them to do. Surprisingly they found it really exciting, finding the trees and getting me to read out facts about them.
After the walk, it was dinner time and we thought we’d try the KFC drive through (McDs was still closed in May) – but when we got there, there was an hour’s wait. So G got some oven food from Sainsburys and we went home. After watching a kids movie with dinner, Tyler’s aunty in Canada facetimed to say Happy Birthday and he was so happy. We ended the day with a bedtime disco, playing their favourite songs with light-up balloons being flung about the room. That was so much fun.
When asked about his favourite part of the day, Tyler said going on the tree trail was the best. A simple, free activity. Who would have guessed that?!
Lockdown Birthday in June 2020
My daughter turned four at the end of June, when lockdown had been eased. We could have had a party in Nana’s garden but I decided for fairness to keep her celebrations similar to her brother’s. It didn’t feel right for her to have a bigger celebration. So, it in similar way, I blew up balloons and wrapped up presents that the family had sent through the post, as well as our own presents. It was all Frozen/Disney Princess themed, as lockdown has turned this little girl into a big Disney fan – we owe it to my brother for kindly giving us access to his Disney+ account!
She was unbelievably happy with her presents, which included Frozen dress-up. Here she is as Anna with her new princess dolls.
We went for a ready-made cake this time, as I could not go through the palava of making a cake again. Also we were in a heatwave earlier in the week; far to hot to be baking. The family videochat virtual party took place in the afternoon. Lily absolutely enjoyed being the centre of attention, and she changed into her Elsa outfit for it. Here she is blowing out her candles.
It was raining that day so we stayed indoors. Lily was busy playing with her new toys anyway. She chose to put on Cars 2 as the birthday movie, and then fell asleep on the floor of the living room! We woke her at dinner time, and treated her to a drive-thru McDonalds. Happy Meals are the lockdown birthday treat for all children at the moment, don’t you think?! And she was happy that it was still Trolls toys that came with them.
After dinner we had a bedtime disco with light-up balloons, playing Disney movie songs from Moana to Frozen to Aladdin. The kids finally fell asleep at 10.30pm. A good, long birthday!
So that was how we celebrated two birthdays in lockdown. And you know what, they were both memorable. Although we could not physically see friends and family, the messages through social media, videochats and text messages made my children feel so loved.
Have you had a birthday to celebrate in lockdown? What did you do that was different to a birthday pre-lockdown?