It Sucks That We Can't Throw My Son a Proper Birthday Party, but We're Celebrating Anyways

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has forced much of the country to practice social distancing, but just because we're living in these strange times doesn't mean I'm going to skip out on celebrating momentous occasions like birthdays and holidays! Simply not being able to have a big bash at the moment won't stop us from being able to joyfully commemorate upcoming special occasions. My children have birthdays three weeks apart, and we've brainstormed creative ways to connect with loved ones for their special days. I'm so grateful we live in an era where technology has given us an abundance of options to be able to connect with loved ones from a distance, and we're planning on fully utilizing everything in our arsenal.

We just celebrated a low-key, high-tech birthday party for my 12-year-old. The best part (and what made it super special) was the parade of friends who sporadically drove by our house throughout the day with a lot of honking, balloons, and confetti! It brought me so much joy to watch my son's face as he saw his friends after almost two months. I know for him, it was super meaningful that his friends made the time to come by and wish him well on his special day. We also did a bunch of Zoom calls with grandparents and cousins, which surprisingly felt more meaningful than in previous years (when family tends to get overlooked at huge birthday parties full of school friends running around). We ended the night with a curb-side pick-up from my son's favorite restaurant and though the day was not as action-packed as previous years, it still felt special and celebratory, thanks to a little help from technology.

For my 6-year old's birthday coming up in three weeks, we'll be getting more creative and sending out evites for a virtual birthday party via Zoom. I'll send out indoor scavenger hunt lists to parents in advance and on the day of the party, we'll let the kiddos run around their respective homes to find easy household items such as safety pins, salt, a screwdriver, etc. Then we'll all join in sing "Happy Birthday" on Zoom while my son cuts his homemade cake.

But that's not all! Once we've done a scavenger hunt and cake cutting, we'll gather outside on front porch and get ready for another birthday car parade. It was such a success for my older son that I know my younger son will appreciate it. The way we're setting it up, we'll have goodie bags for all of my son's friends that we'll distribute on the sidewalk just before each car rolls up, so they can stop to grab one while maintaining a 6-foot distance. This will be a great time for his grandparents to also drive-by and leave their birthday presents and blow kisses.

Look, I'm not saying it's ideal but given the global crisis we're all facing. But it has given me permission to lower my expectations and work with what I've got. Would my children have more fun if he could stand around in a crowded room with their giggling friends to celebrate? You bet, but that won't deter me from finding a creative way to still make the day memorable. Whether you decorate your front yard or have a FaceTime party, think outside the box and focus on what you can do right now instead of what you used to do. I promise, we'll look back at this time with fondness and appreciation for all the ways we pivoted — and our kids will honestly only recall what they see in photographs anyhow!