Celebrating Birthdays in a Time of Social Distancing

When our state started to shut things down, like most people, my husband and I started to think about what would be cancelled and what part of our lives would be changed. My husband stopped working, I adjusted to working from home, and our social lives were put on hold.

The event that was weighing on us the most was our daughter’s upcoming 4th birthday. We had already started talking to her about her party, asking her to choose her party theme. She’s old enough to remember her last birthday, so she knows that her family should be coming to her house to celebrate with her. Quickly, we stopped talking about her birthday party, hoping that it would be forgotten.

How could we make this a special day for her? How could we ensure that she still feels loved, even though her family and friends wouldn’t be able to celebrate with her? We wanted to make sure we did our best to help her still feel connected to the routines and special traditions that she’s come to associate with birthdays.

We used every decoration that we had in the house. The rooms where we spend most of our day all got special treatment – complete with “lots of balloons”, as requested by our daughter.

We put a “Honk for Emery’s 4th Birthday!” sign at the end of our driveway. We told Emery that the cars that honked was wishing her a happy birthday, and made a big deal of noticing the honks even when we were inside.

Family members came to visit – they were able to sing “Happy Birthday” to her in person! We talked with them from the porch while they stayed on the driveway. We’ve told Emery that people are getting sick, so she knew that she had to keep her distance.

Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins all joined in a ZOOM meeting to sing to Emery and watch as she blew out her candles. She was able to talk to them about her day, and show them the presents she had received (very important for a 4 year old).

From the moment she woke up, we made sure that the whole day was about her.

We think that the day was a success – Emery seemed to enjoy her special day, and never even asked about having a party. Hopefully next year, we can throw her a big 5th birthday bash!

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