Five Ways To Make Your Child’s Birthday Awesome

It is August and we are hurtling towards birthday season in our house with it being just five weeks until the boy hits the big FOUR. I am busy making plans and have started buying a few small gifts; the party is booked and the main present is decided, if not ordered. Now is the time for thinking about the little details.  Parties and presents are great, but it is often the simple thoughts that evoke the biggest smiles.  With this in mind, here are my top five ways to make your child’s birthday extra special.

1) The birthday breakfast

Start the day as you mean to go on! I have always given my children a special birthday breakfast, starting with Miss J’s first birthday when she had a fairy cake with a candle on her breakfast table – it was eaten after the Weetabix, I hasten to add! Every year since, she has had a fried breakfast on the morning of her birthday and that has become our little tradition.  The boy, however, will not eat a cooked breakfast, so he is given a feast of all the foods he enjoys for his birthday breakfast.  I always include a candle somewhere!

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2) Balloons!

Balloons feature hugely in my plans when it comes to making birthdays special for my little people.  They each receive a special helium balloon every year, either in the shape of their new age or of their current favourite character (the boy had a big Thomas balloon last year).  I also fill their bedroom and the lounge with regular balloons and will be adding water balloons to their baths this year.  You can’t go wrong with the humble balloon; it never fails to raise a smile.

3) Send their birthday cards through the post

Miss J loves to receive post and so we always send her cards through the post (or even just drop them through the letterbox) for her to find on her birthday morning.  Inviting friends and family to do the same makes for a happy birthday child – how often do they receive so much post of their very own?

4) Create a milestone masterpiece

Digitally customise a recent photograph of your child by adding words detailing their current interests and a few quotes that have made you smile.  The children love to see these pictures and they provide a great reminder of days gone by.  Looking at the boy’s from last year, it is amazing how much he has changed!  Print them out to have around the house on the big day itself; you could even use them as unique party invitations or thank you notes.

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5) Get writing

This is one I have picked up from Daddy – leave birthday messages everywhere.  On chalkboards, on mirrors in lipstick, in their lunchbox, on their dinner plate in ketchup, on paving slabs; spell their name in cake and candles and find as many things as possible with their new age on… the only limit is your imagination!

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So there you have it – my top five ways to make a child’s birthday awesome.  Which little tricks have I missed?  How do you make your child’s birthday special?

Our Summer Bucket List – Hiding in the Woods, Hunting for Bugs and Feeding Ducks

We headed to Storrington today, the village in which I spent 21 years of my life. The children were giddy with excitement at the opportunity to spend time with Nanny Jan and Aunty Coco. They bounded through their front door and raced to find them, chattering away about finding Gruffalos and feeding ducks. The weather was great, with sunshine warming the air, when we set off to the woods, in search of Gruffalos, owls, foxes and snakes…

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We didn’t find a Gruffalo, but we were lucky enough to spot a baby snake, and a bird that the boy was adamant could be an owl. We didn’t have the heart to tell him otherwise!

During our walk through the deep dark woods, the children darted up steep steps, hopped over twigs and tree roots and climbed trees.  We found the remnants of an old windmill and the trunk of a chopped down tree, both of which Miss J was keen to climb.

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We walked through the woods from my parents’ house to the village centre where we bought picnic supplies before carrying on our way. We walked passed my old primary school, which Miss J found interesting, and reached the park in time for a late lunch. The children ate quickly, excited so they were by the prospect of a new playground to explore! Although we have visited this park before, it was a while ago and everything was like new in the eyes of our little ones.

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They enjoyed an hour-long play before we decided to move on as we still had so much to do. We crossed the road to the idyllic, tranquil pond full of ducks and fish and found something we had not expected to see – a bug hotel.  I love this idea, and Miss J did too. She found a ladybird and took it to the hotel then went off to feed the ducks.  Later, we walked back past the hotel and found the ladybird (we assume it was the same one) still there!  Miss J was thrilled, and we were able to reinforce that her act of kindness had really been just that as the bug was clearly enjoying its new surroundings.

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Feeding the ducks was something we all enjoyed.  It is not something we often have the chance to do as we tend to spend our time by the sea rather than beside ponds, so it was rather a novelty for the children.  Both are animal-mad and showed no trepidation when the ducks flocked over to gobble up the bread they threw.

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The boy was a little too enthusiastic at times, forgetting to break the slices of bread into pieces and causing a scuffle among the ducks as they strove to eat as much as they could. Fortunately, Aunty Coco stepped in to supervise.

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We finished our day out by taking the scenic route; a four-mile walk back to Nanny’s house. Once home, the children, far from being exhausted (unlike us adults!), ran straight into the garden and spend a further half an hour bouncing on the trampoline. I wish I had their energy!

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I wish every day could be like today.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Five Reasons Children Should Have Pets

Miss J is a keen animal lover and though, unfortunately, we are currently not able to have pets living with us, has had a number of pets in the past. Here are five reasons why I think children should have pets:

1) Owning a pet teaches children about the circle of life

2) Children with pets learn to care for other beings

3) Having a pet provides an opportunity to introduce children to chores and responsibility

4) Owning a cat or dog can reduce stress and promote well-being

5) Having pets can be a useful educational tool

With all this considered, I think pets are great for kids and look forward to a time when we can have one again. I like the idea of a little fish pond or vivarium, though the rest of the family would love a dog!

Published in collaboration with All Pond Solutions