Weighing Kid’s Birthday Priorities

Any reader who knows me personally likely knows how much I HATE morning talk radio. So much talking. So early in the morning. Blah blah blah. Please be quiet!

Still, I did listen to Allan & Ashley of Warm 106.9 asking listeners if it was OK to miss their kids’ graduation and birthdays. Or at least that’s what the blurb said they were talking about. See:

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But I endured five minutes of their blathering and didn’t hear a peep about missing a kid’s birthday. GRRR.

Yet reading about my annoyances is not the reason you read this blog (or at least not the main reason). So, let’s get back on topic. Even if Allan & Ashley ignored it.

Is Missing A Kid’s Birthday OK?

I found a “happy place for smart women” site with an article addressing this very question. And the author really did talk about it…not just say they would.

The article’s author Mia Freedman admits that she did miss her two-year-old’s birthday for an important, long desired interview with a Prime Minister. But they celebrated the birthday the next day, when she returned, and her toddler didn’t much notice the difference.

It helps that the child was so young. Plus, I’m not going to say that someone should lose out on an amazing personal or professional opportunity because of a child’s birthday. Although they should think hard about it first…

But, turns out Freedman was writing in response to a comment by a UK social commentator named Katie Hopkins who said:

“I would rather earn money than be with my kids on their birthday…Why is this is so hard to understand? Work today. Enjoy tomorrow more.”

Gulp. There are too many ways I want to respond to Hopkins, and few of them are “happy.”

Hopkins’ comment caused a response that merited her time on a follow-up program in which she said:

“My children recognize that I’m on the road a lot, I have to work a lot….They understand we’re a team, we all have to work together and it only takes a few steps from special child to spoilt child and I like to think mine are simply special. If I miss the day – I haven’t forgotten the day – but if I miss the day we’ll make it up some other time.”

Make an effort is what I say

Yes, this sounds more reasonable. Still, suggesting I am spoiling my child by trying to accommodate his or her birthday gets under my skin. Obviously I would not put my kids’ birthday ahead of keeping my job and the livelihood that sustains said kid and my family.

Still, I prefer to think of prioritizing your kid’s birthday before a work engagement as telling your child they are special to you rather than spoiling them. After all, the birthday is pretty much the one day a year a child can hope to be spoiled and put first on the family priority list. Where do you stand on this issue?

 

Birthday Anxiety Around the World

birthdays

Foter.com

Birthday stress spans global borders apparently. In announcing its new Birthday on Demand service featuring character from kids’ shows singing Happy Birthday, Netflix shared many statistics too.

And loyal blog readers know I love a good birthday statistic! I’m still slowly but surely gathering data in my own birthday survey. Fill it out now — average time taken is 2 minutes!

In the meantime, I have to share Netflix’s findings based on 14,582 SurveyMonkey responses from June 26th-July 10th, 2017. The respondents were adults online who have a child 8 years or younger in the household in the United States, UK, Philippines, Singapore, India, South Korea, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Peru, Turkey, France, Germany, and Italy.

Turns out that no matter which country the parent is sweating party planning is the norm. Although less so in some countries than others:

  • 46% of French parents say birthday planning isn’t stressful, while parents in Peru and the Philippines feel most stressed about kids’ birthdays (77%).
  • Parents in Turkey (56%) and India (52%) felt the most social media heat around their kids’ birthday parties.
  • Meanwhile, 91% of parents in Mexico have hosted character-themed parties for their children.
  • While all parents were more interested in saving money than time when it came to party planning (54% vs. 42%), Italian parents were most interested in birthday money-saving measures (72%).
  • Brazilian parents on the other hand, go all out for birthdays, racking up an average bill of $620 (vs. a global average of $250).

I’m sad these are all the results the company shared from its study. Some of the countries surveyed aren’t even mentioned! If my birthday book is ever accepted for publication, I’ll be following up with them to see if they’ll share the full survey results with me.

In the meantime, hope this glimpse into the global birthday psyche has made you feel just a little bit better about the anxiety you might feel preparing for your birthday prince or princess’s big day.

 

 

Happy Third Birthday to this Blog!

Happy birthday to my blog! Happy birthday to me!

birthdays

Foter.com (no, that is not me in the picture. I would not be walking so gracefully in heels!)

Yep, it’s my birthday today. And, today marks the third birthday of the birthdaysarebest.com blog. Yippee.

I thought it would be fun to share some insights into the blog to date. For instance, I continue to be amazed at the global reach of my ramblings (rants?) on birthdays.

Just looking at September 2017, I had views from people in the U.S., Canada, the UK, India, Hong Kong SAR China, Indonesia, Australia, Netherlands, Mexico and China. But I’ve had people reading in Kuwait, Brazil, Philippines, India, Japan and other places too! That’s truly exciting!

My number of visitors has grown nearly 10 fold, too!

In 2014, the most viewed blog was this really short one on making a big deal about little ones’ birthdays. I don’t know if it wasn’t this cute pic of my kiddo that made it so appealing or not:

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In 2015, it was the one about different birthday traditions around the world. Complete with this creepy photo:

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2016’s top post was Who else remembers Paddy Whacks, with the ear yanking fun post coming in a close second. My blog on alternative birthday cake ideas from 2016 also did well, which makes me happy as I loved some of the options I found (although today, on my own birthday, I will no doubt be enjoying traditional chocolate cake).

Birthday cake

Photo credit: distopiandreamgirl / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

And this year, Paddy Whacks is far and away the leading blog for views. I doubt anyone has time to catch up with just three months left. But I was rewarded to see that my thoughts on making up for missing a birthday and the information I shared on your birth month impacting your personality were popular blogs too!

birthday blog

Image source

I’ll keep this in mind as I move forward into the next year of this blog. I am still pursuing publishers for the non-fiction birthday book I have started writing. But, in the meantime, I appreciate all of you readers for joining me on this blogging journey.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions for blog ideas! Let me know what you wonder about birthdays and I’ll see what I can find out.

Birthday Card as Time Capsule

The headline on a recent story had me thinking, “so what?” After all The Daily Times was reporting: “Mail Call: Friends swap birthday greeting back and forth for 20 years.” I was thinking, I have plenty of friends I have been wishing birthday greetings to for more than 20 years!

But I did read on, and I’m glad I did. It’s a fun thing Sherry Hillis and Patsy Lunde have done for decades. They’ve been sending the exam same Peanuts cartoon birthday card back and forth. The same one — for 20 years.

“Roses are red, cookies are chewy,” it says underneath her picture. On the inside, “A Year of Your Life has just gone Ka-Plooey! Happy Birthday!!”

But, what really makes the card special is the things they have written to each other over the years. Lunde even added pages to the card so that the two women could continue to catch up with one another every year.

Hallmark’s Loss

Lunde first picked out the card first for Hillis’s Sept. 1 birthday. Hillis turned around and sent it back to Lunde for her birthday just days later — Sept. 5.

That’s what they’ve been doing annually even as their careers took them in different directions — they started the tradition while both employed at the same hospital — and the children that they first met through (the girls swam together in school) grew up.

“Hallmark is losing money on us,” Lunde said.

I want to start this tradition with my friends right now! I love the idea of having an annual catch-up outside of the now obligatory Christmas card. The card that serves as an annual reminder also of what has come before and how much we friends continue to mean to each other.

Really, find someone you love, and start sharing a time line birthday greeting today. It will add even more to both of your special days.

A Killer Crossfit Birthday

Men’s Health recently ran a story: “This 78-year-old’s birthday workout will wreck you.” I was wrecked just by the idea of working out on my 78th birthday.

I am someone who enjoys taking it easy on my birthday. Maybe I’ll walk the dog to the park. Or, since I am really enjoying cardio kickboxing class right now, I might do that class — maybe. If it didn’t interfere with my plans for lunch or seeing a movie matinee!

Thus, I can’t fathom each year having a set workout that gets more difficult as I age (and not just because my muscles are getting older too). But that’s exactly what Jacinto Bonilla does. For him, “birthdays are definitely not a day off from the gym.” Well, he is the so-called “grandfather of Crossfit,” so that makes some sense, but check out his reps.

birthday workout

Image Source: Men’s Health

Birthday Workout

Beginning on his 69th birthday, Bonilla created a workout that pushes him to do the number of repetitions of the exercise coinciding with his age. Yes, you read that correctly, he started this tradition at 69! On July 3rd, 2017 he turned 78 and so he did:

  • 78 double unders with a jump rope
  • 78 squats,
  • 78 push-ups
  • 78 pull-ups
  • 78 wall ball shots
  • 78 kettlebell swings
  • 78 deadlifts with a 90-pound weight
  • another round of those double unders (yeah, I didn’t know what those were either — apparently you make two passes per jump instead of just one).

The workout — now known as the Jacinto Storm — has spread worldwide among Crossfitters. Bonilla told those working with him this July in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen: “If you keep it up, you’ll be fine at 78, too.”

Still, even if I wanted to be that fit, I think I might save the Storm for the day after my birthday.

6 Tips to Control Birthday Party Costs

birthdays on a budgetPhoto credit: Kid’s Birthday Parties via Foter.com/ CC BY

Birthdays are often an excuse for extravagance. Celebrities might spend $5,000 on a cake or buying an $187,000 playhouse for their six-year-old. Or maybe you know families that hire a yacht for their 10-year-old’s party or host 50 kids at Disneyland for the day — 50!

Yet there are those of us who want to try and keep the birthday spending on a tight budget. After all, it’s the thought that counts, right? Plus, paying off credit card debt or keeping up with the mortgage payments is probably more important than a big, blowout bash for a nine-year-old.

Pop that Birthday Budget Balloon

Here, then, are six strategies to help you keep birthday party costs under control:

Accept Assistance.

No, there is no federal assistance program for party planners. But, you likely have friends and family who would be willing to help:

  • Instead of paying $70 to a bakery, ask a friend to contribute a freshly baked cake.
  • Ask grandma and grandpa to suggest some old school games that will save you from paying for a roving arcade truck or a big bouncy house out back. Kids like to play, after all. Maybe offering them some options they haven’t encountered before will win points for novelty while also giving family members a chance to prove they’re still pretty awesome.
  • Invite young cousins and neighborhood friends to be crafty and draw or paint decorations for the party. It will look homemade, sure, but the birthday honoree will also feel the love of their family and friends whenever they look about them.

Party Outdoors.

If you’re looking at a warm weather birthday, you might host a movie night on screen in a backyard, a field day at a neighborhood park, or an obstacle course in the cul de sac (having warned the neighbors first). These options are more affordable and again will encourage creativity that can make your party distinct.

budget birthday

Photo credit: ND Strupler via Foter.com / CC BY

Think Strategically about Timing.

Planning a party over lunch or dinner might suggest you will be offering a meal. Inviting folks between 2 and 5 saves you from this expectation — snacks will likely do the trick.
If you are going to serve food, keep the menu simple and find a friend who can let you borrow their membership to a bulk store such as Costco or Sam’s Club.

Price Package Deals.

If celebrating the big day is happening at a party venue, shop around to see who offers the best deal. Sometimes a party sticker price seems more expensive than a competitor. But compare it line by line to see what’s included in each offer.

Plan Ahead.

By keeping an eye on sales you can often find party items at reduced costs. This is a good way to keep control of party decoration costs, paper supplies and plastic cutlery, and anything that goes in the loot bags (if you decide your guests can’t go without swag).

Go Digital.

Spending money on paper invitations and envelopes, plus postage (if necessary) is an unnecessary expense for the budget conscious. It’s easy to set up an electronic invitation online at a site such as Evite or Punchbowl.

Budget Birthdays Special Too

Of course, the easiest way to cut party costs is to cut out the party. But, if that simply isn’t going to fly with the birthday boy or girl you are feting, take another take and keep the guest list small.

Yes, I believe I everyone deserves a big day on their birthday — but that doesn’t mean anyone should have to break the bank to make it happen.

Sharing Birthdays at the Office

Birthdays are for celebrating with fun, flair, love and laughter. If I didn’t believe this, I probably wouldn’t have a blog devoted to birthdays.

Happily, I have some examples of people taking advantage of this special day to give their co-workers an extra helping of attention and affection. Loyal readers already know I am a big fan of feting people at work, if the individual decides to ignore my personal rule to not work on your birthday.

Office Birthday Fun

One recent blog post I saw featured a site devoted to discovering “a fresh approach to style through fun ideas for the wardrobe and home,” taking its own advice for an employee birthday.

Under the boasting headline, “We just took office birthdays to a whole new level,” the blogger talked about taking the weekly office meeting out of doors for a picnic at a table with fresh cut flowers and a breakfast taco spread. The coffee choices were also immensely important as the blog clearly has a product placement angle for an espresso machine…Nevertheless, the images are lovely, and the birthday celebrant probably enjoyed being made to feel extra special on her birthday.

office birthdays

Birthday Co-Worker Collusion

Those watching Good Morning Britain recently could actually see Kate Garraway having a good time on her birthday as her coworkers surprised her on the program’s set. The Sun reported her kids and her parents joined the host live on air for her 50th. Her co-workers also treated her to a plate of doughnuts, a present, and a highlight reel of her past career on television. This included some memories even the host groaned and grimaced over!

office birthday
Plus they offered the national show’s audience at home a glimpse of Garraway during her school days. This reminded me of the practice in several cultures of shaming the birthday person on their big day.

Related reading:

Employee Birthday Benefits

30 Today? Have a Pepper Person

Brace for a Birthday Flour Storm