It's my birthday today! Something that makes me VERY happy! Each family has their own birthday traditions and these traditions are one of the lasting memories of childhood, aren’t they? I love a good celebration of the birthday person and when it's me I'm not shy about letting people make a fuss of me. And I always think the happiness that comes from a birthday lingers on, with the decorations and enjoyment of the presents making everyone feel happier for more than the day itself. 

So today I thought I'd write about birthdays and our family traditions for them.

General traditions

The night before a birthday the last thing said to the birthday person is ‘Night night X year old’ and then the first thing said the next morning is ‘Happy birthday Y year old!’, a little bit of silliness but my family have done this since we were young children and my mum still phones the night before my birthday and ends the call with ‘Night night 31 year old!’ and it makes me smile every year!

Children's birthdays

I am not a fan of big 'invite the whole class' type parties. In fact neither boy has had a friends round birthday party before. They're only little but I've plenty of friends who've had big 1st birthday parties for their kids so I know it's not uncommon! Anyway, for us birthdays are a special family day. The boys get some presents and cards over breakfast, and the one whose birthday it isn’t also gets a small gift to join in the celebrations. There are balloons, banners and a special trip out as a family. For four years running, Daniel’s birthday trip has been to an open farm near our house – Streamvale for those in the Belfast area – despite the fact we are regulars there, Daniel loves to know the trip is all about him and he gets an extra big ice cream when it’s his birthday! Rory loves animals too so we did the zoo for his birthday this year. Might try Dublin Zoo next year, maybe London Zoo some year?

I think it’s great to have a day when each member of the family feels extra special, valued and having their favourite foods, going to their favourite places and making memories.

Although I failed a bit at Rory’s first birthday as we took him to a lovely family pizza restaurant for pizza followed by icecream, only to have him diagnosed with a bad cows milk allergy a few days later... It was actually his awful reaction to this dairy heavy dinner than made us think he had an allergy rather than just being a pukey irritable baby! Oops! Not the birthday treat we had intended!

We also have decided to write letters to the boys for certain birthdays. This is where set annual traditions can become too much of a pressure so the original plan to do this annually was shelved when, about six months after Daniel’s second birthday we still hadn’t written to him. We then decided to do this at age one, five, ten, thirteen, sixteen, eighteen, but wouldn’t you know, Rory is 15 months and still no first birthday letters written for him. Ah, I guess this will just be an organic tradition and see how we feel each year. Though I’m guessing I better make sure I don’t ended up with letters for one child and none for the other…!

Then my husband spends about an hour playing a playlist on Spotify of all the happy birthday songs he could find with their name in it. For Daniel there are plenty (rock and roll style, country style), for Rory not so much. Now we just need to have a girl and name her Caoimhe. The Americans haven’t got a Spotify song for that!

you can tell this photo is a good while after the birthday itself, that helium balloon is looking very deflated!

you can tell this photo is a good while after the birthday itself, that helium balloon is looking very deflated!

My Birthday

Birthdays aren't just for the little ones. In fact for mums in particular it's nice to have a day where it is all about you and your identity as YOU, not as a mum (like on Mother's Day). I never worked on my birthday if I could help it, and make Colin take the day off even though I'm a grown woman! We eat out for as much of the day you can get away with and I make sure on my birthday zero housework is done (by me anyway!), otherwise the special day gets lost like any other in laundry and dishes. Eating out also ensures there are no dishes to do! Some years I go to a day spa for a massage. Others I meet friends for a coffee. Today it was our mums’ bible study so I went along to that after bacon butties in bed. I brought some dairy free cupcakes along and the girls surprised me with a cake and candles. My mum and dad still give me some birthday money and I love heading out on my birthday to spend it on something indulgent. This year I bought some washi tape (Japanese sticky tape with decoration on it) for my journaling and a denim dress and oversized jumper I definitely did not need, but you know, you only turn 32 once! Then it’s dinner out with wine and dessert. Husbands have to drive on your birthday. It’s the law.

I love cards too and my husband is great at buying four or five birthday cards for me every year. Today he ensured I got a card from the cat that snuck in to our house last week when we were out and left a pile of crap in our hall, which was promptly walked in and took a good half hour to scrub out of the wooden floor… it is a funny tradition I guess.

So, that’s me off to have a glass of wine and watch the Great British Bake Off. Bliss!

What family traditions do you have around birthdays? Do you make sure your birthday is as special as the kids’?