Just about six weeks ago, Luke celebrated his eighth birthday. He counted down for weeks before and wished and hoped and planned for all of the things he wanted to do to celebrate his big day. Here’s the thing though – I had to be out of town for a work commitment and he was devastated about it. When it first really clicked that I wouldn’t be there with him on his actual birthday, we both cried big ugly tears of sadness. Knowing that I couldn’t change the circumstances, I decided to make his day as awesome as possible through a variety of surprises for him and because this may happen to some of you, I thought I’d share how to make your child’s birthday special when you can’t be there.
Get some help.
None of what I planned for Luke would have happened had I not had the support of my husband, friends, and his teacher. Start asking around a few weeks prior to see who will be willing to help out so that you can plan accordingly.
Tag a long.
I knew I wanted a physical and tangible thing that Luke could hold on to throughout the day to represent me being there with him. I printed out a favorite 4×6 photo of the two of us and matted it on sturdy card stock. I wrote a sweet message to him on the back explaining the purpose of the photo and left it for him with a small gift at his place at our kitchen table so he found it when he went to eat breakfast.
Put it in writing.
I picked up a few inexpensive birthday cards for Luke to receive throughout the day and wrote meaningful messages to him. Though I wasn’t able to physically be there with him, I was able to tell him everything that I felt for him and make him feel just as loved as if I had been there.
I had a card for him at school when he arrived, at home when he returned from school, and one at bed time. Each one said something different and similar to what I would have said at that specific time of the day.
I contacted Luke’s teacher a week before his birthday to see if she’d be willing to team up with me to make the day of surprises happen. Thankfully she was completely willing because it required no work on her part and created no distractions during the school day. If you’re going to check with your kiddo’s teacher about being on board, please make sure that you keep it super easy for them!
I literally teared up again when I received these pictures from Luke’s teacher. It made my day!
Luke is an eight year old boy and has food on the brain about 97.6% of the time. One of the most important parts of his big day for him was the treat that he got to bring to school to share with his classmates. Donuts are all the rage right now at his school and he was so upset thinking that he wasn’t going to get the donuts because I was gone. Thankfully, I had an amazing friend that offered to pick up the donuts and drop them off at school for him.
Because someone was taking time out of their busy day to do this for Luke and I, I made sure that everything was as simple and streamlined as possible. I ordered the donuts a few days prior so that they’d be ready to go at the specific time they were needed and I got a gift card to cover the full cost of the treat, plus a little extra just in case.
The final thing I did to make Luke’s birthday special was definitely a collaborative experience. I created a short video while I was gone with as many people as I could find wishing him a happy birthday and added my own sweet message to the end of it. I pieced them all together in iMovie on my phone and sent it to The Husband to show him the evening of his big day. While Luke didn’t quite understand why all of these people were wishing him Happy Birthday, he thought it was a pretty cool gesture.
All in all, Luke said he had a fantastic birthday and he *still* has that picture and the cards all of these weeks later. I must have done something right!
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