How to navigate a child’s birthday while co-parenting during COVID-19?
No matter how amicable your relationship with your former partner may be, co-parenting can be tough, requiring you to call on reserves of patience, cooperation, and creativity you never knew you possessed. But trying to do it in the time of COVID-19 is truly next-level parenting.
That’s never more apparent than on those red-letter days in your child’s life, those special days of celebration where the only thing your child should have to worry about is exactly how much fun they can pack into a single day. Birthdays, especially, are for so many of us the time when some of our fondest childhood memories are made.
And it should be no different for your kid. The good news is, you and your co-parent can still give your child a birthday to remember. Here are some ideas!
Depending on your family’s health and the amount of community spread in your area, it may not yet be entirely safe to go the traditional birthday party route, with hordes of kids packed into the house, eating and yelling and doing anything but social distancing.
But that doesn’t mean that your child has to celebrate alone. You’ll just need to get a bit creative.
One great way to make your little one feel special, and to give them a celebration unlike anything they’ve ever had before is to plan a birthday parade in their honor. In the days and weeks before the big day, send out invitations on social media, asking friends and relatives to participate. And if your kid has dreams of becoming a police officer or firefighter when they grow up, why not place a call to your local first responders? Who knows? They might just bring out their cop cars and firetrucks to make your baby’s birthday extra special!
And while you’re being creative, don’t forget to harness the power of technology! Put together a virtual birthday party on video conference but don’t just settle for an online get-together. After all, kids are pretty much used to that by now. Instead, up to your game by choosing a theme and then doing a bit of advanced prep.
Consider, for example, a “gross foods” theme, where tasty treats are made to look anything but, or a Princess Party, complete with tiara-shaped cookie cutters and glittery cake toppers. Reach out to your guests’ parents in the weeks before the party to see if they are willing to help their kids whip up these concoctions during the virtual birthday bash if you have the ingredients sent ahead of time.
Cooking, baking, and eating “together,” even by Zoom, can be tons of unexpected fun for your little one and her friends. If that’s not feasible, then consider having samplers of these unique treats sent to each guest’s house ahead of time.
And once your guests have loaded up on great snacks, then take the celebrations up a notch by hosting a virtual dance party or game night. Send inexpensive party favors to your virtual guests ahead of time to prep for these activities, and then make an event of the kids’ opening their gift packages together on Zoom!
Hosting a virtual birthday party when you’re co-parenting, though, is likely to be only one facet of the celebrations. As fun and memorable as the online festivities can be, there’s no denying that it’s not quite the same as the “real” thing. So until your child can physically be back with their friends again, you and your partner will need to take up the slack with some fun festivities of your own. That’s going to mean, though, working out a strategy for equal time in sharing in the birthday fun.
Even during COVID times, your child’s other parent is still legally entitled to their time. Custody and visitation arrangements are still legally in effect, unless extraordinary circumstances, such as a parent’s diagnosis, make the status quo demonstrably unsafe for your child.
Above all, though, mentally and emotionally, your child needs their other parent, especially on such a special day. And the last thing your birthday baby needs is either to be missing their parent on their birthday or to see their parents arguing over birthday arrangements, which they may well blame themselves for. So, as always, it’s imperative to put your little one’s best interests at the forefront and negotiate a plan for your little one to celebrate with their other parent, whether that’s a special day of fun the weekend prior or a special overnight stayover even when it’s not the other parent’s traditional time to have custody.
Pandemic living has been difficult for everyone. But that doesn’t mean that COVID should infringe on your child’s special day. It is possible to give your child a birthday to remember, even if you’re co-parenting in the time of coronavirus. It just takes a little creativity and a lot of commitment.