We've moved the party online here at Stages! Since the Shelter-In-Place order went into effect a month ago, we have helped 17 families make their child's Birthday a little extra special this year though video messages, FaceTime calls, and Zoom Birthday Parties!
We are LOVING virtual Birthday Celebrations and wanted to share some of the things we've learned over the last few weeks for those of you who are planning an upcoming Birthday, social distancing style.
Don't Skip Your Child's Birthday
Of course, you can still have an in person party when all of this is over but the fact of the matter is, we don’t know how long social distancing will last and there is nothing wrong with throwing a virtual party in the meantime.
Even if your child is turning 1 and has no idea it’s their birthday, YOU have survived an entire year of parenthood and that deserves a parade so at the very least, throw your little one and yourselves a party!
Do Not Try To Make The Day Perfect
The quickest way to ruin a Birthday (or any day) is to obsess over the way it “should” be. You can plan the perfect day for your child and they will want no part of it. That’s ok. If you get your child 10 presents and they only want to unwrap 2 - AWESOME! Let them play and they can open the rest later.
The best days are ones where you have no expectations. Plans and ideas, YES. But expectations, no. Let yourself and your child off the hook and focus on enjoying what is instead of what’s supposed to be.
It’s OK For Your Child To Not Want To FaceTime
We’re going through this with my 3-year-old niece right now. She is so over interacting via screens that she lasts about 20 seconds before she wanders off. I know this can be frustrating, especially if you have loved ones who are going out of their way to call your child on their special day. Just be honest that your kid is burnt out and recommend these alternative ways to celebrate:
Ask loved ones to send quick video messages that you can play during meals or before bedtime so that your child can watch them when they are ready for screentime.
Ask loved ones to pick a special song for you child. You can compile a playlist and play it throughout the day on their Birthday and tell them who sent each special song!
Use Technology to Create Magic
Kids want magic right now. Kids NEED magic right now. And kids LOVE celebrating their Birthday or any major milestone (potty training, losing a tooth, making it through the day with out a tantrum...) with their favorite characters!
The highlight of my week was when a 7-year-old got off a Facetime call with Elsa and told her mom “I think that was the real Elsa”. Shout out to the Awesome Aunt who booked the call for her! You don't have to be a parent to create Birthday Magic for a child you love!
Throw a Zoom Party
Zoom parties are GREAT (and I’m not just saying that). Both kids and adults are loving the sense of community they provide and you should see the way a child’s face lights up when they see 2 screens full of people there to sing Happy Birthday to them.
HERE'S MY ADVICE FOR THROWING THE BEST ZOOM PARTY
Have an activity. Do not just hop on a Zoom Call with 30 people and expect things to go well, especially with kids. The best Zoom experiences with larger groups of people are ones where there is an activity everyone can participate in together. Whether that’s a performance from Stages or activities you’ve planned on your own, test me: have an activity!
Mute Everyone! Seriously - do it. People can unmute themselves when they want to say something but there is nothing worse than when someone’s side conversation or dinner prep is making so much noise you can’t hear the person talking.
Give your child time to warm-up. Some kids are overwhelmed by seeing everyone on the screen. They may need a few minutes to get used to everything. If they’re being shy and don’t want to talk or say hi, that’s ok.
Use a laptop or tablet and make sure everyone is in Gallery View. It’s so much more fun when you can see all of your friends at once! I also love streaming Zoom parties on the TV.
Invite Everyone! Even adults who don't have kids. Don’t expect them to sit through the activity portion of your child’s Birthday Party but they will 100% be on board with signing on to sing Happy Birthday! Schedule a time to sing and invite them to join the Zoom a few minutes before that.