The Extra-ordinary Days
Extra-ordinary Days? The ordinary everyday that are extra special to you - this week was my sons 11th birthday and this is how I aimed to make him feel special!
We have a set budget for gifts and as much as I would love to lavish gifts upon my children (because I want to give them good things that they want) we can't. We sit down with the birthday child and ask them what they would like - this child's gift of choice was a pet fish. Over the summer holidays we went to the library and he researched what it takes to look after fish and to set up a tank. We felt he was responsible enough to own his own pet so this is what we spent the budget (£50) on. We also use some of our clothing budget to get them a special top/pj's etc and we also use money from our monthly spending pot to get them some sweets/chocolate. I thought I would write how much we spent as I'd be curious. It can be a taboo subject but I think everyone is free to budget and prioritise their spending the way that works best for them. We have 4 children and we spend the same on them for gifts each year.
After the birthday child has chosen his gift, we then allow him to choose the meals for the day. He choose a triple chocolate breakfast cereal, packed lunch for school and for dinner we were using our Prezzo Tesco vouchers for a meal out. In his packed lunch I gave him little extras that he wouldn't normally have and I put a Happy Birthday note in. He choose what birthday cake he would like and this year he choose a rainbow crepe cake interlaced with nutella! Personally not my cup of tea, and a bit fiddly but I enjoy making things special for my son. I love seeing his face when his choice creation is put before him!
I enjoy celebrations so the children get to choose how they want to celebrate their birthdays. When they were younger they often had parties. Last year I spent ages chasing up invites to his party and then had no shows on the day - it was irritating as I wanted to spend the money on him having a good time with his friends (which is what he wanted) rather than empty seats at an organised event. It would be different if the party was at home or in a hall where everyone is invited but when your child requests a laser run or Pizza Express party, it is paid for per child. He is not an unpopular child, I don't understand why parents do not RSVP to parties they know would be pay per child. I would feel awful if an invited child turned up but then had to be turned away as I did not reserve a place due his parents not replying. When he was younger I knew the parents of his friends personally but as they get older and make their own friends, you don't know the parents. School is a wider group of people and some parents don't walk their child into school (as they work or as they reach later primary they can walk on their own). There is not a way to contact the parents. Perhaps it depends on the culture of the town/school but this year I didn't want to do that again. As his birthday is the beginning of September, I would have to organise the activity before the summer holidays and complete all the chasing, which isn't easy as some people are not sure of their plans that far in advance. Anyway enough of my rant, he chose an activity of his choice and we went to Winchester Science Centre. We have been here a couple of times before and he loves all things science and maths.
He didn't want his older teenage brothers to come, which we agreed to, as they would have spent the whole day moaning or asking when they could go home. They have been before with us but now they are older it doesn't appeal to them. This meant we were able to give him and his younger brother our complete attention for the day. We all went to the family meal as this was us celebrating together.
Winchester Science Centre Review
At Winchester Science Centre, they have over 100 hands on exhibits to keep us busy as well as a space explorer centre. We also signed them up to the CSI stolen telescope workshop and watched a planetarium show on Cells. It was exhausting but he loved it.
During the workshop he got to check hair samples, foot prints, dust for finger prints and test for DNA. They had a sheet to complete and he found the culprit. They also had an activity station where he made his own DNA coded bracelet of a fish. He learned about the pairing of cells, genes and DNA structure. The activity assistant had a science degree and was very knowledgeable, she was great at answering his questions.
The Explorer: Space activity was new and the boys really enjoyed these activities. It was in the dark but there were lots of buttons, levers textures to pull and push. They could control their own Mars Rover using the controls and I liked the mini aquarium that they would use in space.
There is a reasonably price cafe serving hot and cold food. We brought a packed lunch but we did stop here for a tea break. Being gluten and dairy free I was unsure what to expect but thankfully it stocked gluten and dairy free prepackaged cakes and they offered sachets of soya milk as an alternative to dairy. The coffee machine had no options for making dairy free lattes/coffees but being British, a cup of tea is perfect.
We booked online and the total cost for the 4 of us, including planetarium was £44. It was easy to book online and we could add on the workshops and planetarium with no fuss. On the day, we were running late, so we called and moved the booking slot of the workshop with no problems at all. I like things that are easy and fuss free.
We also had to pay parking - which looked like it was run by the council - which we weren't expecting, as the parking used to be free. We arrived at 11.20am and left at 4pm. It was a good day out and the birthday boy was falling asleep in the car on the way home.
We have always celebrated birthdays by giving of gifts, choosing the food & cake and a celebration activity. It has become our family tradition. The celebration activity normally comes from our monthly spending budget (unless they want an expensive birthday activity and then it becomes part of their gift). In terms of budgeting for the activity we are flexible, sometimes they want a more expensive activity and sometimes they don't, so it evens out throughout the years. We do not insist on each child spending x as some will want under and some will want over. We focus on blessing that child instead. As long as it fits within our monthly budget then it works. We each pray thanks for the birthday child on their birthday as a family too. It is good to list the qualities they have and for them to hear it from each other. The brothers make cards for one another too. We look forward to celebrating each others birthdays.
What are your birthday traditions?