Parenting is a blissful experience as much as it is demanding and tiring. While managing nappies and nannies, and simultaneously wondering whether to give up the job or hold on to it, the guilt of not being able to offer to the baby the splendour we received from our parents and grand-parents, losing our patience and composing us once again, hardly do we realise how time passes by. Even before we know, it is already a year and the baby’s first birthday is knocking at the door.
Some of us throw grand parties during the first birthday of our child; many others believe in not wasting money on parties since the baby will be too small to enjoy his own party. However, all of us would probably agree that the first birthday of our children is all about reminiscing on one full year when life changed drastically from what it was before. Also, it is about creating some memories for the day. The little one can grow up, revisit those memories and feel happy as she finds out how her parents and dear ones had celebrated her presence as she completed a year on earth.
I suggest, that on the baby’s first birthday and all other birthdays that follow, make it a ritual to offer a special prayer. Thank the forces of the universe for blessing the earth with another beautiful life. Pray for the baby’s health and well-being ritualistically at least on this special occasion, if the family doesn’t sit for it together every day. Do it even if you are an atheist. Let the child learn the cultures first and imbibe the positivity of prayers; once she is old enough for logic, she can make her own choice.
If you are planning a party for your child, do ensure that you have planned the location smartly. Either throw the party in the lawn or garden of the society, or finalise a spacious venue where the child would find enough free space to crawl or walk around. Often children grow grumpy when they see too many people around them, all running forth to cuddle them, on the first birthday. Kids get scared and claustrophobic, embarrassing their parents and making it difficult to manage. Usually in our nuclear set-up, they are used to find less people around. Hence, the venue of the party should be spacious enough so that the crowd doesn’t shock the kid too much.
Time the party such that the baby isn’t tired and has had a good nap just before hitting the hall. This will keep her fresh and in a good mood. As much as you wish to make her wear the most lavish dresses and shoes, please do ensure that those are comfortable for her. Often kids revolt violently when their elaborate clothes purchased by the parents with much love end up disturbing their skin or restrict their movements!
To ensure that the baby is well maintained and entertained throughout the party, prepare a well-planned guest list. It will be nice if most of the children who come in as invitees have no more than 3 or 4 years of age gap with your baby. Also, in the list of invitees if you have enough senior citizens, you would be pleasantly surprised with the kind of relief they can offer to you from your parenting responsibilities for the evening and you can concentrate on being a host. The elderly people usually know wonderful tricks to distract the baby, and their touch itself is very reassuring.
To ensure that the baby is well-maintained and entertained throughout the party, prepare a well-planned guest list. It will be nice if most of the children who come in as invitees have no more than three or four years of age gap with your baby.
To engage and occupy the invitees, have enough indoor games handy. Children and sit down with their parents and friends to play those or participate in activities. For example, plan games where you give out clues and the children are supposed to locate within the venue, the object that you mean. These kind of games stimulate their brains. Even if you have made sitting arrangements on the floor for the convenience of the children, do also keep enough chairs for those who have difficulty sitting on the ground. These days of course, there are tattoo makers and magic shows and DJs who considerably take over the evening.
For any occasion, food is a great motivator. I have often seen birthday parties of children getting arranged in fast food chains. That might be the demand of the kids, but if you can, please avoid it. Stuffing the kids with aerated drinks and fast food on their special days is certainly not a good idea, as much as they might be loving those items. Rather, if you can, go for organic food. Get innovative dishes prepared with fruits and vegetables. In one birthday party we saw boiled eggs, cut into half and topped with chopped cucumbers, tomato and lettuce. All invitees including elders and kids had lapped it up. Another dish in the same party was boiled and lightly fried potatoes cut into half and stuffed with processed paneer; this has chopped onions and coriander topping. Such menus which are harmless, yet fun and innovative, will actually make your party stand out. However, while sending the invitations, don’t forget to check on the possible food allergies of little guests.
Of course there are a huge number of options that you can think of while fixing the return gifts. My personal suggestion here is to consider giving back nice, small, picturesque, age-appropriate books. Given that our children are growing up as the internet-generation, their relationship with books are on the downhill. They prefer to watch a video for a story, rather than reading it. Pass on a book with a short personal message for the parents. That can be a small gesture and attempt towards coming back to the good old habits.
Often parents prefer to venture out for exotic locations, instead of planning a party on the baby’s first birthday. Choose your locations wisely and do have a clear idea of what kind of child entertainment and precautions you can avail after you have travelled there. For example if you have chosen hills, do carry covered shoes, mosquito repellents and necessary medicines that can comfort the baby in high altitude. You may choose to go through this link for further details on travelling with a baby : http://www.sundayguardianlive.com/lifestyle/3456-how-travellers-can-babysit-their-children-road
Whether or not you are planning a party on your child’s first birthday, do consider donating a part of the money you allotted for the celebrations. There are underprivileged, specially-abled and critically unwell children who are less fortunate than your family. Thank the Lord for blessing you with a healthy baby, and pass on the gratitude by bringing some change, however small it might be, in the lives of those who are suffering infinitely.