Every child wants to extend the birthday to as long as possible. As a parent I want to make them happy and I was thinking how to make it FEEL longer.
I learned that it is possible to make a birthday feel lasting longer….The key word is “expectations”.
Lets start from theory. Expectation is a belief that something will happen, a feeling or belief of how good something will be (Webster’s dictionary definition).
It is proven that expectations of events are often more important than events themselves as they last longer and they create a positive spin for long. Expectations created by mind are often compared to “placebo effect” in medicine. They are somewhat bending the reality as positive belief causes the brain to release endorphins. (“Mind over Mind: the surprising power of expectations” by Chris Berdik).
So for a few years already we are embarking on a “birthday journey” which goes well beyond 1 day. It’s a weeks or even month of activities to inspire positive expectations. It is proven (on our 5 birthday celebrations) that
- A birthday celebrated at home is bigger and longer. You can build in many preparatory activity and you really put a heart into it…. Every activity contributes to a feel of a birthday and extends the birthday feeling longer. It takes time, but it is so rewarding!
- Parents also should be excited about the birthday! As parents we have responsibility not to burdened by the birthday. Support and positive feel of the day is created by us.
- A birthday talked in advance with excitement is more meaningful than a birthday that just comes, no matter how big the day is.
- People matter in the celebration. When we were discussing with Max our best childhood birthdays I realized that 20-30 years after we remember people and how these people made us feel. We did remember some cakes and some very special gifts, but that all that survives.
- Savoring happy birthday memories over picture albums, collages or birthday stories told to grandparents, friends, are helping to re create happy memory structures.
More concretely this is what we do to make the birthday last longer: This year we are in the birthday mood for more than a month and Sasha’s birthday will only be tomorrow. We talked about plans 4 weeks in advance, we made hand written/hand drawn invitations over 1 long rainy weekend, we spent another weekend evening 1on1 time discussing agenda, theme and ordering cake. We went to Disneyland 2 weeks before the birthday as a birthday family present and finally today we baked a homemade cake to take to school tomorrow. The actual celebration is in a week from now. It does feel longer than 1 day. She is singing “happy birthday to me” at every level of the preparation and I feel very good as this year I managed to extend the birthday beyond 1 single day…. It was a great theme for a months of quality times with Sasha.
I wish adults could savor the birthday happiness just like children do…. May be each one of us can help the ones around to create the positive expectations and at least once celebrate it longer than a day.