Birthdays are celebrated in a variety of ways and traditions across the globe — but these days those celebrations look a bit different. With the COVID-19 pandemic still a serious public health threat in places like the U.S., many families are celebrating their birthdays in quarantine or socially distanced. For foster children, this continued isolation may be especially tough. It is possible that before your foster kid ended up in your home, they never got to celebrate a birthday with proper fanfare. Now, while there will be fanfare, it will be cautious fanfare.
Masks, social distancing, and remote life are common standards these days. As we head into another year battling this deadly (and mutating) virus, you and your family might be dreading the thought of celebrating more birthdays away from loved ones. However, there are all sorts of creative ways to safely spend meaningful days like birthdays with friends and family.
Of course, we want to help our kids and family enjoy their birthdays as normally as possible. However, for the sake of health and safety, many feel the need to implement the right precautions for birthday celebrations and the like. If your foster child has a birthday coming up and you’re looking for ways to make the day a little extra special during the pandemic, here are some simple and safe tips to help get you started:
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a lot of negative and sudden changes as well as increased difficulties for thousands across the world. With many schools closing again because of outbreaks of Omicron and other variants, kids are spending more time at home alone, missing out on important social interactions. For some foster kids, this may mean an unintentional repetition of the pattern they lived in before joining your family. If your foster child doesn’t have a primary care physician or a therapist, it’s time to find one. Look for a healthcare provider who practices empathy to a high degree. This will help them connect with your child and create mutual respect that lets the provider explain situations like a pandemic birthday to your child.
While planning your foster kid’s party this year, be sure to utilize the WHO’s and CDC’s safety guidelines for gatherings, such as how to serve food with minimal exposure and what masks are and are not considered effective. These resources are also great to reference if you have a disgruntled guest who doesn’t see why they need to practice social distancing or wear a mask throughout the party. Helping those close to us understand how to safely celebrate things like birthdays as well as why we need to be mindful and follow safety guidelines can help save lives and help us bring a close to this awful situation.
After you’ve equipped yourself with the proper COVID-19 gathering suggestions, the real planning of the celebration can begin. Starting with the menu, look for options that you can serve safely to a small gathering. In the past, picking kids’ birthday party food was as easy as ordering a few pizzas. However, this year, you might be worried about the risks that come with common party food options.
It’s important to avoid communal food set-ups like dips and nachos. It’s also a good idea to have everyone serve themselves, with clean hands, one at a time. It’s worth noting that the CDC has said that the chances of getting COVID-19 via eating or handling food are actually fairly low. This means if your foster child has a favorite dish, you can go ahead and add it to the menu. While last year, blowing out candles on the cake may have been a no-no, they are making a comeback. Plus, blowing out candles is always a highlight of a child’s birthday. If you’re concerned about germs at your child’s party, there is a clever hack that shows how to safely do so that is certainly worth trying.
You also want to ensure you’re taking any of your child’s dietary restrictions in mind. Many foster children enter new homes under a great deal of stress. This stress can cause myriad physical issues such as trouble sleeping and gastrointestinal problems such as GERD. Conditions like this may require you to help your foster child with lifestyle mods to mitigate symptoms, and you’ll need to take these into account when planning their party menu.
Location is an important consideration for birthdays, perhaps more than ever this year. In terms of small gatherings, it’s strongly recommended to host events outside as much as possible. There is less chance of transmission and it’s easier to maintain the correct six feet apart when outdoors. Ask your foster child where they would like to have their party and plan accordingly. Perhaps you can have the party at the local park. It’s easy to find numerous outdoor birthday party ideas; however, throwing a birthday party outside isn’t always feasible when considering the elderly, disabled, and very young children. Winter weather conditions can also easily put a damper on plans.
If you can’t have the party outside, consider keeping the party at your house but with limited guests. Keep in mind if you need to host the event at your house it’s a good idea for you and your guests to get tested beforehand. Also, instead of having guests come over all at once at a particular time, set up a window of a few hours and assign people to come during certain time slots. This will help ensure you and your kids safely get to see important loved ones like grandparents and friends.
If the past year has taught people anything, it’s to be prepared for the unexpected. As you plan for your next celebration it’s important to keep in mind weather conditions as well as the number of COVID-19 cases in your area. Safety should always be the number one priority, even if that means, unfortunately, canceling. At the end of the day, it may be tough now, but the small sacrifices we make today will ensure we have plenty of birthday celebrations to enjoy in the future.