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Balloon On Pavement

Celebrating birthdays in the midst of a pandemic

Fuzz Dix, Kids Matter facilitator, mum of 4 and foster mum, shares how parents in her community are finding creative ways to celebrate their children in spite of ongoing pandemic challenges…

As I headed out of church across the estate last week, a loud voice hailed me, “Hey, Fuzz, come and see this!”.  It was Shahara, one of the mums who did Kids Matter in my first group over five years ago.  She was having a tough time back then (with a newborn) and her relationship was very rocky. Now, Shahara has had a second baby, her kids have been at our toddler group and holiday clubs, and her partner helps out with our foodbank.  Life’s far from easy but she and her family are hanging in there.

I went over to where the couple were unloading their tiny car, which was jam-packed full with helium balloons – turns out it was their son’s 7th birthday.  Shahara was so excited to tell me how, even though they weren’t able to take him to see his grandparents because of Covid and they wouldn’t ever dream of hosting a party in their one-bed flat, they were planning on making him feel as special as they could on his birthday.

Constantina is another Kids Matter graduate who had an interesting time trying to figure out how to celebrate her daughter’s birthday in the current challenging circumstances.  She had hoped to have friends over to their home but the ‘rule of six’ made this awkward, yet they decided to change their plan inspite of the fact that Constantine and her husband had disregarded many of the restrictions earlier in lockdown. They are both working hard to be disciplined in their lives; Constantine’s husband is on the road to recovery after a tough few months of struggling with drug addiction. It was really encouraging to hear Constantina excited about having her older daughter bake a cake for the birthday girl, and that they have also been enjoying family disco times together.

Celebrating birthdays and other festivals can seem like a cherry on the cake of life rather than the important substance of daily living but it is one of the areas of parenting that we focus on in the Kids Matter programme. Paying special attention to our children helps them to feel that they matter and that we love them. There is so much going on in life that it’s easy for us to bypass the details that make our children feel imporant, and living in a pandemic merely adds to the challenge of taking time and notice. Covid-19 has changed the way we all live our lives and now, more than ever, parents are faced with a load of stuff – over the past 6 months, as well as all of the ongoing demands of parenting our kids, we have had to home-school them, emotionally support them through global crisis, be with them 24/7 with hardly anyone else to dilute the intensity, and  somehow carry on family life through these strange times.  As a result of this onslaught, we might often feel we are failing at life with our children. I have certainly had many days where I felt like I am doing a terrible job at all of it.

So, when I hear of parents in our community who, in spite of these ongoing challenges, are remembering the importance of celebrating birthdays, festivals and other traditions, for the sake of giving their children a deep sense of security and belonging, even when the world around seems more uncertain than ever, I am so proud of them. I am proud of the resilience they are showing in holding on to their own ability to make life better for their children, I am proud of their decision to choose joy and fun instead of letting themselves sink under the potentially-overwhelming pressures they live with, and I am proud that Kids Matter might have played a tiny part in it.

 

Kids Matter is a programme that engages with families and young children before crisis point – it strengthens families by giving mums and dads the tools to be competent, confident parents or caregivers. To get involved, as a volunteer or by financially supporting our programme, please contact us at info@kidsmatter.org.uk. 

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