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“I can’t get the day off work!” Should you change your baby’s birthday to suit your schedule?

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It’s disappointing when your baby’s birthday falls on a not-so-convenient day. Maybe you’re working, maybe you’re in lockdown or, as in my daughter’s case, the birthday happens to be on Boxing Day. In those cases, the question is: should you celebrate on the actual day? Or change the day and celebrate when it suits you better?

One parent took to Mumsnet to discuss the issue. Her baby’s first birthday was coming up, but as she couldn’t get the day off work, she wanted to change the day. She wondered if she was being unreasonable to ignore her baby’s real birthday and celebrate a day later.

“I can be off work the day after his birthday,” she wrote. “And I was wondering whether to just move his birthday, rather than have presents on a day when I’ll only be there for an hour in the morning and then an hour before bedtime.”

“We’re planning to take him to the zoo as a celebration either at the weekend or the day after his birthday,” she added. “[My husband] can get either day off, but I wonder if it’d be better to just hold off and have us both off on the same day for the celebration, albeit a day later than it should be.”

A baby won’t know

The post attracted over 50 responses, with most parents assuring the mother that it would be absolutely fine to want to do this. In fact, many said they’ve done the exact same thing. “Your child won’t know any different!” said one. “Do it.”

“It’s fine,” said another. “I did it one year when my son was four. Moved it a couple of days early so it fell over a weekend and went away to celebrate.”

“Absolutely,” said yet another busy parent. “I did this this with my 2yo and even my 4yo had her birthday on a Thursday but we did her ‘birthday day’ on the following Saturday when we had birthday breakfast, people to visit and birthday tea – the only problem was that she wanted 2 cakes! A small price to pay for losing the working mum guilt!”

‘You can’t ignore the day!’

However, one parent disagreed with the notion of changing the day. “No way could I ignore it completely on the actual day!” they wrote. “Even if the baby isn’t aware, I would know I was ignoring it and it would feel strange. I’d still do a couple of presents and cards in the morning and maybe some cake after work. It’s ok to then celebrate it properly on another day.”

Another parent agreed. “I understand celebrating their birthday on another day for convenience but to actually pretend it’s a birthday and say happy birthday on the wrong day… is just wrong,” they posted. “Doesn’t matter how unaware a one year old is, you wouldn’t tell them a heap of lies all the time given that same fact that they don’t really understand anything as they’re only a baby anyway would you? So why on their birthday is it okay? Weird.”

Best of both worlds

Naturally, every parent should do what suits, but I don’t think I could ever simply ignore the real birthday. Perhaps the answer lies in doing a bit of both. Marking the actual day with a cake, present or a round of Happy Birthday at preschool – and then a celebration when everyone is free.

“Personally I’d do present on the actual day, and cake for tea, but save the outing to the next day,” says one follower. “At one, it’s all exciting whenever- having a present in the morning of your birthday won’t spoil a zoo trip the next day etc etc. I went to work on one of my children’s first birthdays – it was unavoidable. Just do what suits you.”

My favourite response is from a parent who opts for weeklong celebrations: “In our house we announce birthday weeks so we can actually party on any day that suits, though family presents and singing are on the day itself of course.”

This sounds ideal, however they go on to add: “A 1yo will be oblivious to a birthday anyway, they are happiest with a big cardboard box and some wrapping paper!”

Very true.

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