Having three kids so close in age can be chaotic sometimes to say the least. On top of the general craziness of having three, we have all the stuff that comes with having special needs sprinkled in as well. At their current ages of 8, 6 and almost 4, all of their needs remain pretty high. Even at home, I feel like I spend my time running between them, often to provide help or just putting out some sort of fire. Full-on one-on-one attention is hard to come by at our house for any of the children. So, we have made it a point to give them at least one day of extra one-on-one attention each year. We call it their “Birthday-Day-Out”.

I enjoy doing things up big for birthdays. When I was growing up, birthdays were always a big deal in our house. Even on years that we didn’t have a big party (just family stuff), we always got to pick somewhere to go or something to do. The birthday kid got to pick the food, the shows, the music in the car, etc. It was a day of their choices for the most part. A day that you got to feel a little extra special.

I always wanted something similar for my kids. The only difference was we decided to take it a step further and make it not only a day of “their picks” but a one-on-one day. All of my siblings were pretty spread out in age and not that my parents weren’t busy with the other kids, but getting attention didn’t feel as hard to come by. I always wanted my kids to be close in age. I love that they get to grow up together that way, but it does still come at a little bit of a cost.

Damion was not even two yet when Delia was born. He was pretty much non-verbal and going through many of daily issues that came along with his autism. There were communication barriers, plenty of sensory processing issues, all on top of being a normal toddler. Bringing home his new little sister was a big adjustment. Getting a new sibling is something even most neurotypical kids can struggle with. He was used to being the only one, and now he had to share mom and dad. He took the change better than I expected for my boy who likes his routines, but we could still see that it was hard on him. Not long after she was born, his second birthday was coming up and we were determined to make it special for our guy. He loved his new sister, but I knew he missed the one-on-one time. So, we decided to take him out, with just us. We had already done his first day out the previous birthday before she was born, but we knew that the one-on-one time would be just that much more special for him that time around.

Some years we stayed pretty conservative; taking the kids to a local festival or out bowling. Some years we traveled a bit farther. Sometimes we fill the whole day with one “big” place, or sometimes we hop to a number of less grand places to fill the day. Some years we have chosen the place, hoping to give them a new experience that we think they may enjoy, and some years we go exactly where they choose. As the kids got older, we have started making a point to stay away for the full night, even if we stay in a hotel just a town away. But regardless of the small differences each day has from year to year, the point is, we always go.

As our family continued to grow, it made the birthday-day-outs that much more important. It wasn’t just being done with our oldest who had trouble moving from his time of being the only one to having to share mom and dad. It was now being done with the ones who never really knew anything other than sharing us. The one-on-one time was a big deal for them, and for us.

We still do the party. We still do the regular birthday stuff. This is just another add-on. Another tradition that we have started that I have no intention of stopping anytime soon. I know that they enjoy their special day out. Choosing where to go and what we get to do. All the days events tailored to what they like. One day where they don’t have to share their toys, or snacks, or more importantly, their mom and dad.