Most people don't have the luxury of picking their kids' birthdays, or even birth months. You're lucky if you can narrow it down to a season. (File photo)
So you got frisky during Snowzilla and you're pregnant. Congratulations! The miracle of life and all that. But, bad news: Your baby is due in October. And if you live near me, in Washington D.C., Maryland, or Virginia, that means you just missed a September public school cutoff (September 30 for D.C. and Virginia, September 1 for Maryland). You'll be paying for one extra year of private daycare, to the tune of about $1,800 a month.
But, bright side! You might make it back in 18 years when your kid earns an athletic scholarship: Kids who are among the oldest (and therefore biggest) in their grades tend to do better in sports. So, you basically redshirted without the questionable ethics.
Most people don't have the luxury of picking their kids' birthdays, or even birth months. You're lucky if you can narrow it down to a season. And every season has its pluses and minuses. We asked parents of kids born at different times of year what they liked and didn't like about their kids' birthdays.FALL
To add to the weirdness of the school cutoff issue here in the Washington region, the District has free pre-school starting at age 3 in many parts of the city, and Maryland public schools generally start with kindergarten at age 5. Jason and Sarah live two blocks from the Maryland border, but moving to other side of the line would keep their son out of public schools for three extra years - two years of pre-K plus the fact that he's a September baby, born just before the D.C.'s cutoff and just after Maryland's.
Other considerations for an autumn due date: You'll be sweating through your third trimester at the height of summer, but you'll have lovely weather during your parental leave. And bonus: Newborn Halloween costumes are the absolute cutest.WINTER
Winter is probably the least beloved birthday season, tax break notwithstanding (and that little bonus only applies if you push the kid out before the ball drops on New Years Eve). If your birthday is near the holidays, your big day will always get overshadowed by Christmas, relatives will always try to get away with giving just one present, and your friends (and maybe even you!) will always be out of town for your party.
The birthday present thing is a legit issue for young kids because they change so fast. Maybe your kid isn't ready for her first scooter or 48-piece jigsaw puzzle or ABC book at age 3, but by 3-and-a-half she might be. Parents of winter babies need to be intentional about keeping up with their kids' development and making sure to have age-appropriate toys around. A summer birthday provides a natural opportunity to update the toy chest at the midpoint of the year.
There are health concerns too: A newborn in winter is especially susceptible to all the germs that everyone's sneezing all over the place, and if you've got an older kid in daycare, you'll need to be on red alert during cold and flu season to keep your tiny one out of the path of the pathogens.
As winter drags on, Julia in Washington says a late February birthday can be "a nice bright spot." But birthday parties have to be inside (in this part of the country, anyway) and any parent of a winter baby will gripe about that problem given half a chance. Birthday parties in your house are a pain, and by about age 5, your kid has enough friends with enough crazed, sugar-fueled kid energy that you'd be well-advised to rent out some moon bounce fun-zone in the suburbs for the party. Make sure your deposit is refundable: Even indoor winter birthday parties are subject to cancellation because of snow or because the birthday boy or girl has caught some nasty bug, again.
Parents of winter babies, here's a hot tip: Kerry in Philadelphia says her parents won winter and birthdays all at once when they threw her a February scavenger hunt birthday party where kids competed to see who could find the longest icicle or dig up the most snowballs buried in the snow in the front yard. That's one way to get the kids out of your house.
If there's anything to be said for birthing babies in winter, it's that winter is a pretty good time to hole up inside for some intensive cozy time, and that's just what the first couple of months of a baby's life are like. And then, just as mom is healed up and baby is a little less fragile and you can conceive of leaving the house, boom: Spring!SPRING
Okay, so spring is the best birthday season. I don't think I'm jeopardizing my journalistic neutrality here; this is an objective fact. After having a January baby, I jockeyed for April the second time around and got lucky. Here's what I like about April: It's in the middle of the school year, so I won't be paying for a whole extra year of daycare but my kid won't be the youngest in his class, which can be hard on a kid. And it's lovely weather for parental leave. If he'd come just a tiny bit earlier, his birthday would have been peak bloom for cherry blossoms that year.
We really, really tried to have him on April 16: D.C. Emancipation Day, an awesome, meaningful local holiday (and also a day off from school). We wanted to avoid Tax Day, which would subject our kid to nerdy comments his entire life. And we definitely wanted to avoid April 14, a day known to Gillian Welch fans as "Ruination Day" because she has not one but two achingly sad songs about how April 14 is the day that Lincoln was shot (1865), the Titanic hit the iceberg (1912), and the Black Sunday dust storm devastated the Great Plains (1935). (She wrote those songs before April 14, 2010, when 2,700 died in an earthquake in China, and April 14, 2014, when Boko Haram abducted 276 schoolgirls in Nigeria.)
Late spring birthdays are classic for parents who work in academia, where you get the summer off and that doesn't even count against your parental leave. Score! On the other hand, summer can be a hassle with a newborn if you have older kids. (See below.)SUMMER
Ali in Atlanta had three babies in late spring, and she learned the hard way that it is very, very helpful to have the big kids in school all day when the newborn arrives. "Did you know they make baby wraps that you can wear in the water?" she says. "You better believe that boy took naps while I hung out in the pool watching my big kiddos."
A spring or summer birthday also spaces out the year nicely, some say, giving a kid something exciting to look forward to every few months. Relatives have come out of their post-holiday burnout and are ready to give gifts again, and you can plan birthday parties outside (with a rain plan, of course).
Some will complain that a summer birthday means your friends are often away on vacation, but on the bright side, you never have to take a final on your birthday.
Other considerations: You can't put sunscreen on a baby younger than 6 months - that's right, not even "baby" sunscreen - so you'll be desperately trying to stay in the shade all summer. And the summer is hot for babywearing. That moby wrap you got at your shower? Might as well return that bad boy right now.
If you're lucky enough to pop that kid out on July 4, you can fool him his whole childhood that those fireworks are for him.An asterisk for siblings
If you have other kids, birthday timing isn't just about holidays and weather; it's also about how far apart the kids' birthdays are on the calendar. It's nice to be able to re-use newborn clothes for two winter babies, say, and 6-month clothes in summer. You can have joint celebrations, at least for as long as they'll tolerate it before insisting on their own party with their own friends and not their siblings' little/big/weird friends around. And that means a lot of parties.
"Sometimes it feels like the entire month of May is one long, agonizing party for us," says Kerry, "between celebrations at preschool, elementary school, parties with friends, and parties with families. But then we don't have to plan any other parties for 11 months."