New Perspective

Leap Day Never Meant Anything To Me Until I Became A Mom

Now the day holds a special place in my heart.

A child blows out the birthday candle on their cake.
Images By Tang Ming Tung/Getty Images

Five hundred, twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes. As any avid Rent fan knows, this is how you can go about measuring the length of a year — so long as you don’t mind doing a little math along the way. Each day consists of 1,440 minutes, and since typically each year is 365 days, this gives you a grand total of, you guessed it, 525,600. However, this year, that math is going to add up a little differently, thanks to an intercalary phenomenon that occurs once every four years: Leap Day. This is when an extra day is added to the calendar in February, extending the month to 29 days instead of the usual 28. Until now, I’d never really thought twice about Leap Day or Leap Year since it never really impacted my life. And then my son was born.

My son was born on August 29, 2020, and while that may initially look like it has no connection to Leap Day at all, it definitely came to the forefront of my mind when my baby was about to turn six months old. As a first-time mom, I was eager to celebrate what felt like a pretty significant milestone for my little guy. Here he was, about to turn a half-year-old, and I was ready to make the event Instagram official. But then, as the date grew closer and closer, I realized that his official half-birthday was February 29 — a date that didn’t exist that year. Sure, I ended up still doing a post on March 1 to commemorate the occasion, and my son (being a baby and having no concept of time or dates or calendar conundrums) was unphased by the whole thing.

For me, I was left with a deeper appreciation for what Leap Day means and how it impacts others — such as those who are actually born on February 29 and only get the chance to celebrate on their actual birthday once every four years. This upcoming February will be the first time my son will have an actual half-birthday at the age of 3 1/2. It may not feel like as big of a milestone anymore now that he’s older, but it blows my mind that he’ll be 7 1/2 years old the next time this happens. It’s wild! And it makes me want to mark the occasion in a special way. So, if you’re looking for a few ideas for how to celebrate Leap Year babies in a fun, memorable way, here are some suggestions.

1. Make “leaping” part of the theme.

Whether it’s playing hopscotch, leapfrog, jumping rope, or even a sack race, there are a lot of great ways to incorporate “leaping” games into any great Leap Day birthday party. You could also have a track-and-field-like section and see who can “leap” the farthest. These are all beloved activities kids are sure to enjoy. Plus, it’s guaranteed to make them all tuckered out so you can relax with some peace and quiet later that night. It’s a win-win!

2. Go on a hunting expedition to find animals that leap.

This could mean going to the zoo and checking out the kangaroos, lemurs, and cougars — or it could mean turning your own backyard into a jungle and searching for creatures that leap, such as frogs, grasshoppers, or even rabbits, if you’re lucky. Either way, your kiddo will love feeling like an explorer and come to appreciate all the fun things centered around leaping.

3. Help them write a letter to their future self.

Since this special time only comes around once every four years, it could be fun to take some time and think about what your child would like their future self to know. This could entail reminding themselves of things they currently love at this age, predicting what they will be like when they read the letter four years from now, or goals they’d like to try and achieve before the next Leap Year. Then, you can tuck the letter away almost like a time capsule, giving them something extra special to look forward to in the coming years.

4. Go over the history surrounding Leap Year.

A history lesson may not sound all that fun when it comes to birthday celebrations, but your kid could find it interesting to take a few minutes and learn about what makes this day so unique. What is a Leap Year? Why does it happen?

It also wouldn’t hurt to throw in some fun facts about the day to help show why Leap Year babies are so awesome — like the fact that Superman was born on Feb. 29, according to DC Comics. And honestly, who wouldn’t want to share a special birthday with the Man of Steel?!?!

5. Make off-birthdays a two-day affair.

Since their actual birthday only comes around every four years, it could be fun to make those non-birthday years extra impactful by planning a two-day celebration for Feb. 28 and March 1. This doesn’t necessarily have to mean two birthday parties, but simply planning some fun activities you can all do together to celebrate their big day(s).

Maybe one day you could go to the movies (movie and snacks of their choosing, of course) and the other day go to some sort of park or mall or sporting event — whatever fits best with your child’s interests. They’ll appreciate the extra mile you’re going to make them feel special. Plus, it’ll help them embrace the benefits of having a different, one-of-a-kind birthday.