A candlelight dinner, a wrapped gift waiting next to my plate—has my husband finally gotten the hints I’ve been dropping? No, I’m just remembering Valentine’s Days of my childhood. My mom always had a special night for the whole family. Even now that I’m in my thirties, I can count on her sending a package with fun little treats every February.
Romantic evenings are great, but when you become a parent love takes on a whole new dimension. Kids need to see their parents being affectionate with each other, but they also crave feeling like a part of a bigger unit. Family love is a great thing to cultivate—especially before the teen years when it can be harder to express your feelings during emotional ups and downs.
Last year I decorated a little white mailbox that I found at Target for a dollar; every night for the first two weeks of February, I left a special note or treat for my son. He loved waking up and running to see what the mailbox held. Then he would work secretly on putting something in for me to discover later. He’s already asked me when we can get the mailbox out again. Learn how to make your own special Valentine mailbox!
The Shaw family of MCAS Miramar have a great Valentine tradition with their three daughters (and baby son). They surprise their girls with fun decorations and a princess-like tea party. Everyone dresses up, dad acts as a princely escort and everyone has a great time.
Whatever your style or family situation, there are plenty of ways to make Valentine’s Day more than a romantic holiday. Other ideas include:
- Start the day off right with heart-shaped pancakes topped with strawberries and whipped cream.
- Send each child a card to arrive in the mail; there’s nothing like getting a special letter about why you are great. They can re-read it whenever they need a little pick me up.
- Visit an assisted living center and spread the love. After Christmas, things die down and guests are welcome. Bring homemade cards, treats or flowers to a few lonely seniors.
- Make a family collage to display on the wall. Draw, cut out pictures or write words, all expressing things you love about each other. It can serve as a reminder all year long.
- Go on a date as a family. Whether it is dinner and a movie, or ice cream and bowling, invite the kids and do a special activity.
- Put on a slideshow of family pictures. Kids can’t believe how much they grow. Power Point is an easy way to display, or many online photo sites have slideshow options.
- Have a theme dinner—everything red, everything in the shape of a heart, or using special names for dishes.
- Rent a black and white movie and watch together. The kids might groan but an old-fashioned romance is appropriate for all ages and can be a lot of fun, even if you are laughing at the forgotten fashions and dramatic embraces.
Life changes when you have kids. Your heart grows in ways you never imagined. Take some time this Valentine’s Day to make it extra clear to your children that you love them and are thrilled to have them in your life.
» Discover more ideas for spreading the love with edible treats, DIY gifts, cards and more!
Eliana Osborn lives with her husband and two sons. She’s hoping for flowers this Valentine’s Day but will be content with a special craft from preschool.