Valentine’s Day brings up mixed emotions for many people. Some people hate it, and some people love it. When you’re a kid, I think generally we tend to enjoy it. You get fun notes, and there’s candy, sometimes a party…what’s not to love?!
As you get older and you start to realize the romantic implications of the holiday, it can sometimes take on a bitter perspective. When the entire class no longer gets a Valentine, and only those in romantic relationships exchange gifts, it can feel lonely. It’s not jokingly called S.A.D. (singleness awareness day) for nothing!
In high school, one of my best friends had a tradition with her family. Every Valentine’s Day, her parents took the family out to breakfast. If it was a school day, they came to school late. They did it every year, so the school office was in the loop. But I noticed she didn’t hate or dread Valentine’s Day like so many of us did. Her parents filled her love tank before she ever came into contact with all the romantic stuff.
Since having kids, I was inspired to take a page from her family’s book. I want my kids to grow up seeing Valentine’s Day as a special day where we celebrate love – love of all kinds, not just the romantic kind. My goal is to ingrain that into their minds.
My hope is that the good memories they have of Valentine’s Day will override any negative experiences they may run into down the road. I’ve started this early, but even if your kids are older, it’s not too late to start! So, here are my top four tips to make Valentine’s Day special for kids:
1. Make food fun
Kids love food!! I mean, don’t we all?! If you can’t go out to a special breakfast as a family, maybe you can make a special breakfast. My girls look forward to pancakes with sprinkles and pink syrup! (One year I tried to make heart-shaped pancakes, but that was kind of a fail.)
If breakfast is out of the question, you could pack a special lunch. Your theme could be red/pink, or hearts, or maybe there’s a love note attached to every food item – the only limit is your imagination!
2. Exchange gifts/cards
Kids love crafts! Start a tradition of competing to make the most creative Valentine, or the funniest one. Keep it up into high school (and beyond?) so that when all the friends are getting Valentines, your kids know they get one too (because, well, tradition!)!
Chocolate is always another good option! Kids (and moms!) of all ages love chocolate, right? Or, if you’ve got girls, like I do, you could give flowers. Whether a single rose, a mini bouquet or an entire bouquet, even my littlest one treasures receiving flowers.
Take an idea from a (very funny, in my opinion) Friends episode and only give gifts or cards that have been hand-made. Or you could pick an entirely random gift theme. Maybe on February 14th, everyone gets a remote controlled toy, a small LEGO set, or a wacky gag gift. You get the idea.
You could also turn the focus outward and practice random acts of kindness on that day instead. Buy a couple of bouquets of flowers and let your kids choose random people to gift them to.
3. Make the day about love – all love
Celebrate love between you and the kids. Or between kids and their cousins, or the kids and you/your spouse. The list is endless, and thankfully, it doesn’t have to be contained.
Use the day to focus on ways to love others, and show them you love them. It may be via gifts, as mentioned above, or some other way. If you know someone’s love language, you and your kids can cater to their specific “language.” The message is love and the sky is the limit!
You can even expand outside the family or immediate circle of friends. Help your kids pick some people who may not often be verbally appreciated (like a teacher, a mailman, the school janitor, their Sunday school teacher), and make their Valentine’s Day special.
4. Take the kids on dates
If you can swing it, set up special Valentines dates one-on-one with your child (or children). Dress up and go out to eat at a place you wouldn’t normally go as a family unit.
This might mean a movie together, or just dinner at a restaurant fancier than Chick-Fil-A (though who doesn’t love Chick-Fil-A!?). If you have multiple children, just having one-on-one time with mom or dad is often a highlight for the kids.
Whatever you decide to do, I hope that you and your kids enjoy your Valentine’s Day! Make it fun and make some memories!