Valentine’s Day celebrates love and showing your appreciation of others. Given how busy life can be, parents often struggle to invest the time needed to deepen the connection with their children.
Despite our good intentions, too often we forget to tell the ones we love how much they mean to us and how precious they are. Valentine’s day is a day to remind us to tell them that we are glad to have them in our lives. Celebrations don’t need to be extravagant, expensive or time-consuming. All you need is a little token of appreciation to show them how much you care.
1. Rethink Gifts
Valentine’s day gifts should not be about the item or product. That teaches all the wrong lessons about love. If you must buy a gift, choose it using the GIFT test: does it create more Gratitude, Intimacy, Fondness and Trust between you, or does it just impress? In other words, things like a mini chocolate bar, some flowers from the supermarket, a child-friendly Valentine’s day card, a note in their lunch box or heart-shaped pancakes. The simple gift of time can mean so much more to your children than an expensive toy.
2. Write a letter
A simple letter that explains how and why you love your children can be a great gift. When writing this, be as specific as possible e.g. “I love the way that you ask for a snuggle each night” or “I love the way that you smile with such enjoyment about life”. Any heartfelt letter will be cherished by the recipient much more than a store-bought gift. Children feel loved when we notice who they are and what they contribute. Your kids will reread these letters during tough times to remind themselves of how much you care about them.
3. Homemade gifts
Children may pester you to purchase things for them — how can they not, when they’re surrounded by constant buying messages and opportunities? — but they feel most loved when we spend time WITH them or doing something FOR them. So why not make them a voucher for a date to get a fluffy, a cheeseburger, sushi or a milkshake. Something they will appreciate and the added bonus of spending quality one on one time with you.
4. Get up a few minutes early so you can set up a special breakfast
Be sure to include something heart-shaped or sweet to eat. No need to make it over the top. In our house, I place the kids’ Valentine’s day cards where they sit for breakfast for them to open when they wake up. I then have something a little special for breakfast, like croissants and fruit – they also then head off to school or kindy with their love tank filled.
5. Let your kids know your love is with them all day
Tuck a little paper heart with a note into their backpack, lunch, jacket pocket, etc for them to find throughout the day. Again it does not need to be complicated. Write on the heart or note with simple text like: “You are special”, “You are one of a kind”, “Shine brightly today”, “You make me happy”, “You rock”, or “I love you more than the stars”.
6. Make the dinner mood festive
Make the dinner mood festive. Set the table with “wine glasses – this makes kids feel special. Our kids drink juice or fizzy from their wine glass. Have candles and enjoy a fun family dinner. While eating, have everyone go around the table and give each person a chance to appreciate each other. They don’t have to be earth-shaking, but something to strengthen relationships in the family. For example “Xavier I like how you are so helpful”, “Samantha I like how you look after your brothers”, “Isaac I appreciate all the jobs you do” or “Ezra I like how you make us all smile”.
7. Love in practice
If you’d like your kids to take pride in making the world a better place, Valentine’s day is a great opportunity to make love tangible. Show your kids how they should be treated in the years to come when they are in a relationship. Shower them in love and care now, and when they are older, they will look for these qualities in someone to spend the rest of their life with.
However you decide to celebrate the day, I hope that February 14 brings more love into your life. Happy Valentines Day!