Before the diapers and the laundry, the meal-planning and the playdate planning, there was actual time for Valentine's Day. Way back then pre-children, time spent counting cards and arranging grand romantic gestures was special. Now, it might feel enough just to make it to the sofa at the end of the day with a glass of wine.
But having children doesn't have to mean the end of Valentines day. Instead, it can be the start of a really connection-filled family celebration.
Why not make Valentines a day of family love and snuggles?
You can get crafty a making a card for your partner from all of you. Here's a very simple connecting collaberative activity from The Artful Parent. You might bake cookies together. Or write love notes for each other and send them back and forth by paper airplane of slip them under bedroom doors.
Who needs a fancy candlelight dinner? Hand in Hand instructor Skye Munro doesn't wait for dark. She throws a V-day breakfast, making the kids their favourite breakfast foods and sharing love appreciations. After the plates are cleared, she announces Special Time.
Spend Special Time
Nothing tells children they are loved more than Special Time. If you can, extend your session and set the timer for a full 30 minutes or more of uninterrupted one-on-one time. When children are able to indulge in your loving attention, they go away with a full love tank, and you give yourself space to notice their special qualities and all that you love about them.
Share Special Time
If you are talking about love and what it means to show love, why not visit someone who could use some extra? You could plan on meeting members of your extended family and sharing time with them. Perhaps there is someone in the community the children can think of who could use a visit, or a teacher they'd like to honor?
Indulge the Candy…Kind of
Warm fuzzies can disappear fast when your children return from school or family begging to eat candied love hearts or Valentines chocolates. Sometimes the fascination with these items is bigger than the urge to consume them. A dose of extra Special Time can help.
Set the timer for as long as you can handle – two minutes, five minutes, 10 minutes. Have your child tip out the candy, sort it, describe it, and revel in it as you revel in them. You might like to set a limit on what they can eat in this time. Perhaps they'd like to select two pieces, perhaps you want to let them indulge in all they can during that time – whatever feels right.
Play Up the Romance
If you are craving the fancy dinners of old, why not re-create one family style. Pull out the play kitchen, playdough and pretend food, invite your children to dinner and see where they take you! Kids love to lead play and will delight in it even more if you can follow their lead. Maybe you'll find them giving you a makeover and dressing you up, or creating some imaginative menus for you to savour.
Or give a regular dinner a special Valentine's twist. Instead of sitting at the table, throw out a blanket and have a picnic at home, or set the dinner table with lighted candles. There's something about them that can be calming and meditative, even for little children. Once the mood is set, you can ask about people in their lives that they love or what they've most loved about the day.
Special Time, Grown up Style.
Take some time to feel the love once the children are tucked up in bed. Hand in Hand's Stephanie Parker describes in this post how 15 minutes of special time with her husband really boosted their relationship. Or schedule some time with a listening partner. Having someone listen to you at night is a great way to offload the day's stresses, or savor what went well, and leaves you with a quieter mind to relax and get some rest.
Games For Parents That Are Too Tired to Play will help if you want to be playful but don't have the energy – and don't involve you moving from your chair.
Need some loving yourself? Find out why Listening Partnerships are the ultimate Self-Care plan.