As a family we celebrate Valentines Day together. Why should we not? It is a day to celebrate love. Love is not always the manifestation of romantic love. Families are mostly the first place children receive love and where they are loved and learn to love. It doesn’t need to be a huge fanfare, it can be simple but sincere. Celebrating Valentines Day can be a great opportunity to build security, pride and belonging into the family.
1. Giving Gifts
My husband and I give gifts to each other most years – we’re not religious about it. Sometimes only one of us will give the other a gift, sometimes both, sometimes none. It’s not an expectation, but we view it as an opportunity to do something to physically demonstrate our love. I’ve started doing something little for the children. A small car or little lollipop, maybe wrapped up or placed at the dinner table when they aren’t looking. (Last year I popped a chocolate at their place setting when I thought the kids were pre-occupied with something. They have a sixth sense for these sort of things and within a minute the chocolate was sussed out, the word had spread and the two year old triplets were doing their best to eat all chocolates at the table and there was a very (unloving) battle brewing in the defence of uneaten chocolates. They might be a year older, but immaturity still reigns I think I will re-think my strategy this year! (Plus three year olds are always spoiling for a fight. Another reason to encourage love!)
This year, when I mentioned to the children that it was Valentines Day tomorrow, spontaneously three of the children disappeared doing a craft activity for a gift. “Because,” my sensitive little five year old project leader told me, “I wove you and evweyone in our family vewy much Mummy.” Cue heartmelt.
2. Demonstrating Physical Affection
Mum and Dad, have a kiss and cuddle in front of the kids! This doesn’t gross our kids out yet, but if/when it does, we’ll continue doing it anyway. Because no matter what they say, there’s a sense of security that children have when they know their parents are in love. If you’re not particularly demonstrative it doesn’t need to be a big deal, but just try a new little romantic gesture. It’s kind of nice.
This is also a great chance to get affectionate and cuddly with the kids. A snuggly cuddle for the little ones or a loving embrace for an older child. It’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness of life and forget to be demonstrative with our love. Let Valentines Day be a reminder to reassure your child of your love for them.
3. Speak Loving Words
Valentines Day can also be a great prompt to speak words of love to your partner and children. Think of specific things you love about each person and find a moment to tell this to each member of the family. Alternatively, write some loving words into a note or a card. Even if you feel cheesy doing it on this particular day, loving words that expressed sincerely will always make an impact. During a family meal talk about what you love about your family unit and how we make one another feel love. Make your children proud of growing up in a love rich environment!
4. Craft Activities
Doing some simple craft activities with younger children is a great way to talk about love to the children while physically doing something. It gets it into their vocabulary and it sets the scene for later celebrations.
There are so many fun ways to present food on Valentines Day. Do some baking and present it with a heart shape. Find heart shaped sprinkles or try to theme your food as red or pink. Cook a special dinner that the family all enjoy eating. Set the table particularly special. Light candles. Children love candlelight eating! (I’d recommend advising the children before the meal starts what the action plan is for blowing out candles. Otherwise you may be re-lighting them all night or dealing with meltdowns over who blew what out!) Use this opportunity to teach children how to think creatively to set the table for a special occasion. Pick flowers together or make place settings or table decorations.
So Happy Valentines Day to you and your family! I hope you all have a loving day!