Create Lasting Valentine’s Day Family Traditions
Valentine’s Day is all about love, it gives you the perfect opportunity to create more love in your family, not only between parent and child, but between siblings, too! We all need to be cherished. But despite our good intentions, too often we forget to tell the people we love just how precious they are to us. Valentine’s Day reminds us to tell all of our loved ones (not only our sweethearts) how glad we are that they’re in our lives.
Want some simple ideas to celebrate Valentine’s Day, when you’re too busy, too broke, and maybe even too harried to remember that you really adore these people you live with? Here are some ideas for you!
A Letter of Appreciation. The best gift of all is always a simple letter to your loved ones detailing how grateful you are to have them in your life. Be as specific as possible; “The way you let me sleep in the morning while you make the kids breakfast” and “The way you dance with such exuberance” are more satisfying than “You’re lovable,” because the recipient feels seen and appreciated. Don’t worry if it isn’t eloquent. Any heartfelt love letter will be cherished by the recipient much more than a store-bought gift. This isn’t only for your partner; children feel loved when we notice who they are and what they contribute to us, our family, and the world. Your kids will reread your letters during tough times. They’ll save them for the rest of their lives.
Homemade Valentines. Children may pester you to purchase things for them — but they feel most loved when we spend time WITH them or doing something FOR them. Kids feel loved when we listen to them and give them an opportunity to talk through their daily challenges. Every single day spend 15 minutes snuggling with each child before bed. Not reading, that’s separate. Snuggle time is just chatting or snuggling companionably.
Get up a few minutes early so you can enjoy opening each other’s Valentines at breakfast
Be sure to include something heart-shaped or sweet to eat.
Let your kids know your love is with them all day…by tucking little construction paper hearts with love notes into their backpack, lunch, jacket pocket, etc. for them to find throughout the day.
Make the dinner mood festive with a short family dance party before dinner. Don’t forget the romantic slow dance for the grown-ups! Finish with a family hug. After the dancing, eat with candles on the table. At dinner, go around the table and give each person a chance to give an appreciation…to every other family member. They don’t have to be earth-shaking to strengthen relationships.
Find five minutes to spend by yourself giving thanks for those you love. One at a time, visualize yourself hugging them, and them beaming back at you. Let the infinite tenderness of your love for them wash over you. Ask for help to let go of anything that gets in the way of being close to this person, who is so precious to you.
Spread the love. Before Valentine’s Day, invite your kids’ friends to make Valentines. Good music (theirs), delicious snacks (your job) and a digital or instant camera (“Here’s a picture of me making your valentine”) seem to provide enough cool context for tweens and even younger teens to let themselves enjoy this project. In fact, inviting friends always seems to double the fun, whatever their age.
Keep Valentines from past years and decorate the house. Each year you’ll ooh and ah over beautiful ones from the past, and the messy, misspelled hearts from the little ones will become priceless evidence of their past adorableness, which even they will treasure as they get older. For the month of February, your house will be papered with love.
Make some extra valentines to pass out as you go through your day. You’ll be amazed whose day you’ll be moved to brighten: the subway token clerk, the grocer, coworkers, neighbors, a homeless person you pass on the street. And you’ll go home with your own heart glowing and a few sizes larger. You might even just want to leave anonymous valentines at each neighbor’s door.
Need candy to make the day complete? In our house, sweets were never a major part of Valentine’s day, but my kids certainly came home from school with treats, and we often make cookies if we can find the time.
How about a telephone Valentine chain? Call someone dear to your family and pass the phone around to take turns telling this person you love them. Then ask that person to “Pass it forward” by calling someone they love, asking that person to call another, etc.
Sound surround yourself with love. This is the day for your Love Song playlist. Or let your kids create a new one. Skip the heartbroken ones and go straight for celebration, all day long!
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 in the world by taking valentines goodies or homemade valentines to a nursing home, hospital, or soup kitchen.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
This article appears in www.ahaparenting.com