I don’t remember so much Valentine’s Day pressure in my younger years.
My mom would make us heart-shaped pancakes, we’d eat way too many of those tiny chalk-flavored candies at school, we’d exchange some cheap paper Valentine cards with our classmates, and that’d be it.
Then social media happened.
And suddenly it wasn’t enough to tell your kids you loved them. You also had to Instagram it or it totally didn’t count.
Those pancakes? Better be gluten-free, organic, free-range, raw. Do not even THINK about adding toxic red food coloring.
Well, I’m here to give you permission to go back to the good ol’ days and bless your kids with some distinctly non-Pinterest-worthy love this Valentine’s Day.
Here are ten Valentines you don’t need to run to the store or stress out about in order to bestow some love upon your brood.
- A hug
Grab them and don’t let them go.
2. Something sweet for breakfast
If you’re a healthy-ish parent (my husband regularly makes beet smoothies and no, I don’t know why I married him…), indulge your littles on Valentine’s Day. Sprinkle some chocolate chips on that pancake. Add a little whipped cream to garnish their cup of milk.
3. 10 reasons you love them
Write out a list of how cool you think you are. Personalize one for each kid. Stay away from the physical things and tell them about how much you love their kindness, their compassion, their strength, their laughter.
My infant son has the best deep-throated chuckle. He sounds like a 70-year-old man laughing. It gets the rest of us going every time.
My preschooler is incredibly thoughtful. He looks after his little brother with the care of a much, much older kid, and it warms my heart. Today I’m going to tell him.
4. The story of how you and your mate fell in love
My husband and I have told our older son about how we met and ended up together so many times he knows it by heart, but he still never tires of it.
(And we didn’t know how much of it was over his head until one day he said, “I know, I know. Wheaton College is where you fell in love. So… is that like falling down?”)
Share those stories with your kids. Tell them about how much you love each other, why you love each other, and that you choose to love each other even when it’s hard.
5. Permission to get messy
Kids love a mud puddle or a flour fight or a good barefoot run at the park. Put on some old clothes and go have fun. Roll down that snowbank. Dig in that dirt. Hike up that grassy hill. They’ll love it, and so will you.
6. Love for a neighbor
“It’s Valentine’s Day! Let’s ring Steve’s bell and tell him that we think he’s an awesome neighbor.” It can be that simple.
Think of someone who might be a little lonely this holiday, and model for your kids what it is to love your neighbor.
Help your kids color a picture and deliver it. Shovel some snow. Roll in those trash cans. Spread the love.
7. An outdoor adventure
We take our kids on adventure walks around the neighborhood. They don’t have to be huge excursions, just a few blocks of snail-searching and leaf-collecting and stick-banging.
Maybe the tundra is still frozen by you. If so, bundle up and go breathe in some of that deliciously chilled air.
8. A handmade card
THIS IS NOT A THING TO STRESS ABOUT. Repeat after me: printer paper is fine. Notebook paper is fine. Post-it notes are fine.
Draw a few hearts. Write a note about how much you love them. Tuck the card under their pillow or in their pocket
See what they want to do and do it. Fifteen minutes at the train table? Done. Half an hour reading books? Yes.
The phrase “take as long as you want” is music to a kid’s ears.
Turn off the smart phone for an hour. For a whole evening. Same with the television. Give your kids your 100%-undivided attention.
Happy Valentine’s Day, friends!
For more on Valentine’s Day, check out these fun past posts.