Most parents of young children don't get to have a romantic Valentine's Day dinner for two. But you can still celebrate in style, all day long — as a family. Let your kids know how much you love them by spending the day together having fun.
It's easy to get caught up in the daily routine of parenting. Get up, get everyone dressed, hustle out the door, run errands, clean up, make dinner, clean the kitchen, clean the kids — it never ends. Valentine's Day can be a lovely opportunity to celebrate your family. There are plenty of activities you can do that will give you some quality time with your spouse and kids.
Serve a special breakfast
Even if your kids are too young to understand Valentine's Day, you can clue them in to the occasion with a festive Valentine's Day kid-friendly breakfast table. And it doesn't require a lot of work. Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter on a package of frozen waffles and serve them with whipped cream and chocolate or strawberry syrup. Set the table with a red tablecloth, and don't hesitate to use the good china.
Write love letters
Write a letter to each of your children listing all the things you love about them. Help them make lists of the things they love about each family member and put them into a poem or special note. If your kids are too young to read or write, make a video instead. The point is to create a lasting reminder of what you love about someone special — that makes them feel special.
Practice acts of kindness
Together with your children, think of one nice thing you can do for each member of the family. Keep the focus on actions, not gifts. For example, maybe you and the kids can make Dad's favorite dessert for later. Your daughter could read a story to your son. Small gestures can demonstrate big love.
Make someone's day
Do you have an elderly neighbor or a friend who is going through a rough patch and could use a hand? Make and deliver a Valentine's Day basket of goodies. You can add candy, baked goods, pictures and paper flowers, and drop it off along with a warm hug. Let your children experience the joy of doing something nice for no reason at all.
Reach out to relatives
When was the last time your kids saw their grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins? Fire up the computer and the webcam — or FaceTime on your iPhone — and let them say hello. Even better — make it a weekly tradition to video chat with out-of-town family and friends. Regular video chats will let your children establish and maintain meaningful relationships with people who might otherwise exist for them only as names with vague associations.
What are your kids' favorite activities? Spend 20 minutes engaged in each child's preferred pastime. It's fun to say yes, and your children will be enthralled with your attention and enthusiasm. Shut down your phone, ignore the emails and just focus on play.
Dessert for dinner
To close the day on a special note, serve a backwards dinner starting with dessert. Can't bring yourself to serve the cookies first? Then try serving dinner on a picnic blanket in the family room. The point is to make it a little bit out of the ordinary and go with the flow.
Valentine's Day with children might not be as romantic as the holidays you once knew, but it can fill your heart with more love than you ever thought possible.
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