When Valentine’s day rolls around, your opinion of the holiday is usually based on your partnership status. People in loving or new relationships may get excited at the prospect of getting dressed up for date night. Those who are single may be grateful they do not have to spend the money or find themselves crying into a carton of ice cream watching The Notebook.
Whatever your relationship status, we can all agree that Valentine’s Day is targeted at couples. The focus is heavily on a partnership with wine and dine offers for two, and chocolates, alcohol, and naughty cards are sold at every shop. Celebrating your partner and showing them that you care is important and there is value in having a holiday specifically for this purpose.
On the other hand, I also feel that the heavy focus on romantic partnership creates a feeling of loneliness and loss in those who do not participate. As a mother, I do not want my children to determine their value based on if they are in a successful relationship or not. Yet I want them to understand how important it is for them to put in effort in any relationship they value.
Ultimately, this has lead to an unconventional view of Valentine’s Day in our household. I hope that by sharing my experience and how I celebrate Valentine’s Day with my kids, it will help those of you out there who find yourself alone with children on this partner-focused holiday. After all, there are tons of single parents out there who will not be getting roses. Instead, they will be at home wiping little noses.
We don’t call it Valentine’s Day in our house
First off, we do not often refer to it as Valentine’s Day, but instead we call it Love Day. My kids know that couples go out and have fancy meals and buy each other gifts on this day. They know about all the standard Valentine’s Day traditions and how important it is to show your partner you love them. When you are older. Much much older.
Additionally, they know that we will be doing something special together to show our love for each other. Because Love Day is not just about being part of a partnership. Love Day is a day to show everyone in your life how much you care about them. The focus is removed from being part of a pair and is instead put on healthy ways to celebrate and show love. Perhaps some people may find this a little odd, but it has worked brilliantly in our house.
How I celebrate Valentine’s Day with my kids
Usually, we begin preparing by making heart-shaped cards and writing little messages inside a few days before. Sometimes we buy or create love heart garlands and decorations to hang around the house. We cover the dinner table in a cheesy heart dotted table cloth. We plan out a “fancy” dinner to have on Valentine’s Day, which often ends up being something like chocolate chip pancakes with strawberries. You weren’t expecting steak and wine, were you? Some years we even bake heart-shaped cookies or make pink glitter cupcakes.
Then on Valentine’s Day, we begin our Love Day celebrations by stealthily sliding the heart-shaped notes under bedroom doors when no one is looking. Presents are passed around throughout the day, including Valentine staples such as teddy bears, chocolates, flowers, and homemade jewellery.
In the evening, we all sit down together and have our fancy dinner, while we each take turns finishing the sentence “I love you because…” Sometimes the answers will move you to tears, and sometimes they make you laugh so hard you spit out your tea. Either way, Valentine’s Day is always memorable, and we usually finish off the evening snuggled up on the sofa watching a movie.
Life lessons from Valentine’s Day
I will admit it is nice to have candlelit meals, roses, and fancy poems. But right now I think this Valentine’s Day tradition is really good. I hope it teaches my children to show love to all the people in their life. That while a partnership is great and wonderful to have, it doesn’t necessarily define you or how well you are doing in life. That love should be celebrated in the many forms it comes in your life.
I hope the little things we do to show each other we care will translate well into adulthood. Perhaps my boys will have learned a bit about showing their emotions and being romantic. Perhaps my daughter will learn how empowering it is for her to initiate romantic gestures. Above all else, I hope they will always feel loved and cherished, with fond memories when they are older.