If this is your first Valentine’s Day as a parent, chances are you’ll see the sometimes-cheesy holiday in a whole new light now that your heart belongs to your little one. What’s more, there’s nothing like seeing your partner become a mother or father to help you fall in love with them all over again, so this February, may be like none before. It’s the month of love, and whether you’re a big V-Day supporter or not, with kids it’s a fun excuse to spread the love. Here are some fun ideas to try with your growing family this month.
With Wee Ones
Your newborn doesn’t know what day it is, and your days might be blending together in the fog of sleep deprivation, so Valentine’s Day might look more like valuing yourself and your partner over celebrating with baby. Life with a new baby can be all consuming, and mom and dad often don’t have much left to give to one another at the end of the day, but if you can, use Valentine’s Day as an excuse to ask your family or a close friend to watch baby and get out for a couple of hours, just you two. If that’s not possible, bring baby along for a lunch date. The important thing here is getting out of the house, having a change of scenery from the nursery, and remembering what it means to love someone other than your beautiful baby.
With Babies and Toddlers
Valentine’s Day is a great occasion to create a tradition and focus on love. Send your partner a loving note from baby and share what you love most about them as a Mom or Dad. Your toddler is now old enough to understand that you’re celebrating something so share the basics of what Valentine’s Day means to you. If your toddler has started to talk, chances are she can say “I Love You” so make sure to call the grandparents and have baby tell them how she feels.
Crafts are a fun way to celebrate with toddlers, too. Explore colour combinations and get your hands dirty by mixing red and pink paints. Give or mail some masterpieces to far-away family with a little Valentine’s Day note from your toddler.
Food is another way to get festive! Use the holiday as an excuse to get your toddler in the kitchen and let him help you make something sweet to share with friends and family. Heart cookies are always our favourite (see recipe below). Serve your toddler red and pink foods such as berries, tomatoes, and peppers, and make smoothies and soups for a Valentine’s day-themed menu.
Once you have school-aged kids, Valentine’s Day becomes a full-fledged holiday! They’ll probably be doing crafts and activities the week leading up to the holiday, so have fun with it and encourage them to think deeper beyond the heart shaped cut outs. What does it mean to really love someone? Valentine’s Day is a great teaching opportunity for our children – are there kids in their class who might need some extra love? Are there some kids who are unkind at school? The conversations we have with our little ones can go in any direction, but try to use the occasion to direct them towards these reflections. If your child’s school permits giving out Valentines, insist that your child gives one to everyone. We were saddened last year when one of our kids told us they were the only one in their class who gave a Valentine to every child, and not just their closest friends. Of course, you can’t change others, but we certainly can teach our own children to include and love everyone, starting with small circumstances like Valentine’s Day.
Being a parent gives love a whole new meaning, and you’ve likely never experienced a love to protective, intense, and vulnerable. Use this festive month to reflect on the love you have for your child and for others, and have fun sharing that love with those around you!
Recipe for Heart Cookies
- 1 cup of butter
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 egg
- 5 tsp vanilla extract
- 0.5 tsp of almond extract
- 5 tsp baking soda
- 3 cups flour
- pinch of salt
Mix everything together, roll out, and use heart shaped cookie cutters.
Bake @ 350 for 8 minutes. Ice with a glaze of milk and icing sugar and red food colouring.