In the golden era of pre-children romance, you and your partner probably had fantastic plans for Valentine’s Day. You ate dinner at restaurants while having uninterrupted conversations and using cloth napkins. You went to the movies and not a single character was a cartoon.
Those were the days.
Now you’ve got kids, and the holiday has taken on new meaning. Sure, the romantic dates were fun, but there is a whole lot more love in your life now that you’ve got little ones. So embrace the day dedicated to love and move beyond candy hearts and chocolate. Here are 10 ideas for “dates” the entire family can enjoy.
Cook a Special Dinner Together
Cooking with kids involves extra clean up, but it can be so much fun. And you’ll reap other benefits as well. Kids who cook with parents are more likely to try the finished meal, and parents are given the chance to model healthy eating habits.
Volunteer to Show the Love
Kids learn by example, and a great way to instill gratitude and a sense of service is by volunteering with them. So pick a cause close to your heart, like an animal shelter or local thrift shop, and sign up to volunteer. There are lots of options even for younger kids, so don’t let age deter you.
Go for a Family Hike
Getting fresh air is good for your lungs and your vitamin D intake. Have your little Valentine be your hiking buddy. Explain to the kids that the best way to show love is to be together and to spend quality time with one another.
Make Valentine’s Crafts
Nothing says Valentine’s Day like paper hearts. Get out the red and white glitter and have fun making Valentine’s for friends, family and neighbors. Encourage your kids to think about people in your family or neighborhood who might not get Valentine’s from anyone else. Imagine the look of surprise on your neighbor’s face when you show up with a red heart just for them.
Watch a Movie
As parents, you may find heading out to the 9 p.m. showing of the latest movie with Oscar-buzz isn’t realistic. That doesn’t mean you have to give up on movies all together, though.
Valentine’s Day is a great excuse to eat popcorn and snuggle together under a blanket watching a kids’ film. Of course, a love story will be in order for Valentine’s Day, so “Lady and the Tramp” or another adorable classic should be in the queue.
Write Poetry Together
Kids love rhyming games and silly songs, and what is more romantic than poetry? Start them out with the quintessential “Roses are red, violets are blue” and see where their little minds go. You’ll get some funny, silly and adorable poems out of the exercise.
Celebrate at Breakfast
Maybe you are lucky enough to have a babysitter for the night, or maybe your kids are pretty dependent on their 7 p.m. bedtime. If that’s the case, move the Valentine’s celebration to breakfast.
Get the kids red and pink pajamas. Make heart-shaped pancakes, serve up a strawberry smoothie and shape your bacon into little hearts. Ask each family member to talk about something that they love about your family. You’ll be all loved up by the time you finish your coffee.
Throw a Party
Valentine’s Day is a great time to through a kid-friendly party. You won’t experience the stress or familial obligations of Thanksgiving, Easter or Christmas, and you can really enjoy yourself and your guests.
You can print out Valentine-themed puzzles or play a game with conversation hearts, seeing who can build the highest tower. Don’t forget the grownups. Rose champagne is an easy and pretty drink option for moms and dads.
Read Valentine’s-Themed Children’s Books
The family who reads together stays together. Snuggling up with some Valentine’s-themed books is an educational and sweet way to spend some time together on February 14. Your local library will have a collection on display. If you’d like to make these books a permanent part of your holiday routine, here is a list of suggested Valentine’s kids’ books.
Start a Valentine’s Day Phone Tree
Chances are not all of your family and friends live nearby. Set up the tablet and Skype or Facetime with loved ones throughout the day. Call grandparents and great grandparents. Give a shout out to your great aunt. Talk to the kids about the importance of telling people you’re thinking of them and loving them, even if they live miles away.
Valentine’s Day takes on a different meaning when you have kids. Chances are you won’t be breaking out the sexy nightie, eating a box of chocolates or going out to a candlelit dinner. But that doesn’t mean that your holiday won’t be filled with love. By involving the kids in your day of love, you’ll teach them important lessons about communications, quality time and love.