We often speak these three little words — I love you — to our children. Recently I thought about how I showed my children how much I loved them on Valentine’s Day. Children may forget how often they hear those three little words, but I can attest to the fact that they will remember many of the things you do and carry that with them into their adult lives.
How do I know? Last week I ran into my grown daughter’s childhood best friend. She asked if she could come over this year and have my husband make his famous heart-shaped pancakes. “Or,” she asked, “Can I come over for your red dinner?” This reminded me of how important these fun things can impact our children as they mature.
Celebrate with food
- Make heart-shaped pancakes or waffles for breakfast. Better yet, how about making them for dinner with lots of whipped cream and strawberries?
- Write a note to your child and put it into his lunch bag or backpack, so he is surprised to find a note from you. You can event do this each day for the entire month.
- Decorate their lunch boxes in hearts and stickers. The kids will feel extra special when they take it out of their backpacks at school.
- Cut their sandwiches into hearts.
- Make a dinner with all red foods. Our tradition was spaghetti, red JELL-O, I added a little food coloring to muffins and to top it off, strawberry milk. (Note: We did the same idea in March for St. Patrick’s Day.)
- Make your children’s favorite dinner or order heart-shaped Valentine pizzas. Many neighborhood pizza shops make them for Valentine’s Day.
- Invite a child’s friend over for dinner that night.
- Bake a heart-shaped treat together. It could be a cake that you frost in red or pink, with lots of red jimmies or heart-shaped candies on top. Maybe you make heart-shaped cookies or Rice Krispie treats together.
- Make fruit kabobs with different red fruits.
- Make strawberry sundaes together and top them off with strawberries and raspberries.
- Treat your child to lunch or dinner at her favorite restaurant.
- Have an indoor picnic together in the family or living room.
- Have hot cocoa with marshmallows together.
Celebrate with art
- Using window paint, decorate your child’s window with hearts and messages. It washes off easily. You could even create a window mural together.
- Make hearts out of construction paper and decorate your house.
- Write a special poem about your child that expresses your loving thoughts and feelings.
- Sing and dance to your child’s favorite songs.
- Paint a picture together.
- Make a photo collage of your child or family over time.
- Write a chalk message for your kids to see on the driveway or sidewalk when they leave the house.
- Make special Valentine’s cards or pictures together and send them out.
Brighten up the daily activities
- Volunteer at their school Valentine’s Day party.
- Bring your child’s favorite pet or stuffed animal with you in the car when you pick him up from school.
- Read your favorite childhood book together.
- Visit the library and check out books on love or kindness.
- Write a message to your child and put it into a bottle. Leave it for her to find when she takes a bath.
- Have a warm towel ready for them when they get out of the bath.
- Give lots of hugs, kisses and snuggles. Kids never get enough of them.
- Vow to tell your children how much you love them every day, for the next 365 days.
- Spend the day together doing your child’s favorite activity.
- Learn how to say “I Love You” in a different language and teach it to your children.
- Give lots of Eskimo kisses.
- Play your children’s favorite game with them.
- Play outdoors together.
- Take your daughter to the salon and get a manicure together.
- Plan a scavenger hunt around your home with the prize being a book or activity together.
- Watch your child’s favorite movie or television show together. You can make pink popcorn to enjoy during the movie, too.
- Send a Valentine card to your child in the mail. Children love to receive mail.
- Take a family picture and put it in a heart-shaped frame for your kids to put in their bedrooms or special place in the house.
- Send a voice message to them via phone or leave a message on the answering machine for them to hear.
- Help someone in need. You and your child will feel satisfied with your act of kindness and it will be remembered.
- Make a donation or begin a college fund for your child.
- Buy your child a special treat or toy and have your child wake up to it.
- Take a trip to the toy department together and let your children pick out something special.
From past blog posts, you may know how truly passionate I am about reading to and with your child every day. I couldn’t let Valentine’s Day go unnoticed, so here is a list of books on love and kindness that you may want to read.
- “Llama Llama I Love You” by Anna Dewdney
- “Where Is Baby’s Valentine?” by Karen Katz
- “Happy Valentine’s Day, Curious George” by N. DiAngelo
- “Happy Valentine’s Day, Mouse!” by Laura Numeroff
- “Valentine’s Day Is Here” by Matt Mitter
- “The Day It Rained Hearts” by Felicia Bond
- “Heart to Heart” by Lois Ehlert
- “Love” by Matt de la Peña
- “Click, Clack, Moo I Love You!” by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin
- “Love from The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle
- “Love Is” by Diane Adams
– Lori Irwin, M.Ed., is a Parenting Program volunteer. She’s a former teacher of children with severe disabilities in reading, a consultant with a leading educational book publisher, and a mother of two adult children.