If you’ve ever watched Daniel Tiger, they call Valentine’s Day Love Day, and it’s kind of my favorite. Yes, holidays can be over-commercialized, BUT you can choose how to celebrate, and what traditions are made in your family. Holidays can also be a fun and meaningful way to create memories. I truly believe that simple moments done well create the magic that resonates years later. During my time in private therapy practice, I saw the value that comes from a parent taking the time to verbally express love for their child (no matter the age), and follow it up with action that further created the connection and expression of love. Below are actions and things that you can do both with and for your child to show them love. I encourage you to verbalize your love as the reason why you’re choosing to do the action for them. When we clearly provide that connection, they can later refer back to it as a way they were shown love, and that only creates more value and connection.
The beauty of the below recommendations is that they can be made age-appropriate, or even with a significant other.
Prepare Their Favorite Food
Example: “I love you so much, I thought how can I absolutely make sure you know just how much! So, I took the time to make your favorite breakfast.”
Tips to Easily Show Your Love with Food
- This technique works well with breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even snacks.
- One of my kids’ favorite recipes is my Paleo Kiddie Corn Dogs. Even better, I can get them involved with helping to make it. As a result, not only do they get the reward of their favorite meal, they also get the quality time spent in the kitchen helping to make it.
- When I grocery shop, I keep my eyes open for a fun snack that I think my kids (or husband) might like. Then, I share it with them when I get home saying, “I saw this and thought, I bet Bram (instead of Bram, insert your child’s name here) would find this so delicious. Give it a try and let me know what you think.” Just expressing that you think of them when you’re out, and letting them hear that creates something special.
- You can also set the table in an extra fancy or special way, using grown-up plates and glasses, it’s just a simple gesture that can make things seem extra special for your children.
One On One Time
Example: “I love you so much and thought it would be so much fun to play with you today- just you and me! No screens or big brothers, what do you think?”
Tips to Make One On One Time Extra Special
- In general, you will find that most children (and most adults), feel valued and loved when someone they care about gives them undivided attention. Actively saying I’m putting away my phone, turning off the TV, or lowering the music, because I can’t wait to play with you just reinforces to your child that they are valued, loved, and worth all of your attention.
- Depending on the age of your child, the one on one time may look different, but the idea is to ask them to lead – to give them the control to choose and to enthusiastically follow their lead.
- Be sure to tuck your phone away, have care or a distraction for your other children, and give them the window of time you will be playing – we are going to play together for the ENTIRE HOUR, just you and me! Quality over quantity always wins here. For example, kids do so well with 20 uninterrupted focused minutes rather than partial and broken attention for two hours.
Example: “I love you so much I wanted to make something special for you.”
Tips to Show Your Love Through Creation
- Kids spend a lot of time drawing, creating, and eagerly gift us their works as a gesture of how much they love us. Why not do the same? You do not need to be an amazing artist or crafter. You can draw, paint, write a little story, or even create a meme.
- Have your creation ready for your child at breakfast, give it to them at bedtime, or when they come home from school. Or, leave it in the bathroom near their toothbrush. A fun creative way to say I love you is always a good idea. How special for them to have a drawing of just the two of you!
Go on an Outdoor Adventure
Example: “I love you so much I thought we should go on an awesome outside adventure! But first, we need to get all our gear ready, what do you think?!”
Tips for Love-Filled Outdoor Adventures
- Rain or shine, getting kids outside is always a good idea. Let them know you have a fun scavenger hunt planned. They need to get their “gear” – weather-appropriate clothes, and some things like binoculars, a basket or a bag to “catch” the items. Of course, this is season dependent. However, example items to find and catch could include ticks, rocks, flowers, snowball, pine tree, feather, litter to throw away. You can also hide certain items or toys and provide clues on how to find them. Example: The tiger is hiding near our favorite tree next to a giant snowball and needs us to rescue him!
- If you’re looking for even more ways to get outside, take a look at these 50 Simple Outdoor Activities for Kids!
Treat Your Child to a Late Night Surprise
Example: “I love you so much, and I thought it would be fun to spend a little extra time together today. How about an extra late bedtime?”
Tips to Maintain Boundaries and Show Your Love with Flexible Bedtimes
- Our oldest lives for these nights! After the bedtime routine, and when his younger brothers are fast asleep, we sneak into his room or whisper from the bottom of the stairs for him to come down.
- Make a yummy snack together, watch a movie, play a board game, or even just talk … it’s amazing just how chatty kids become at bedtime.
Mix and match these routines or create your own to fit your schedule and lifestyle! The bottom line is, showing your love this Valentine’s Day (or any other day) doesn’t have to take hours or tons of money. What your child (and most adults) cares about is being thought of and spending quality time with you. No matter what you do, if you show them your undivided attention, they’re going to appreciate it.
In what ways do you show your kids love? I’d love to talk about it in the comments below!
In the meantime, enjoy, and happy love day, friends!