How do I love thee... let me count the ways! When it comes to Valentine's Day, I am all about showing (and not spending on) the people who are special to me that they are loved. Not with big gestures or expensive Hallmark Cards, but with simple and heartfelt acts of kindness that let people know they are special. The crafts, the baking, and of course, the chocolate...here are five simple actions that will make you, your Valentine, and so many people around you feel amazing this Feb. 14!
Tell someone why you love them
There will no doubt be a lot of “I Love You”s floating around on Valentine’s Day, but taking it one step further to tell someone why you love them is key.
Teaching kids to pay a compliment and infuse meaning behind these three little words is a great opportunity for us parents to role model open communication and affirmation.
We’ve started a Valentine’s Day tradition in our home where everyone makes a homemade valentine for one another and writes “I love you because…” It’s so interesting to hear what answers come out of the mouths of kids, and I can’t wait to treasure these valentines for years to come and see how their answers evolve.
And don’t forget to get everyone to write a valentine to themselves too. Teaching kids to love and be proud of themselves is as important as sharing love with others. A reminder that the adults often need too.
Give a hug
Ok, so this one may seem obvious. But I’m talking a “real” hug, the kind that has a therapeutic effect on the mind and body.
The average length of a hug is 3 seconds. But after 20 seconds, the body responds by releasing oxytocin or the “love hormone” – the same chemical released during breastfeeding or other times when a person feels safe, secure and connected to their loved ones.
Increased levels of oxytocin have myriads of health benefits, from lower blood pressure, stress reduction, lower risk of heart disease and more.
So what are you waiting for? Give a Valentine’s Day hug… and don’t let go!
Make personalized Valentines
I love teaching my kiddos that homemade gifts that take time and effort are just as valuable – if not more – than something that comes from a store.
If you have the time to get out the paper, markers, glitter, and glue, personalizing Valentines to each recipient really shows kindness and care. Not to mention the kindness it shows our planet, by cutting down on packaged products that are more likely to be thrown out and creating something valuable that is more likely to be treasured.
Sometimes, my daughter loves to think carefully about what colour each classmate might like, customize her drawings to their interests, and add other personal touches. Sometimes, she instead just opts to write her friends' names herself on the popular Paw Patrol cards. It doesn’t have to be fancy or time-consuming, that's not the point. Just taking that extra bit of time to make each card special goes a long way.
Plus, creating the time and space to get crafty and spend time together is the real Valentine’s Day present that comes with making things with your kids.
Bake something to share
Speaking of making things from scratch, Valentine’s Day and chocolate go hand in hand.
Instead of heading straight to the store, consider spending time together as a family baking some special Valentine’s Day treats.
Baking together is one of my favourite ways to spend time and connect with my kids. Even the youngest ones can get busy (and messy!) in the kitchen, and everyone can enjoy the delicious results.
Taking the homemade route gives you so many options to be kind to your body too – a healthy black bean brownie, or this three-ingredient recipe for a banana and chocolate chip cookie. Or the classic chocolate cupcakes, chocolate cheesecakes, chocolate chip cookies… This year, we're doing hand dipped chocolate marshmallow with extra sprinkles. Yum!
Whatever you choose, make a double batch and hand some out to neighbours as well. We'll be making some extra for an elderly neighbour who lost her Valentine a few years ago and we can’t wait to bring a smile to her face and some cookies to her door.
Make Valentines for strangers
Since you’re already in the swing of things writing dozens of valentines for your children’s classrooms, why not make a few more?
Encourage your kids to choose a group of people who may not be receiving many valentines this year, and make and drop off some Valentines for them together.
A nursing home, kids’ unit of a hospital, shelter, school office or janitorial team, fire or police station are all good options (with permission of course).