Sometime before Valentine’s Day every year, people start thinking about how to show their loved ones how they feel. Of course, we try to do it all year ‘round (and some boycott the holiday entirely for that reason)—but the world around us seems to primarily focus on February 14.
I’d like to propose a happy medium: how about if we use Valentine’s Day as the impetus for sharing our affection as an all-year habit? Expert James Clear say that it takes 66 days on average to form a new habit, so let’s get you started with 33 days of ideas to start the connection. Once you have the first half (the 33) under your belt, you can see what worked well for your family and continue it from there. No worries, though–if the thought of doing these things every day for 33 days in a row overwhelms you, spread them out. What matters in creating a habit is that you time your events consistently. Try “every Friday afternoon,” for example.
The spirit of Valentine’s isn’t just about the holiday, of course; it’s about everyday relationships with our families. It’s about raising kids in positive, loving homes where they feel cherished and special no matter the time of year.
Ways St. Valentine Can Show Love Every Day
St. Valentine is you, dear parent or care giver. The real St. Valentine hasn’t been around since 269 AD, so it’s pretty much on us to go back in time–and bring this day of love forward to present day for our children.
Of course, some think of gifts for valentines. And it’s fine to give your child an impromptu gift, no matter how small (afflinks). Gifts, after all, are one of the five love languages, and some children do view gifts as signs of affection from the people they love.
This list doesn’t focus on gifts for the holiday, however–it’s all about connecting with the people we love.
- Aim for 12 hugs each day to thrive–for the non-huggers, start small and work up.
- Let your child plan a meal for the family without judgment.
- Paint a picture together.
- Perform a random act of kindness together.
- Have a picnic together (even if it’s on the kitchen floor!).
- Pick up your child from school an hour early one day “just because”.
- Offer turn-down service like a fancy hotel and leave a chocolate on your child’s pillow.
- Say “yes” to the request for the extra bedtime book.
- Let your children hear you pray for them individually.
- Designate a “screen-free day” and focus only on your child (save your screens for after their bedtime).
- Look at your child’s baby pictures together.
- Put a Valentine’s Day card in your child’s lunchbox every day of the week (homemade is best!).
- Celebrate your child’s half birthday (or monthly birthday date) with special time together.
- Bring back a lost routine, like a lullaby or story they haven’t heard for awhile.
- Leave a paper heart near their toothbrush in the morning, or in their backpack, or inside their shoe—or all of the above.
- Arrange to have someone far away (who your child misses and loves) to visit or call as a surprise.
- Write your child a love letter and leave it under their pillow.
- Play your kids’ favorite songs to start or end their day.
- Make a string of hearts with qualities you love about your child and use it as a decoration on their bedroom door.
- Complete a task for which they’re normally responsible—without asking anything in return.
- Bake a “because I love you” cake.
- For one night only, throw bedtime out the window; let them decide when they’re tired.
- Do something that will make them laugh (decorate the kitchen from top to bottom with their socks!).
- Enjoy a “yes day” together where you just have fun and go with the flow.
- Make a Valentine’s Day card for kids or older adults down the block and leave it in their mailboxes.
- Celebrate a holiday that’s not Valentine’s Day but keep the focus on others who’ve shown great love (Martin Luther King Jr. Day, for example).
- Plant flowers that your child chooses for your garden or window sill.
- Make Valentine’s Day cards out of candy hearts with glue and construction paper.
- Leave valentines appreciation notes on any day except February 14 — show others that love abounds and that we don’t need a special holiday for it!
- Enjoy a day at home together without focus on chores or responsibilities; just play games and have fun.
- Draw a heart with chalk on a washable surface of your home (test a small area first!) or sidewalk, and dedicate that space to your children.
- Have your children search for many “clues” around the house about somewhere special you’re planning to take them (even if it’s “just” the playground!).
- Go on a scavenger hunt to search for examples of love in the people your kids see out in public–who’s being kind? Who’s helping someone else? Make it a collaborative game and have a “prize” when you find 10 examples of kindness in the world.
For children, Valentine’s Day isn’t about gifts or flowers. It’s about finding the way to their hearts.
That’s what they need every day of the year. Connection isn’t bought; it’s made. And it’s certainly not made only on February 14; it’s always a work in progress. That’s one of the many wonderful things about love: it’s among the very few gifts of which we can never have too much. Every day can feel like a holiday when kids’ emotional cups are full of connection with the people who matter most to them—their forever Valentine. You.