by Jan Roberts
Parent Educator and Coach
Every holiday offers the possibility for families to take a break from their fast paced daily routines and enjoy some special family time together. Valentine's Day is especially suited to pausing and telling those we love the most, our family, how life is richly blessed by their unique presence.
Although this day is most often viewed as an opportunity to celebrate romantic love, children should certainly be included in this hearty fun. These enjoyable activities will create new family traditions as well as produce a warm, loving spirit in a family. So gather the red hearts and lacey doilies, and get started!
1. Place valentine books in a basket in the family room to encourage children to read. Sit down and read with them!
2. Set up a table with valentine making supplies such as red construction paper, paper doilies, pink glitter and glue so children can begin to create homemade valentines for special friends. Do this early in February.
3. Send grandparents a handmade valentine with the child's recent photo in the middle. On the outside of the envelope, let your child seal it with a lipstick kiss.
4. Make simple, heart shaped placemats for the entire family. Ask family members to write what they like about each person on their mat. Read during dinner.
5. Tint the morning oatmeal pink, and sprinkle red cinnamon hearts on top, or make heart shaped pancakes, doused with raspberry syrup.
6. Tuck a love note into each child's backpack, along with a valentine pencil and a small baggy of conversation hearts.
7. Help children cut different sized hearts out of a soft sponge. Dip them in red or pink paint, and place on paper bags, white cards and butcher paper, to make charming gift tags, bags and wrapping paper. Tie with red ribbons.
8. Prepare a "red" family dinner to be enjoyed by candlelight sometime around Valentine's Day. Some suggestions: heart-shaped pizza and pepperoni, red jello hearts, red veggies (tomatoes, peppers, radishes, etc.), strawberries dipped in chocolate, heart cupcakes with red sprinkles, pink lemonade or pink grapefruit juice with heart-shaped ice cubes (make with cranberry juice in heart ice cube tray).
9. Share with your children the story of how Mom and Dad met and what they first loved about each other. Display your wedding picture.
10. Pass the love along! Include your children in making valentine cookies, put them on a paper doily tied with a red ribbon and gift tag, and let them take to the neighbors.
11. Use small paper, numbered hearts to lead children on a treasure hunt from place to place in the house. Hide a small gift or a special dessert at the end of the hunt.
12. With lipstick, draw a heart or write words of love on the bathroom mirror for your children to discover when they brush their teeth.
End the day of love with a family group hug, and a red foil-wrapped chocolate candy heart placed on each family member's pillow.
About the Author:
Jan Roberts teaches weekly parenting classes, is a parent coach, and writes a weekly newspaper column entitled "The Parent Coach". She speaks on parenting issues, and conducts family traditions workshops.