Celebrate the love you share as a family on Valentine’s Day with some special family activities after dinner. Just for this evening, don’t worry about what new skill you can teach your child or what lesson can be learned. “When you think of the best moments you had with a parent, they are never ones in which the parent is teaching a lesson; they are always moments where relationship is key,” says Bonnie Harris, parent educator and Director of Connective Parenting in Peterborough, New Hampshire.
The Family Kitchen
Celebrate Valentine's Day with your family by baking up a storm together in the kitchen. You can make the activity as simple or as elaborate as you like; part of your decision will probably depend on the age of your kiddos. If you're working with toddlers and preschoolers, whip up a batch of heart-shaped crisped rice squares or cut out heart-shaped sugar cookies and decorate them with red and pink icing. If your youngster is approaching her preteen years, spend the evening baking petit fours decorated with tiny icing hearts or gooey fudge brownies with drizzled-on pink, red and white confectioner's sugar icing. The best part of this activity: You can continue with the family fun by indulging in all the scrumptious goodies when you're done.
Make some memories together with an evening full of crafting fun. For something simple, make Valentine's Day cards from construction paper hearts and let your kids create their own artwork on each one. Remember to avoid criticizing or comparing if you have kids of different ages, advises Kristi Miller, a marriage and family therapist intern, family mediator and founder of Solutions in Parenting in Santa Barbara, California. “Focus instead on each child's individuality and developmental stage.” If you're a craft-loving family, making a bouquet of tissue paper flowers to display on the dining room table or a garland of paper heart links to drape across the fireplace mantel may be the perfect family activity. Make the bouquet from layers of small circles of tissue paper, pinched together in the center and wrapped with a craft chenille stick stem. To make the garland of hearts, cut heart shapes with hollow centers from construction paper, tear one edge and link two hearts together. Tape the tear and continue until you have one long, beautiful garland.
A Jar of Heartfelt Notes
Valentine's Day is an opportunity for expressions of love. “One of the most effective ways to ensure a child feels a parent's love is to spend individual time with each child every day,” says Miller. “It doesn't have to be a lot of time, especially given how busy most families are, but it needs to be at least 15 minutes of completely present, focused time.” Spend 15 minutes of one-on-one time together with each of your children on Valentine's Day and help them create some special notes about each other and other family members. Decorate a jar or plastic container together and then place all of the notes in the container. Create some notes of your own and then spend the evening reading aloud all of the kind and loving notes.
Share your family beginnings and a little laugh by telling them all about your early love with a puppet show, starring you and your significant other. Work with your partner to make a little story about the time the two of you first met. Make the puppets ahead of time, create a little puppet stage from two cardboard boxes and make a few props from other pieces of cardboard. If you met at a restaurant, make a few cardboard tables and chairs for your puppets. If your first moments took place in the middle of a park, green cardboard grass and a cardboard soccer net sets the stage for your scene. When evening arrives, have your kiddos sit down and enjoy the show. If your kids are aspiring little actors, tell them the story instead and let them create the puppet theater production for the evening's entertainment.