Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate all kinds of love. While popular culture makes us believe that Valentine’s Day is only for love-struck couples, it’s a day of love, and that love can be for anyone—it doesn’t have to be just about romantic love.
Valentine’s Day provides a great opportunity to have fun with the family and show your love. It can be a day you share with your whole family, even those not currently in your care. It can provide an opportunity to teach your children about the importance of demonstrating their love and caring for others.
While you will get lots of advice for Valentine’s Day that focuses on love, hearts, and flowers, this article will spotlight what a blended family might do on this special day—a day reserved for showing care and concern.
Use Valentine’s Day to reach out to a former family member with whom you have lost contact:
Use this day to offer an olive branch or build a bridge with an estranged family or former family member. At one point, there were feelings for this person, there was care. It need not be a gift or grand gesture, but consider sending a “nice” valentine’s card to show a spirit of cooperation. Here’s an example:
“Dear ____: I know we’ve had our differences, but on this day, I do remember we shared some great times and memories together. I just wanted to write to you today to wish you a wonderful day in whatever you do and hope that we can work together and be friends in the remaining year.”
Use this Valentine’s Day to catch up with friends and family:
In many blended families, there are relationships that are lost. This day would be a good time to reach out and reconnect with someone once close to your children (and to you). Encourage the children to call Grandma and Grandpa or other family members with whom you’ve lost touch. Send an e-mail to someone you know who might be spending the day alone.
Use Valentine’s Day to show love for your child:
If your children are not with you on this day, send them a little special something and let them know how much you love them. Your children need to hear that they are loved, so use the holiday as an opportunity to tell your child what love means to you. Take this and every occasion you can to tell them how much you love them.
If you do have your children with you, spend some time at the breakfast or dinner table talking about Valentine’s Day and love. You can also ask them questions to get them thinking about family, friendship, and love. What do they love? How do they show their family that they love them? You may be astonished by what they have to share.
Use Valentine’s Day to show love for the family:
Blended families usually must juggle visitation schedules. Whether you are spending Valentine’s Day with your children or not, you can brainstorm a list of your family’s favorite things and plan a special day. For example, you might list going on a neighborhood or nature walk, doing projects, making arts and crafts, eating spaghetti and meatballs, shopping at a farmer’s market, and sharing ice cream. Write those activities up in an agenda and make a plan to follow the suggestions. If you are working on Valentine’s Day or don’t have a visitation scheduled, then plan the agenda and send it in a card if you can’t be together. Your child will love having such a special day to look forward to that weekend or on your next day off.
Use Valentine’s Day to offer or ask for extra visitation time:
Maybe you don’t have your child on Valentine’s Day. Consider asking the other parent for a couple of hours to do something special with your child. If you do have your child on this day, consider offering a couple of hours to the other parent. This very unselfish offer may help to create cooperativeness. It’s likely the other parent will view this very positively, and it may just lead to a more open dialogue.
Use Valentine’s Day to show your love by making good food:
When families merge, they often bring differences in favorite dishes and cultural cuisine. On this Valentine’s Day, spend some time browsing through cookbooks and online sites for recipes you and your family can share. Cook up a special meal that includes dishes from each side of the blended family. If you do not have your children that day, save the recipes for the next visit or make some of these dishes and send them over, if possible.
Use Valentine’s Day to start a new tradition:
Instead of exchanging cards and chocolates, think about starting a new tradition with your new family. Borrow a few ideas from Santa Claus. If your family likes the Elf on the Shelf, then what about Cupid on the Counter (or Cupboard, Cabinet)? Cupid is known for being just as fun-loving and silly. Do you like to countdown to Christmas with small gifts each day or use an Advent calendar? Start a countdown to Valentine’s Day with special notes or sweets to build-up to the big day.
Use Valentine’s Day to show you care for others not related to your family:
If your family is a relatively newly blended family, a great way to bond is by volunteering or making a commitment to volunteer. It doesn’t matter what you choose—a local soup kitchen or shelter, your children’s school, a retirement home, an animal rescue. Research local teams that clean up the environment and get involved. Do something for someone who least expects it. Leave a note on a neighbor’s door. Offer to run errands or do chores for someone who can’t. Send a care package overseas to our troops. If you are not with your children, schedule a call to talk about ways you and they can and have cared for others.
Use Valentine’s Day to share the love of home:
If children are getting settled into a new environment, it is important to make the new home a loving one. Pick interesting spots to leave little notes of love and gratitude around the house; for example, inside your child’s favorite book or in their jacket. Post photos of your family around the house. This will act as a loving and gentle reminder of the fun times you’ve spent together.
Remember that at the heart of Valentine’s Day is the message of showing and receiving love, care, and kindness.
It is the perfect day to provide an opportunity to teach your children about the importance of demonstrating their love and caring for others. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Judy Gilliam is a retired school and district administrator, teacher, and college professor. Her two children and five grandchildren are the inspiration for her debut children’s book, Florence and Her Fantastic Family Tree.