Heart Day is for Kids, Too

If you’re anything like us, Valentine’s Day took on a whole new meaning when kiddos entered the mix. Roses? Those thorns can hurt, and before you know it they’re wilted and dying. A romantic restaurant dinner? It’s a nightmare getting a babysitter on the most cut-throat, high demand night of the year. Sexy lingerie and Mommy/Daddy dirty dancing? Very funny (yawn).

But wait; all is not lost. Once you’ve finished writing the names on those endless class Valentines, here are some tips to make it a super heartwarming day and let everyone join in the fun.

Call the day “Love it Forward”, and create opportunities for you and your kids to express gratitude and pass it on. Make it all about random acts of kindness. Pay (secretly) for the groceries of someone in line at the market who seems like they could use the help. Smile and say hello instead of rushing by your fellow commuters. Give blood. Deliver a basket of essential toiletries to an elderly neighbor. Pick up a supersize box of protein bars and distribute them to the homeless in your town. Put in a call to a lonely friend you’ve been meaning to talk to … just to say hi. You get the idea. No matter what your resources, your family can make the world a little bit better.

Pick up some temporary heart tattoos (like from tattoofun.com) and go crazy. Slap ’em on everyone from the baby to your teen, and then some. Offer them to strangers, your child’s teacher, your boss, anyone and everyone. Nothing says Valentine’s Day like a fat little cupid on your shoulder.

Make LOVE the theme of the day. From “I love breakfast because …” to “5 things I love about bedtime”, take turns talking about what pulls at your heart strings all day long. Don’t forget to leave room for what’s lovable about each other.

Get everyone to pitch in for a heart-y dinner. Divide tasks and dishes and give everyone a job. Heart shaped turkey burgers, red mashed potatoes (or ruby sweets for the real deal), baby carrots to make heart shapes — even the youngest among us can get in the game. Make sure there’s lots of red and pink decor to complete the scene.

Cuddle on the couch with the sappy, love-sick DVD of your choice. Finding Nemo, Princess Bride, Anastasia, Shrek, Spaceballs, I could go on and on, but I’m sure you have your own favorites. Include some conversation hearts and Valentine’s snacks and Family Heart Day will be complete.

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Ellen and Rachel are two old friends and “expert” mamas—one a pediatrician and one a family therapist—with fifty years of parenting experience between them.

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