baking

When Your Toddler is Your Valentine

Growing up, I was always giddy about Valentine’s Day. Yes it was totally awesome to wrap up a shoe box in sparkly pink paper and have prepubescent boys shove little notes in that said stuff like, “I like your hair” or, “Want to share my cheese?” But my parents always went out of their way to make me feel special on Valentine’s Day and that’s what I looked forward to the most.

My mom, who worked full-time, would stay up late on Erev Valentine’s Day and melt chocolate into little plastic heart-shaped trays. Then she would wrap each piece in red and pink foil and put them in a little box with whatever small present she had chosen that year (slap bracelets are so AWESOME). Even my Dad, who I’ve had a tepid relationship with at best, always put flowers and a card on my bed on Valentine’s Day. When I was away at college it was the only piece of mail I ever received from him but, sure enough, each year during the second week in February I’d see an envelope with his chicken scratch on the front and a card inside declaring no matter how old I was, I would always be his Valentine.

Since becoming a Mama I’ve decided to embrace the day with treats that I can make at home. Last year I made brownies with Oreo cookies in the center and chocolate sea salt truffles. This year I made pink zebra-striped peanut butter blossoms and homemade peppermint patties. My toddler even helped me with some Valentine’s Chex Mix. It is a lot of effort (I would advise against making candy if you haven’t done it before. I curse like a drunken sailor every time I do it) and if you’re not the baking type, you could do something as simple as Valentine’s (strawberry) milk and heart-shaped pancakes. It’s just about making the day a little more special for your kiddos. I like to remember how happy I was to unwrap those foil-wrapped chocolates, and while I didn’t grow up Jewish and many of the things we do as a family now are new, it’s nice that I can still pass down fun traditions that I did grow up with.

I can’t wait until my son is a little older and we can make a pink and red paper chain together or decorate his Valentine’s box. I hope he grows up feeling special on Valentine’s Day regardless of whether or not he has a girlfriend, because he’ll always have us. I think when you take the holiday and separate it from the commercialization, it’s just nice to feel special on a Tuesday afternoon smack dab in the middle of winter. And pink cookies always help.

Here are a few more ideas for how to make your kids Valentine’s Day special:

Dollar bin mailboxes with love notes

Six ways to do Valentine’s Day with preschoolers

Valentine lunches

Tamara Reese

Tamara Reese, MPH, CHES is a stay-at-home Mama and consultant in the field of Maternal and Child Health. She is a contributing editor to Kveller and her work has been published in academic journals, La Leche League USA, Brain, Child Magazine and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Tamara lives in Pittsburgh with her husband, two boys and ginger-baby daughter. Her passions include child injury prevention, gentle parenting, and breastfeeding advocacy. #YouAreAGoodMama

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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