Happy Valentine’s Day!
I always have big plans for celebrating holidays. Sometimes these plans come close to reality, sometimes they don’t! Once I had kids, I had to learn to alter my Martha Stewart or Disney-perfect plans a bit in order to be successful. Here are some tips to help you enjoy Valentine’s Day with your child.
1. Plan in advance. If you are going to have a special meal, do any prep you can in advance. Get the decorations out and ready a few days in advance. Set the table the night before. If there is any food you can prepare in advance, do it.
2. Lower your expectations. I don’t mean this in a bad way – you should not settle. You should, however, communicate everything! Children, and husbands, are not mind readers. Don’t expect to be pleasantly surprised if you haven’t communicated what you are hoping for. As scary, painful, or foolish as it might feel, stating what you want will get much better results than hoping your family has been looking at Pinterest or paying attention to your needs.
3. Celebrate when you can. If you are not with your child on Valentine’s Day (due to travel, divorce, etc.), remember there is no rule that you have to celebrate on February 14th! One of my favorite Valentine’s Day celebrations was when our oldest daughter was about 6 months old. My husband and I had a busy February 14th, so we planned, in advance, to celebrate on the 15th. Tim had been very generously giving me roses for Valentine’s Day ever since we started dating. This particular year, he came home with 2 dozen roses! One for me and one for our daughter. While I was pleasantly surprised (I love flowers!), I teased that he could be setting an expensive precedent. What if we had more daughters? (We did!) That’s when Tim told me that the flowers were 1/2 off! I decided we should try to celebrate a day late for years to come. Consider this your heads up – I think the stores have caught on… it takes at least 3-5 days for our local stores to reduce the cost of flowers and candy after Valentine’s Day. Now Tim just buys flowers for me to share with our daughters.
4. Be flexible! For years I have been decorating our bedroom doors the night before Valentine’s Day, while everyone is asleep. I hang one streamer for each year my child has celebrated Valentine’s day, and on our bedroom door, I hang one streamer for each year that my husband and I have been celebrating Valentine’s Day as a married couple (21 Valentine’s this year!). I attach paper hearts and Valentine’s stickers to each of the streamers. One streamer will have one heart, another will have two hearts/stickers, the next three, and so on. This year, we have a wonderful Korean exchange student staying with us. My plans were to decorate her door with the correct number of decorated streamers, too.
However, after a busy day full of activities, by the time everyone was in bed, it was almost midnight. While I had thoughtfully saved many of my streamers from the previous year, I realized it was going to take a bit of time to cut 17 ribbons and count & stick hearts and Valentine’s on each of them. I decided I would share some of my daughters’ streamers and some of ours, too. While it wasn’t what I had envisioned, the flexibility allowed me to go to bed much earlier than if I had stuck to my plan. Another great way to be flexible is in the morning. Even though home made heart pancakes and waffles are great, I would recommend using a heart shaped cookie cutter on store bought waffles when you’re in a hurry.
I hope these tips help you enjoy your Valentine’s Day and every other day of the year, too. I would love to hear from you what tips you have to help you enjoy Valentine’s Day with your child(ren).
Don’t Forget to take advantage of my February Special: One-on-One Coaching sessions are only $49
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Does your child have a bad case of the “Gimmes” or the “I-wants”? “Give me this” and “I want that!”
Parents often struggle with providing for their children while keeping their child from feeling entitled or falling into the “spoiled” category. Many parents feel like they are earning enough, so why shouldn’t they provide everything for their children? It’s also easy to want for your children what you didn’t have. Watch out and think twice before you provide everything! Material things end up meaning less if they are easily available.
If you want to break the “Gimmes” or “I-wants”, or if you are lucky enough to be reading this when your child is very young and want to prevent these sneaky creatures from entering your home, you need to have a plan. As a parent, you are in charge. You do not need to be mean, but you do need to think about your priorities and teach them to your children. Will you give them everything they need at any time, or only when you feel they need something? What about things they ‘want’ (the $200 pair of jeans, when you can get very nice jeans for $20-30). Will you provide an allowance and ask your child to provide for herself (clothing, activities, outings)? Will you ask your child to split the cost of the extras (movies, shopping for items that are not needed-just desired, such as his 8th hockey stick)?
If allowances or a demand for new things aren’t the problem but you feel like your child has too many things (notice a big mess around the house or things that get ignored for months?), think about having your child clean out his toy box right before the holidays or his birthday. See if you can find a homeless shelter, women’s shelter or another ‘real-life’ place to take your child to donate the old toys. Help your child understand that these children might not get any toys/clothing if you did not help out. Explain that these children can still be happy and healthy and loved, but their families most likely do not have enough money for fun things or things above and beyond the necessities.
And what about shopping trips to the grocery store or for another person’s birthday? As a parent who needs to take a child on a shopping trip, you face extra challenges than someone shopping alone. I’ll be the first to admit to buying a toy from the $1 section on more than one occasion to entertain my child throughout the shopping trip… See my blog on The Joys (not!) of Shopping with Children for more. If you buy your child something on every shopping trip, he will learn to expect it (and the “Gimmes” will be there in full force). If you give in to a tantrum because he wants something you are not willing to buy, he will learn that throwing a tantrum gets him whatever item he wants.
Some parents have children keep a list of things they want. Every time a child says “I want” something, they are politely told to write it down on the list. Parents review the list with the child close to birthdays, holidays and special occasions to see if the things on the list are still relevant. If they are, they can be shared with relatives or others interested in buying a gift for your child or the child can be encouraged to save and buy the item with her own money.
It’s not too late to get rid of the case of the “Gimmes” or “I-wants.” If there is something your child really wants, have her earn part of the money to pay for the item. Helping a neighbor or doing extra chores around the house can help a young child earn some spending (or saving) money. This is a good practice even when it’s not around the holiday time!