Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite holidays. I love seeing men on the street holding bouquets of flowers. I think all food looks cuter heart-shaped! A lot about Valentine’s Day has changed for me through the years. It’s been some time since my single days of girls’ dinner parties and Valentine’s Day pillow fights. First, my man came along, and now my little man is here, too. But that doesn’t mean Valentine’s Day has to take the back burner. Here are three ways Valentine’s Day is different after kids, in a good way, and one way Valentine’s Day will never change.
It’s not just about the two of you anymore.
Yes, Valentine’s Day is not just about you and your partner anymore. You can and should still have that special date. But with a bigger family, there is more love to go around! You also get to celebrate as a family. This could include both you and your spouse getting individual time with your child(ren) and celebrating the unique parent/child dynamic you each enjoy. You also get to celebrate Valentine’s Day as one family unit. Check out family-friendly events and bring back childhood staples like drugstore valentines and pink punch. Celebrating Valentine’s Day as a family is romantic because, in addition to celebrating your true love, you are celebrating the family your shared love created.
You’re also teaching your child about relationships with others. Valentine’s Day is a good conversation starter about how the way we treat each other can make others feel special, loved, and included. And both your relationship with your spouse and with your child is modeling love and relationships in ways that will shape them profoundly for years to come.
You get creative
My husband recently delighted me with an “I Love You” message written in the shower using our son’s bathtime foam alphabet letters. Cute, right? I won’t sugar coat it; life after kids is busier, but there is still room for romance. They say necessity breeds creativity, and part of finding time for romance with kids around is maximizing the time and resources you do have. The results can be unexpected and inspiring.
Be creative about what a date looks like. A date day at a cafe or over ice cream sundaes can be just as romantic as dinner reservations at the hottest new restaurant if it suits your schedule or lifestyle better now. Even a simple walk, one of my husband and my favorite things to do together, is a date if you are intentional about focusing on your time together and checking in with each other beyond the day to day tasks of parenthood.
Valentine’s Day with kids also literally gets creative with crafts or baking projects. Break out the scissors, paint, flour, or artistic medium of choice. This gives you and your child an occasion to be playful and hands-on together. It’s also a great gifting opportunity for the grandparents!
Your love has grown up
Yes, your love for and relationship with your partner changes after kids, but you don’t have to look at it like the cliched tired, lazy, and unenthusiastic love some make it out to be. Your love has matured. It can show up in quiet moments, big and small, like washing the dishes, encouraging each other’s professional pursuits, and caring for aging parents. That’s the stuff we really wished for as singletons when we said we wanted someone to grow old with. Growing old with someone does not mean being stuck in one place and time.
So if your Valentine’s Day plans after kids aren’t as exciting as they used to be, talk about it. Is a quieter more comfortable celebration what you both want, or did you fall into it? What do you find romantic and exciting these days, and how can you make space in your lives for it? Staying connected and communicating your feelings and expectations will make you stronger partners and in turn stronger parents. Your Valentine’s Day and your marriage can be what you want to make it, which brings me to one way Valentine’s Day is the same after kids. . .
You celebrate your way
On our last Valentine’s Day before our son was born, my husband and I got stuck in miserable traffic. I don’t remember what our original plans were, but out of necessity we quickly changed gears and ended up at a hole in the wall Thai restaurant. We cluttered our table with a family style parade of dishes, and I ate to my bulging baby bump’s content. We remember that meal fondly because it was more “us” than any traditional Valentine’s Day expectations. And that’s what makes a Valentine’s Day meaningful – to celebrate in a way that is unique you as a couple (even if that means not celebrating at all!). A dozen red roses and a box of chocolates is not cliche if that’s what you like. Embrace the classic or unconventional, sweet or sultry, and budget-friendly or extravagant style that rings true to you as a couple. Since becoming parents, you’ve changed a lot as individuals and as a couple. But don’t forget, you’re still you.