One of my high school teachers had a Valentine’s Day tradition that impacted me positively, and that I will never forget. He referred to February as the “Loooooove Month,” and spent the entire month (not just Valentine’s Day) making a special effort to recognize and appropriately show love for his students. Part of this involved encouraging us to express our love and appreciation for our classmates.
This tradition taught me that all types of love are important, not just the romantic kind, and that we can intentionally show love for others all year round.
Parents have a lot of power in the home to create an atmosphere of love and caring between family members. Intentionally and consistently demonstrating a variety of ways to express love creates a safe environment in which each family member can grow and develop, and teaches children what it looks like to have a healthy relationship. Here are some ways you can create a culture of caring in your home and express your love for your children during “Love Month”:
1. Write love notes
Do you get as excited as I do when you get a letter in the mail? There’s something inherently special about getting a handwritten note that can make you feel so loved and thought of. Writing love notes to your kids is a physical and tangible way to show you care about them.
Notes don’t have to be long (or even written with words—pictures work great, too!). I remember one Valentine’s Day when my mom taped paper hearts to my headboard with single words and short phrases on them telling me qualities that she loved about me. This brief yet meaningful expression of love has stuck with me all these years, and is something I have started doing for my own children as part of our Valentine’s Day celebrations. So, find a way to write notes that work best for you and your family, and use it to express your love any time of year.
Check out this cute Instagram Reel that shows how one mom uses personalized mailboxes to help encourage emotional expression and connection in her family.
2. Spend one-on-one time together
Research has shown the importance of spending one-on-one time with our children for helping them build confidence and self-worth. When we give a child our full attention, it strengthens our bond with them and helps them know that they are important to us. As a busy mom myself, I know it isn’t always easy to find room in your schedule for one-on-one time; we have to make the time for it!
Find meaningful ways to intentionally interact with your kids every day, even if it’s for just a few minutes. This can be at bed time when you read a story together, at the kitchen counter to share a snack after school, on an outing to get ice cream, or in the car on the way to basketball practice. However you choose to spend one-on-one time, make sure that you are fully focused on your child and take the opportunity to really connect with them.
3. Play “Secret Service”
A great way to cultivate love in your home is to practice serving each other. And a fun way to make this extra special during “Love Month” is to turn service into a game! Playing “Secret Service” involves trying to do service for someone without them noticing. This is a great way to get the whole family involved in caring for one another.
Encourage your kids to notice the needs of the other people in your home and find ways they can help meet those needs. Maybe one of sister’s daily chores is to unload the dishwasher. Could brother secretly unload it for her without her knowing that it was him? Can dad make brother’s bed? Could little sister pick up her toys without having to be asked? Get creative in the ways that you serve one another and share your love without needing to be given anything in return!
4. Validate their feelings
An important aspect of love is feeling seen and valued by someone. One of the best ways that we can help our kids know that we see and value them is by recognizing and validating their feelings. This will likely mean slowing down and practicing your best listening skills. Instead of jumping in right away with advice or ideas for fixing your child’s sadness, disappointment, frustration, etc., take a few moments to connect with what they are experiencing.
Use age-appropriate language to reflect back to them what they are expressing. For a toddler, this could look something like saying, “I can see that you’re feeling really angry right now. It’s hard when we have to leave the park and you don’t feel ready!” For a teenager, you might say, “Feeling left out is the worst. It must have been so disappointing when you weren’t invited to that party.”
Showing empathy for your kids in this way doesn’t always come easy, and you don’t have to be perfect at it. But the more you practice, the more your kids will recognize that they can come to you with their big problems and feelings, and that you will love them through it all, “Love Month” or not.
5. Include them in your Valentine’s Day celebrations
Finally, remember that celebrating Valentine’s Day doesn’t only have to be for couples—love is for everyone! In the days surrounding February 14th, find ways that you can celebrate Valentine’s Day as a family. Create traditions that make the holiday special and make each member of your family feel loved. Make a special meal together (pink heart-shaped pancakes and heart-shaped pizza have both been V-Day hits at our house), include the kids in your gift exchange, send your teenager an embarrassing singing valentine to be delivered during class, have a love song dance party in your living room, etc. Have fun together and show by example that all types of love are important and deserve to be celebrated.
I hope these ideas help bring you and your family closer together during the month of February, and all year round. Happy “Love Month!”