Spread A Little Love Today
I know there are lots of mamas out there who could take it or leave it. There’s a whole lot of brokenness in our world. Broken hearts. Broken dreams. Broken bodies. And days like Valentines Day can be a stark reminder of all that is not as it should be. My heart truly hurts for those broken situations.
As a college student, I was single on every Valentines Day. In my discontentment with my status, I sat around with other single friends despising the happy couples in our lives, sometimes even organizing a pity party, usually involving an extra large cookie cake.
Once I fell in love and my relationship status changed to “wife”, I found that the restlessness didn’t necessarily go away.
My new husband was overwhelmed as I heaped expectations on him to make me feel loved in a Hollywood, “you complete me” kind of way. Valentines Day still felt broken because I was approaching it with a “fill ME up” attitude.
Friends, Valentine’s Day is an incredible opportunity to look around and ask “How can I love my people well?”
And as mothers, we all have at least one who depends on us to do just that on the daily. One of our greatest roles in the lives of our kids is that of encourager, supporter and safe place.
There are all kinds of things in this world that will tear them down, invalidate them, and invoke fear, so when they walk back into the walls of our homes, they certainly look to us, their safe place, as a way to be built back up. With Valentines Day coming up, I thought I’d share some of the ways that we fill up our kids’ “love cups” in our home, and also, ways that we teach them to love the people around us. These ideas are good all year long, but what better way to teach our kids that Valentine’s Day is best when it’s focus is on others, not ourselves.
Inside the walls of your home
These are all the rage on Pinterest. Some years I do them and some years I don’t have the capacity for it. This year, I printed the words “Things I love about you” on cardstock and taped it to the outside of each of their doors. Each night after they go to bed, I put a new heart for them to read in the morning when they wake up.
Think Easter egg hunt, but with paper hearts. Each kid has their own color hearts to find in the backyard (or wherever you choose to do this). I like to write a secret message on their hearts with one word per heart and let them find all the hearts and put them together to form their secret message. It’s a great way to let them burn off some energy outside doing something a little different.
Pro tip: We do a “hunt” for all the major holidays. (Christmas: non-breakable ornaments, Thanksgiving: paper turkey feathers, etc.) The kids also enjoy re-hiding their items themselves, which keeps them busy even longer.
Sibling love notes
My kids love drawing pictures for me, their friends and for each other. Target has these cute mailboxes in their dollar section right now that you can put in a central area of your home for them to “deliver” their pictures, love notes and affirmations. You can also achieve the same effect with brown paper bags that have stickers on them. It doesn’t need to be fancy or cost money to achieve the same level of anticipatory excitement of “getting mail”.
Each member of the family gets to pick a meal that they love and I cook it for the whole family. We spend that mealtime sharing things that we all love about that one person. Do one entire meal per person so that no back-and-forth competitions develop.
Pro tip: Costco is selling adorable heart-shaped ravioli or you could shape pizza dough into a heart for a festive touch to your meal.
In Our Neighborhood
Grab a bucket and fill it up with sidewalk chalk. Go on a walk through your neighborhood and allow your kids to leave encouraging drawings and messages on the sidewalk. They can be simple and direct “Have a wonderful day” or funny “You are special….yes you…I’m talking to you”. You can call it a Chalk Walk.
The sky is the limit for fun things to leave for your neighbors to show them that you value and care for them. Anonymously leave a flower with a Valentine card attached. Bake cookies or other sweet treats and deliver them. Notes of encouragement. Gift bags. A balloon. If you have an older adult who lives alone on your street, this will light up their eyes in a magical kind of way.
Invite them in
If you live near a single mom (or single dad), invite them and their children over on Valentines night to spend the evening with your family. If they’re dreading the spending the holiday alone, they’ll likely take you up on it!
Beyond our boundaries
Some kids do really well with random acts of kindness to strangers. I love giving the kids a stack of Valentines printables to give out at their own discretion. They can give Valentines to grocery store employees, the mailman, UPS/Fedex/Amazon driver, dry cleaner, trash man, church nursery workers, anyone they choose.
Another way to love on a stranger…the next time you’re at an indoor play gym, anonymously pay for someone else’s kid to play.
You can also call your local fire station and ask about dropping off a special delivery. Our guys happily accepted a batch of cookies that we whipped up for them, but call first to see if they’d prefer prepackaged items to stock up their supply.
And lastly, if you have a partner or spouse, don’t forget about him. A little lipstick message on the mirror or some texts throughout the day to let him know you’re thinking of him will go a really long way.
Our children feel empowered when they realize that they have the ability to love their neighbors, their friends and one another well. They won’t always do it perfectly and that’s ok. Show them that Valentines Day, and everyday, can be about facing outwards and loving people well. Love multiplies. There’s always room for more.
And how amazing would it be if it rippled out across our community in a brand new way through this new generation.
Please share in the comments how you spread love on a day to day basis!