In a conversation with two elementary-aged children, I asked them to share their thoughts with me about Valentine’s Day. Even though I know these young girls to be kind, conscientious, and incredibly respectful, I was surprised by some of their answers. I thought, for sure, that candy and presents would play some role in their vision of the perfect Valentine’s Day. I was, however, very mistaken.

hearts and arrow

When asked what they like about Valentine’s Day, they quickly responded with, “It’s fun, the decorations are pretty, everyone is in a happy mood and being kind to each other.” When asked what they dislike about the holiday, the answer that stood out the most was from an 8-year-old. “I don’t like it when you get those cards where they fill in the blank with your name. I wish they were more thoughtful.”

Her idea of the perfect Valentine’s Day was one where everyone writes messages on cards that are tailored specifically for the recipient. She prefers spending Valentine’s Day at home with her family because they make cards for each other and get to read the loving notes that their mom and dad wrote to them. When asked what they think about first when it comes to Valentine’s Day, they respectively replied, “Hearts!” and “Cupid’s arrow!”

Valentine’s Day means something different to everyone. Age, relationship status, and whether you have children are all factors in what February 14th means to you. I think we could all learn a valuable lesson from these two girls. Valentine’s Day is about togethernessthoughtfulness, and love.

Here are a few tips that can help you focus on what matters every day – connecting.

Family

  • Hide love notes in your child’s backpack for them to find throughout the day. It could be as simple as a smiley face.
  • Go on a Valentine’s Day hike. Look for heart shapes found in nature.
  • Cook a family dinner together and let each family member contribute to the meal.
  • Let each family member share an appreciation for someone else during the meal.
  • Share handmade Valentines with thoughtful and personal messages.
  • Give your family love to others. Donate your time to an organization.

Friends 

  • Give a gift or card to a friend.
  • Meet friends for lunch or dinner.
  • Cook a meal with your close friend. Take time to decorate the table.
  • Attend a candle making class.
  • Plan a movie night together.
  • Enjoy a spa day together.
  • Surprise your friend with flowers.
  • Plan a pajama party.

Couples 

  • Have a conversation with your partner about expectations. Decide what you would enjoy doing together, and then it can be as simple or elaborate as you both choose.
  • Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be about reservations at crowded restaurants, roses, and a box of chocolates. A night in by the fireplace watching a movie and cooking together can be much more romantic.
  • You could also try doing something a little out of the ordinary. Plan a day or evening doing a new activity and share in the experience together. Try a couple’s yoga class.
  •  Slow down and enjoy simply being together.

Self-Love

Valentine’s Day is about showing the ones you love how important they are, so taking care of yourself might be just what you need.

  • Do yoga or meditate. Listen to a guided meditation on self-love.
  • Read that book that’s been sitting on the shelf for too long.
  • Unplug from social media for the day.
  • Watch a movie you’ve wanted to see.
  • Spend time in nature.
  • Finish that project that’s been awaiting your attention.
  • Take yourself for a massage.
  • Write a letter to a friend that lives in another city.
  • Treat yourself to flowers.

Celebrating Valentine’s Day can look different for everyone, and it doesn’t have to be a holiday for kids and couples only. Every year, on February 14th, take some time and celebrate love in whatever way you choose.

Lori Lite is the founder of Stress Free Kids and has authored 12 books. Stress Free Kids: A Parent’s Guide to Helping Children Build Self-Esteem, Manage Stress, and Reduce Anxiety has been named a Best Stress Management Book of All Time. Angry Octopus Color Me Happy, Color Me Calm has been awarded the Mom’s Choice Award. Lori’s content is featured in hundreds of media outlets, including CBS News, CNN Living, WebMD, The New York Times, Family Circle, and Parenting Magazine.