You might think that Valentine’s Day was created by a greeting card company to make more money. Or you see it as a modern interpretation of a bloody Roman holiday. Maybe it’s just another annoying day when you feel obligated to do something. Regardless of your feelings, there’s no denying that Valentine’s Day celebrations are concreted as rituals in modern-day America.
And taking on those celebrations as a parent can be a royal pain. Sometimes those time-honored traditions can even begin to feel a little hollow. If you love the holy trinity of flowers, chocolate, and dinner out, that’s great. But if they’re not your thing and you don’t even have the ability to do all of that in the first place? Ugh, next holiday please.
Don’t give up though! Even if you don’t have extra money for a babysitter, your kids scared off all the eligible babysitters through a series of Home Alone pranks, or you hate the idea of paying through the nose to spend Valentine’s evening in a crowded restaurant with every other couple in your city, you have other options for celebrating.
Cook dinner together
Put the kids to bed, turn on some music, and cook something you don’t get to have often. Or make PB&Js, whatever floats your boat. I don’t judge.
My husband and I have done this for at least the past 7 or so years. It’s actually one of my favorite things that we do. Everyone gets caught up in the fast-paced routines of life. One parent cooking and the other leading homework. Speeding through dinners to get kids in bed. Collapsing on the couch to finally watch that one episode we’ve been waiting all week to watch.
Cooking together gives you the chance to slow down and actually be present with one another. Don’t limit it to just cooking together, either. Plan what you’re going to eat and go shopping together, too, even if it means you have to bring the kids along for the trip. Plus, with this option there’s no dealing with weird Valentine’s Day set menus.
Put together a puzzle
This can go one of two ways. Either you’ll get the sides put together, a few middle pieces, and then call it a night and head to more, er, vigorous Valentine’s Day recreation. Or you’ll accuse your significant other of hoarding the pieces you need and end the night early. I highly recommend you do not go with the second option.
Same protocol goes here as with cooking together. Get those kids in bed first. It’s also another great opportunity to spend some one-on-one time together. Time that isn’t focused around your offspring, chores, money, or how your significant other keeps putting forgetting to put on a new roll of toilet paper. (You can let go of that for one day, right?)
Or Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, whatever streaming service it. Going out to the movies is fun, but honestly kinda pricey and not always worth it. On one of my rare date nights out with my husband, I sat next to a couple who were obviously on a very awkward first date. Although entertaining more entertaining than the movie we were there to see, the guy farted the entire. Freaking. Movie. I’m talking toxic gas releases that had me gagging. Gagging. I’m guessing there was no follow-up date.
So get the kiddos in bed, pop some popcorn, bust out the good chocolate, and watch a movie in the comfort of your own gas-free home. You can even try making your own stove top popcorn, which is not only insanely easy but also highly customizable to your favorite flavors. Keep your phones out-of-reach, because nothing is worse than trying to spend time together only to realize your significant other is 30 scrolls deep on their Facebook feed.
We get fed a certain idea of what Valentine’s Day celebrations or even romantic gestures in general should look like. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with big romantic gestures and hot date nights, it’s also important to recognize that romance takes a lot of different forms. When you’ve got nearly a decade of marriage and a couple of kids under your belt, romance can be a pot of coffee already brewed and waiting for you in the morning. A movie at home on the couch. Making your favorite dinner together and dancing to early 2000s rap.
And yeah, your kids will probably wake up during your at-home Valentine’s Day celebrations. My method? Threaten to take away video games the next day and send their cute butts back to bed. You can watch a movie with them tomorrow.