Fun ways to honor the power of love
Let’s face it: when you’re not in a relationship but are raising children on your own, Valentine’s Day can be incredibly irritating. To begin with, you have to endure the media hype, which focuses on romantic love in all its saccharine expectations of fine dining, roses, champagne, and chocolate. For many Solo Moms, the “Hallmarkification” of February 14 can get under our skin. Add the torture of helping your child stuff valentines for every classmate (even Jimmy, who steals your kid’s lunch), and it becomes another one of those awkward days—like New Year’s Eve and Father’s Day—that Solo Moms just have to get through and move on.
But it doesn’t have to be that way! I encourage you to laugh off the commercial reminders of what we don’t have in our lives and instead focus on the love we do have.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., preached, “Love is the most durable power in the world.” By celebrating and honoring that durable love, Solo Moms can enjoy the essence of what Valentine’s Day should really be about. Here are some tips to help you honor the power of love and have yourself a happy Valentine’s Day.
1. Throw a slumber party with your kids. It’s relaxing, fun, and silly. Make popcorn, heart cookies, or heart pancakes. Throw pillows, watch a cheesy movie, play some board games, and crash in the same room. A slumber party offers a great excuse to snuggle and connect in a fun, low-key setting. Kids love sleepovers, and what hardworking mom doesn’t like hanging out in her PJs?
2. Volunteer. It’s hard to feel sorry for yourself when you’re helping others who have it much worse. All of us who’ve given to others by volunteering have reaped the satisfaction and love that it brings. Include the kids, and everyone in the family will carry the meaning of giving in their hearts.
3. Let your kids make dinner for you. Day in and day out, we’re the ones in charge of getting food on the table, and it gets old. One of my favorite family traditions is when the kids play “restaurant.” I always feel adored and loved when they fuss over serving Mom a great meal. Over time, these homemade dinners have morphed from an apple and peanut butter with water in a sippy cup to quite impressive pasta and vegetable concoctions, complete with wine glasses and folded napkins. Stock the cupboard and fridge with some of your favorite treats for an added touch of pampering.
4. Reward your support network. Most Solo Moms rely on a network of other parents to help them maintain the work/family balance. Imagine the love and appreciation that will flow your way if you invite those parents’ kids to a Valentine’s Day party, freeing them up to go to dinner or a movie. (Your kid or kids will be psyched, too.) I usually order pizza, decorate cupcakes, and then throw a dance party—nothing complicated. The next time you need to call in a favor, you’ll be all set!
5. Make a music video about love. Pick music with a great message, such as “All You Need Is Love” by the Beatles, and work with your kids to script (and I use that word loosely) a video. You’ll find this project fun to plan, to film, and especially to watch. I know my kids are obsessed with watching their own hilarity. And imagine being able to show this cinematic masterpiece at your child’s wedding some day!
6. Get that pet. Have you been promising the kids a fish, a gerbil, or even a kitten? Valentine’s Day is the perfect day to expand the household. Nothing is more exciting than starting to care for and love another family member. Just don’t get two bunnies!
7. Go on an adventure. Take your children on an outing that involves an element of adventure, such as zip-lining, going on a steep hike, or strolling through the woods. There may be some complaining at the start, but a shared adventure will strengthen your bond. Tackling a moderately risky expedition brings out mutual respect and love. Go for it!
8. Visit an elder. Is there a relative or neighbor who could benefit from some valentines and good cheer? Organize an outing that is sure to bring a smile to the recipient’s face and remind you and your kids of the sense of fulfillment that comes from connecting with others.
9. Play “truth or dare.” There’s something about learning secrets and taking dares that bonds this game’s participants. Your kids will think it’s especially exciting if you step outside your comfort zone and disclose new information or take a dare that they would never expect. Try it—I dare you!
Finally, even if you don’t go for any of my previous suggestions, I would like every Solo Mom to follow this last one. I mean it:
10. Be your own valentine. Buy a half bottle of your preferred bubbly, a small box of your most-loved chocolate, and a couple of your favorite flowers. After the kids go to bed, draw a hot bath, sip champagne, and forget about Cupid! Hold up your glass and say, “Happy Valentine’s Day to me!” Self-love brings rich rewards, and it’s exactly what Solo Moms need every single day of the year.
This article was originally published in Working Mother.
Dr. Marika Lindholm founded ESME.com to ignite a social movement of Solo Moms. A trained sociologist, Marika taught courses on inequality, diversity, and gender at Northwestern University for over a decade. After a divorce left her parenting two children on her own, she realized Solo Moms lacked much-needed resources, support, and connection. She built her social platform, Empowering Solo Moms Everywhere, out of this combination of academic and personal experience. Marika is also the coeditor of We Got This: Solo Mom Stories of Grit, Heart, and Humor, a frank, funny, and unflinchingly honest anthology—written by 75 Solo Mom writers, including Amy Poehler, Anne Lamott, and Elizabeth Alexander—that celebrates Solo Moms: their tenacity, courage, and fierce love for their children. Marika can be reached at email@example.com.
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