Valentine's Day, now celebrated not only at home and at school but also at every extracurricular a kid is involved in, has gotten big. Where a foldable Valentine from CVS may have cut it when you were a kid (BIG bonus if there was an off-brand tootsie roll taped inside) there now seem to be a whole set of things we "have" to do.
Sure, it feels good to make our kids feel good and it can be fun to make the holidays special but, if all your hard work's not bringing you some major joy, it's probably time to cut it out.
This Valentine's Day feel free to skip obsessing about what you “should" do and keep it simple by crossing these chores off the list.
1. You don't have to buy your kid a Valentine's Day outfit
In order to be a good parent this Valentine's Day you don't have to buy your baby a “my first valentines" onesie. Your daughter doesn't need ruffle bottom pants. Your son is not required to wear a “little heartbreaker" shirt. No one needs a bow or a bow tie or anything in any specific shade or red or white or pink. Sibling sets (even twins!) don't need to match or coordinate or even look half decent standing next to one another.
On February 14th, in order to be a good parent your child should wear clothes, something weather appropriate if they'll cooperate. Shoes are a bonus.
2. You don't have to craft anything
You don't need to paint your baby's feet and try to angle them just right as you press them to paper so they make a little heart you can Instagram and toss in their keepsake box. You don't have to glue googley eyes or pom-poms or shaped cut-outs onto anything at all. You can leave the glitter tucked away and the colored pencils in their case.
This Valentine's Day, in order to be a good parent you should compliment your kid's art. Or hang something they made on the fridge. Or look at the “art" they brought home from school for more than five seconds before hiding it under yesterday's paper in the recycle bin.
3. You don't have to bake a special treat
Your kids don't need to wake up to pancakes in the shape of hearts. They don't need a pink smoothie or a sprinkled cupcake. Their friends don't need caramel corn wrapped in red cellophane with a handmade tag that says “you make my eyes POP!!!" They don't even need a Valentine's Day little Debbie in their lunchbox. This February 14th your kids should eat. Regular food is fine.
4. You don't have to have a photo session
This Valentine's Day you don't have to photograph anything to be a good parent. You don't need to book a session with a photographer, you don't need to “hurry up as mini sessions are filling fast!" There's no need to strip your baby to their diaper in cover them in lipstick kisses or dress your toddler in a tutu and cupid wings. You don't have to shop for coordinating-but-not-matching family outfits for your session on the farm or pick out the perfect boots for your snapshots on the train tracks.
This Valentine's Day, if you're worried that your kid won't have access to their childhood memories, pull up Facebook and remember that you've been posting their picture online since they were a fetus. Take comfort in the fact that your timeline is easier for them to take to college than any sort of baby book.
5. You don't have to be involved at all in the class party
You don't have to send in snacks. You don't have to send in crafts. You don't have to arrive early or stay late or take a long lunch to pass out cupcakes and wipe up spills. You don't even have to apologize for not doing any of it.
If your kid is too little for school, then you don't have to organize a Valentine's Day themed play date or tea party or picnic. If your kid is too little for school you don't even have to tell them it's Valentine 's Day. This Valentine's Day, in order to be a good parent you do whatever it is you do with your kid on any regular Thursday.
You CAN do any of this, of course, if you WANT to. But all I'm saying is please don't feel pressured to. Your kids will have a great day no matter what, because there's a lot of love between you all—on Valentine's Day and every other day, too.
This V-Day all you have to do is keep doing what you do all year long—love 'em, feed 'em and try your hardest to get those kiddos to bed on time.