Our social media feeds are bursting with heart-shaped ads, the window displays are full of heart-shaped objects, even our coffees are sprinkled with heart-shaped cocoa powder. Yup. Valentine's Day is coming up.
But what does it mean for the little ones around the world, we wondered. How do they understand love? How can you show and explain love to them?
And after some serious thinking and a few coffees drizzled with heart-shaped cocoa powder later, we came to a conclusion. The best way, we decided, is taking a step away from your daily life, and taking the time and energy to connect with your little ones in meaningful ways.
How? Here's our list of 10 ways to show love to your little ones this February (special attention to #10 - there's a pretty exciting giveaway involved!)
1) Love is throwing them the most magical sleepover by letting them sleep in your bed, and bringing along 5 of their stuffed animals, too.
And you can make it even more exciting by extending a formal invitation. Yes, that’s right. Kids always appreciate a grownup’s ability to devise a perfectly plausible letter that is based on make-belief. Get 6 pieces of paper (one for your child, and one for each plush toy), grab your silliest-looking pen for inspiration and start writing. The cuter and the more imaginative the content, the better. Use language like “do’s” and “don’ts”, what they need to bring with them, the rules of the sleepover and accompany them with the most ridiculous examples that come to mind.
2) Love is creating a custom-made treasure hunt around the house for your little ones.
And you don’t even need to get new things for it! Just gather their favorite objects, find hiding spots around the house, and write clever, witty riddles related to stuff they can identify with, yet will push them to think outside the box.
3) Love is teaching them how to write “I LOVE YOU” in lots of different languages - their choice!
Here we’ll start you off with some: Te amo, Je t’aime, Wo Ai Nu, Naku Penda, S’agapo … now your turn. You can even teach them in sign language.
4) Love is taking the time to make heart-shaped objects from anything and everything, in the most creative and thoughtful ways.
This can be out of whatever comes to mind or whatever you spot in the way. Cookies, foil, paper, clips, paint, straw, play-dough … the list is endless. And if you want, you can even stick them all together on a piece of paper and frame them to make the perfect “I love you” picture for their bedroom wall. TA-DA!
5) Love is recreating the perfect camping experience, reading books, sipping hot cocoa, cuddling and giggling with all your heart.
Cold? Who said that is has to be outdoors? All you need is a tent that you can set up inside, or better yet, a set of sheets and some fluffy pillows. Hang the sheets from an object on the wall, place the pillows on the floor and bring all the necessary gear to reinvent the coziest camping tent ever created: blankets, stories, hot cocoa, tea and nibbles, board games, toys, plushies … and any other favorite activity that will bring smiles and laughter.
6) Love is waking them up at 5am in the morning, finding the perfect spot around your neighborhood, and taking them to experience their first sunrise.
All you need for this one is your energy. Extra points to whoever manages to keep it a secret, wake their littles' up and build anticipation around it! Make sure you're prepared to give them the ins and outs of sunrises and sunsets, explain the sun's journey during a day and during a year, and answer any peculiar questions that may pop up - we all know that there will be plenty of those!
7) Love is asking your little ones: “tell me something you’d like to learn about” and then devising a fun, interactive way to teach them.
Because that's always the best way to get children engaged and the most effective way for them to remember what they've learned. Are they asking about solids and liquids? Take them for a little demo to the kitchen.
8) Love is telling them the adorable little story of “Why love is blind and madness always accompanies it” that we absolutely ... adore. :)
You can find a nicely written version of the story here. And if you want to go the extra mile, you can ask them to name more virtues and vices that are not mentioned in the story, and ask them to tell you where they think they would hide.
9) Love is taking them for a picnic in the park - because in the history of food, any picnic meal is better than a table meal.
Just make sure to gather their favorite snacks, include them in the preparation process and take an extra blanket to bundle up.
10) Love is asking them to draw or tell you in a few words what they think love is!