I was sure not to fail on helping my kids make (or let’s be real—making for my kids while they kind of help) cute Valentine’s this year. But alas I did. With so many cute and easy ideas out there, like this from Rookie Moms, and this from Parent Hacks, not to mention all of these adorable and doable ideas from The Crafty Crow, I felt motivated–I was all over it this year. Then it was suddenly two nights before Valentine’s Day (which in working parent time means that we had a 30-minute window between dinner and bed to make something), and we had done nothing yet.
As I scrounged around the house for supplies and opened each drawer to disappointment—no heart stamps, no cute paper, no catalogues to cut up, jeez…this was getting dire—I then came up with an idea. We would do something different this year. We would focus less on the Valentine itself and more on what it actually said. My daughter would tell me one nice thing about each of her classmates, and I would write it inside the card. And I’ll cut to the chase: this was much faster than crafting with them to make a card. We pulled off all 14 cards in our two night, 30-minute window.
I first dug up some red paper and found a half package of leftover heart stickers. I drew a heart on the cards (the original idea was my four-year-old could color it in with Cray-Pas but we ran out of time for that) and my four-year-old stuck a heart on the card.
Then I asked her to tell me something she liked to do with the first classmate. As it turned out, she needed some coaching.
“I don’t like when you scream so please don’t scream anymore.”
“Let’s say something nice in the card, so we don’t hurt their feelings,” I encouraged.
“What’s your address? Would you like to come over for a playdate? I want you to come to my house for a playdate.”
We were getting warmer. I gave her some examples of things I knew she enjoyed and suggested she tell each friend something she liked doing with him/her. Finally, the most adorable answers emerged.
“Dear Eryn, I like playing cheetahs with you. I want to have a playdate with you. I love you.”
“Dear Lucia, I like how much you laugh. I want to have a playdate with you. I love you.”
“Dear Nina (her closest friend), I like to swing and play with you. I like being silly with you and I want to have a playdate. I love you.”
Some of her answers showed thoughtfulness.
“Dear Ezra, I am sorry I didn’t let you sit next to me. I will be so happy to let you sit next to me. I love you.”
Some of them didn’t make sense to me but led to uncontrollable giggling:
“Dear Kaj, Dear Bamboo. I love you.”
The 14 cards came together in the 30-minute intervals we had each night. They would not top any craftiest card lists. But they were personal and sweet.
When I thought we were finished, my four-year-old had other plans.
“Mama! Let’s make cards for the homeless people!” she said with breathless excitement. And I felt one of those few-and-far-between parenting moments where I saw my efforts to raise an empathetic kid with a social conscience were succeeding. Even if I didn’t make cool Valentine’s Day cards this year, perhaps I was doing something right.