Valentine’s Day and Kids: Say I Love You Without the Junk

February is a month where our thoughts turn to love and hearts. First, there’s Valentine’s Day – a special day dedicated to honoring the patron saint of romantic causes, St. Valentine (or, as we like to think of it, a fun day filled with candy and flowers). Also, appropriately, the American Heart Association designated February as American Heart Month, and reminds us that heart disease is the number one killer of American women.

An heart-shaped tomato.

Image via Wikipedia

As staggering as that information is, it is a good reminder that there are many ways we can keep ourselves and our families healthy, like showing our children that Valentine’s Day is really about giving love, not candy. An organic, natural offering or homemade craft doesn’t have to be dull, either.

“Making something together or giving them something you made especially for them has long-lasting effects that go way past a sugar high,” says Carolyn Graham, editor of L.A. Parent.

Believe it or not, there are many ways to say ‘I love you’ on Valentine’s Day without associating the day with sweets.

  • Read a book about love. One of my all time favorite books to read to my kids is “I Love You With All of My Heart” by Noris Kern. I still can’t get through it without shedding a tear.
    heart sandwichesImage by via Flickr

  • Make heart-shaped sandwiches. Put that heart-shaped cookie cutter to use, but instead of cutting cookies, cut out a PB&J for your little snacker.
  • Write a poem to your child. Tell your little love what they mean to you in a poem. Be sure to sign and date it, and this will become a perfect keepsake for your tiny tot (and you, too!).
  • Prepare custom-made heart-shaped pancakes. Serve with banana eyes, a strawberry nose, blueberry mouth and plenty of love. My mom did this for me when I was growing up and it always reminded me how much she loved me.
  • Sing a love song. Pick out a song about love and sing it with your child in the car or at bedtime. “A Love Song” by Loggins and Messina is one I have rocked my little ones to sleep with many-a-time.
  • Make a heart frame. Insert a picture of you and your child. Your child will love looking at it everyday.
  • Serve up a love lunch. See how much love your tot can spoon with fun, heart-shaped pasta.
  • Take a special walk together. Call it your “love walk” and take the opportunity to talk about about the things you love, like nature or each other.
  • Go red for the day. Wearing red not only tells the world you’re honoring the day of love with your wardrobe selection, but the bright color will boost your spirits and confidence.
  • Collect wildflowers in your backyard. Not only is this a fun scavenger-hunt type of activity to do together, but you can also reap the rewards with a fresh bouquet on your dinner table for the whole family to enjoy.

In your household, if having something sweet is somehow unavoidable on this special day, consider alternatives like sugar-free, organic or other natural choices.

Avoiding junk food on Valentine’s Day can be easier than you think. By trying some of these tips, parents can get kids on track to a healthy lifestyle. This way, everyone gets to enjoy a long life filled with lots of sweet things –like kisses, hugs and lots of “I love yous!”

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