Valentines Day is generally thought to be a holiday for couples. Sometimes a day that tends to get a bad rap as a “Hallmark Holiday,” being seen as a bit of a cash grab by the jewelers and florists. I have always had a slightly different take on the day, leaving me with a little less jaded feelings of it all. I think it’s because my Valentines’ days have always had more of a family feel. A holiday not meant just for the couples, but for the kids too.
It’s interesting the little things you remember from your childhood. The things that stick in your mind. I am fortunate to have many fond memories growing up. Valentine’s Day happens to be one of those for me. I really appreciated as a kid that my mom included us. She always spent the time helping us make the craftiest valentines’ boxes. On top of that, she always got us a little something too, even if it was just a card or chocolates, it always made the day. I wasn’t aware of any of my friends’ parents doing this for them, maybe that is what helped make it so special, that it was above the norm. Fast forward to adulthood, it was a no-brainer for me to try and keep this tradition going with my kids as well.
For anyone that has had a chance to read some of my other blogs, you may have caught on by now that I like excuses to celebrate anyway. I am a firm believer that you should always have something to look forward to. I enjoy themes and coordinating outfits, and that extra/unnecessary stuff. Mix all of that with my happy childhood Valentines’ memories and you’ve given me a great excuse to buy a few cute red and pink shirts and gift my kids with a small bag of goodies and/or candy for a day. It is nothing big, but it still puts a smile on their face. And I’ve done it every year for all of my kiddos.
It has become another little family tradition for us. Every year for valentines day my kids dress in their valentines day outfits (generally just cute little shirts with hearts or something saying that they are “mom’s valentine”). Then, we gift them a little gift bag of goodies, nothing over the top, usually just a very small toy that we know they will like and a few pieces of their favorite candy. Sometimes with school festivities they get extra fun added in too with class parties, homemade valentines boxes, and passing out valentines to their friends.
It is rare occasion to get a surprise win with my autistic kids, especially Damion. Generally, every small move forward is only obtained from large amounts of focused work. But, through this tradition of including my kids in this holiday, I got a small and unexpected surprise for Damion. Making holidays (even small ones like this) fun, helps him actually want to participate. A lot about holiday’s in general have so much to do with social aspects; gifting, games, etc. whether they are with family or friends are all built from social foundations. And the social part is what Damion struggles with; what Damion simply doesn’t find interesting. But by making it a tradition (a routine of sorts) and including things like getting gifts that he actually looks forward to, helps get him interested and involved in a way that is beneficial now and I am hopeful will continue to be even more beneficial later in his life. Adding in a few of his favorite themes and characters to valentines boxes and cards never hurts either.
I know my kids probably could do without extra sugar and any other little toys to add to what already feels like a home toy store. I know there can definitely be some downsides to adding in another holiday to celebrate, another thing to have to do. Decorating a bag is easier than taking the time to make a custom box. More money, more effort, more time. Nothing like me giving ideas that just add anymore stress to an already stressful mom life. But if you decide that a little extra is worth while, I can vouch that you may be pleasantly surprised with how it could actually be beneficial to your kids on the spectrum.
Believe me when I say that I never needed another reason to celebrate the day with my three little valentines. This kind of stuff is just my speed, the kind of stuff that I look forward too. The unexpected perks I have found with Damion are just the nice cherry on top, and I’ll take any small win I can get. If a small toy and his favorite big sucker get my kids excited about a small holiday, then it’s a small price to pay. Who knows, maybe if I’m lucky, they will even be left with the same fond memories I have of the occasion.