Tips for keeping kids’ Valentine’s Day gifts stress-free

Despite the fact that Valentine’s Day can be a bit of a contrived holiday, my kids seem to love it. And with six kids in elementary school, it’s generally a very busy holiday in my household. It’s a huge undertaking to oversee the completion of Valentine’s cards for all the school friends, neighbourhood kids and cousins. So, I have some pretty specific rules to help me survive it without turning the occasion into a “bloody valentine.”

Keep it simple
What puts me over the edge is when the kids return home from school with gobs of Valentine’s Day stuff. Gone are the days of the simple card. My children now arrive home with bags of lollies, pencils, stickers and even gift bags! Who had to go and raise the bar on this? Whoever you are, I’m officially boycotting.

Don’t play the name game
Having your kid address each card to a specific classmate turns the process into a delivery nightmare. Instead, simply have your kid sign his or her name, and then any card can go to any friend. And please, if you’re going to send in cards, for goodness’ sake, send one in for every kid. No one wants to feel left out on a special day.

What’s love got to do with it?
There is nothing grosser than seeing romance attached to children. I even get twitchy when I hear parents talking about their five-year-old son’s “girlfriend.” Keep the focus on friendship, not romantic love. And when it comes to picking out cards, we go either gender-neutral or I have my kiddos pick what they like based on their own interests, and that’s what everyone gets. Yes, that can mean girls get Valentine’s cards with trucks on them.

Avoid a food fight
I’m not sure how people get around the whole “don’t send food in to school for other kids” thing on this day. It must drive allergy mamas crazy, unsure of what their kids might be ingesting. Even mamas who don’t want their kids overloaded on junk are guaranteed to have kids return home with sugar highs. My advice: don’t send in food treats. It’s just not necessary.

Give from the heart
When it comes to giving Valentine’s Day gifts to my kids, again I follow my standard rule of keeping it simple. I write a little love letter and sneak it into their lunch boxes with a special treat. Because my kids don’t get adoring notes from me daily and aren’t bombarded with treats on a regular basis, this makes it special for them.

In sum
Remember, it’s only a Hallmark holiday — there’s no point in letting it cause stress. Undoubtedly, another Valentine’s Day will be survived, and all that will be left to show for it is the scattering of cards and wrappers around the family room floor, a few sugar highs and a cinnamon heart hangover.

Julie Cole is a blogger, co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc. and a proud mom of six.

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