The Valentine's Day BeTWEEN

Enjoy the 3rd Edition of "Cara's Corner" and get your LOVE on!

By Cara Saxwold 2020 January 30, 2020

Valentine’s Day tends to get a bad rap. 

For many, it is yet another made up “Hallmark Holiday” in existence solely to benefit a corporate bottom line with profits.  Others would rather not pay homage to a religious saint not affiliated with their own beliefs. Then there’s The Pressure.  Men and women of all ages scramble to find an Instagram worthy gift for their Beloved that PROVES their undying love beyond all question (on the heels of Christmas gift giving no less!).  You add in the social awkwardness of hormonal teen and tween years, and Valentine’s Day can be a downright nightmare; I happen to know a few kids that would rather skip school altogether that day (a shout out to a long President’s Day weekend so we don’t even have school on Valentine’s Day this year… CRISIS AVERTED!) 

But what if we all just boiled Valentine’s Day down to this reminder: 

Love each other. That’s it. {Translated into tween language: BE NICE.} 

Our families and our kids are the perfect starting point to lead by example.  It’s worth the time and effort to figure out what love language those closest to you speak, otherwise you’re just going through the motions and spinning your wheels. Spoiler alert: I’ve learned with great humility that what I *thought* my kids would appreciate was actually more about me than them AND they are polar opposites of each other too.  For example, one of my kids actually just wants quality family time… and snacks.  You take that kid to the park with a bag of Funyuns and he feels loved. The other one is far more tactile and wants to hear love to affirm her place in the world (i.e. a fuzzy blanket and funny handwritten note are more her style).  Side note: there’s an art form to making up new endings to the traditional “Roses are red, violets are blue…” poem.  The point being, a dozen roses and a heart-shaped box of chocolates might work for some but certainly not all. 

If doing up Valentine’s Day big is your thing, then YOU DO YOU Sunshine!  I’m truly on board with a day dedicated to LOVE. Historically, I have myself even spent hours upon hours creating Martha-Stewart-esk individual, personalized, homemade Valentine’s for the masses.  I’m part grateful and part sad those days are behind me because it is Sooooo Not Cool to do that anymore in the tween years. Even if I’m not making 26 heart-shaped frosted sugar cookies from scratch for the classroom, I still take full advantage of my Mom License to love on my kids.  Around here I like to keep it simple but stretch it out Advent style and count down the first 14 days in February. Here’s a few things I’ve done in the past that I think are timeless/ ageless and are still secretly appreciated between the eyerolls:

  • Add a sticky note to their door jam or mirror each day with something different you love about them. If you want to get extra fancy, cut out heart shape construction paper for your messages.  I think kids, especially tweens, need to be reminded what awesomeness they bring to this world simply by being themselves.  
  • Deliver a daily joke or riddle. I’m a sucker for dumb jokes and by the amount of these you can print for free off the internet, I take solice in the fact that I’m not alone.A few years ago, I also found heart banners at the Target Dollar Spot with clothes pins on the back that make it easy to add jokes or notes and REUSE them (much to the chagrin of my kids but they humor me… no pun intended). 
  • Share some positive quotes with them each day and help condition their mind to go out and spread some positivity in the world. Loved kids, love kids. 
  • Give them a simple age appropriate treat (think Dollar Store…think pack of gum… think new deodorant!). Don’t underestimate a pack of heart stickers either; you can slap those bad boys on ANYTHING and voila… instant “Valentine”.  And you can bet your bottom dollar that we still use our “mailboxes” that we’ve had since our kids were babies but a paper sack or shoe box… even a designated spot on the kitchen counter would do nicely. It’s more about the element of surprise and something to look forward to that counts.
  • Treat them to an experience you can do together OR let them be the benefactor of an act of service. If funds allow, a gift certificate is always welcome but homemade coupons are a hit around here too (i.e. bake a batch of your favorite cookies, one room cleaning by mom, no chores for a day, etc).

 I share all of this merely to spark some new ideas for your family and to encourage you that it doesn’t have to take a lot of time, effort, or money so that others feel loved.  I recently read a line in Bob Goff’s book Love Does that struck a chord with me. He simply said, “That’s one of the things about love.  It always assumes it can find a way to express itself.”  So whether you’re a Valentine’s person or not, I do hope you find a way this February 14th and beyond to be bold enough to express your love for those you care about on the home front. Because at the end of the day, that’s really and truly all that matters. 

Be on the look out for more of "Cara's Corner" contributions coming soon and follow Cara on Instagram at

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