Money was even tighter than usual for us on Valentine’s Day this year.
Receiving flowers or jewelry can definitely make a person feel special, but those things just weren’t in our budget this year. So our family did something that we don’t normally do – we played a special family game together around the kitchen table. We ended up calling it “The Love Game.”
The object of “The Love Game” is to make each member of your family feel valued and special. Each person says one thing that they love about every other member of the family.
It was interesting to find out what the girls had to say about each other, their dad, me and their baby brother. They also thought it was fun to speak for the baby in a squeaky, high-pitched voice: “I am baby Jeddy, and I love it when Sadie helps me learn to walk! Googie! And when Josie snuggles me! Goo! And when Adelaide climbs into my crib! Ticka-ticka!”
We learned that we actually do appreciate each other for little things – hugs from each other when we are sad, how Dad fixes things around the house, how Josie has a goofy laugh that makes us all smile, how Mommy does the laundry, how Sadie takes care of her little sisters, how Jed makes everyone laugh and how Adelaide is a really good hider during Hide and Seek.
We also touched on something else: how my kids love having “Special Time.” Special Mommy Time, Daddy Time, Grammie Time, Grandpa/Grandma Time, or Aunt/Uncle Time – it doesn’t matter. They thrive on it.
When there’s lots of kids in the family, even five short minutes of one-on-one time with each of them (without being interrupted by the phone or a sibling) shows them that they are special. (I guess this would apply to spouses, too, now that I think about it.)
And when you’re used to hearing “Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom” a million times a day like I am, it gets increasingly difficult to care about everything your kids say. I tend to tune them out sometimes (or a lot of the time – especially certain three year olds who talk incessantly.) I know that cannot possibly make them feel like they are high on my scale of importance.
Strangely enough, though, simply noticing them usually seems to do the trick: “I HEAR you saying that your toe hurts.” Most of the time, the injured party will sniff dramatically and wander away after boo-boo acknowledgement has occurred. Noticing them makes them feel special. It makes them feel validated.
When someone is upset or sad (e.g., “She closed the door in my face!” or “They won’t play with me, Mommy!”) they naturally keep going until someone stops them. One trick I’ve learned to use when they start repeating themselves is for me to repeat it instead. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, right? They seem to automatically feel better when they know I get it. (This would apply to spouses, also, wouldn’t it?)
Though every kid loves a trip to the toy store, I suddenly realized after playing “The Love Game” that it’s the little things that make these little people feel loved. Not one of them said a word about material things during “The Love Game.”
Snuggling, getting an unexpected hug, being listened to, being acknowledged, reading a story on Mommy’s lap, a goofy dance with Daddy in the middle of the family room – things like these take precedence over new toys or fancy boxes of Valentine candy.
We moms love our children so much. Telling them what they mean to us, spending special time with them, acknowledging them, respecting them – all of these things make them feel special and show them how we feel about them.
Our whole Valentine’s Day experience was really very sweet – maybe even sweeter than an expensive box of chocolates. It made all of us feel important.
And it taught me that showing my children they are special is simpler than I thought – and cheaper, too!