Make a date with your family this Valentine’s Day

pancakes for valentine's day Photo by Jodie Sadowsky

We’ve grown accustomed to holidays looking quite different during these days of social distancing. While a traditional Valentine’s night out, with a babysitter, and dinner at an actual restaurant (maybe even a fresh haircut), sounds downright dreamy right now, most parents will spend the most romantic day of this year with their partners — and their kids. Here are some ways you can mark this day of gratitude for the love in your life, by spending (yet another) day with the loves of your life.

Start early

Clinical psychologist and parenting coach Dr. Rebecca Shrag Hershberg encourages this sweet ritual in the days leading up to February 14: each night after bedtime, cut out a paper heart and write down something you love about your child and tape it to their bedroom door.

Sheet pan pancakes

sheet pancakes
Photo by Jodie Sadowsky

Start by making breakfast (and clean up) a breeze by mixing a batch of pancake batter and spreading it on a parchment paper covered sheet pan. Kids can add their favourite toppings (fruit, chocolate chips, or sprinkles), then bake in the oven for 8-14 minutes at 425°F. For extra credit, add strawberries cut into heart shapes and top with whipped cream.

Valentine’s art with younger kids

art play
Photo courtesy of Storey Publishing

My six-year old loves running art class using the simple projects she “teaches” me from a brilliant new book called Art Play that’s perfect for pre and early readers. Have the book and basic craft supplies ready and let kids choose and direct the grown-ups in a Valentine-making activity, like bubble paint prints, clay self-portraits, mailbox, card making, torn paper collage, and more.

bubble art createad by Jodie Sadowsky's children
Photo by of Jodie Sadowsky. Art by her children.
art work bubble print by Jodie Sadowky's children
Photo courtesy by Jodie Sadowsky. Art by her children.

A bit of science for tweens

A thaumatrope is a 19th century spinning toy that uses the power of optical illusion to combine two images into one. These are completely addicting to make and require just five minutes of focus, a straw or pencil, paper, tape, and markers.

Light up the day by tinkering with this basic circuit project kids can’t resist. You’ll need to plan ahead with these few supplies: thin copper tape or an electric paint pen, mini LED light bulbs, and coin cell batteries.

Sewing your intentions

Embroidered red heart on a white cloth.
Photo courtesy of Davizro Photography/Shutterstock

Grab some white tee shirts and red thread, and teach your boys and girls basic hand stitching. Sketch a heart or a silly conversation-heart type message (XO, 2 CUTE) in pencil and try your hand at running or zig zag stitches.

Teen challenges

Escape Room Geeks sells printable escape room kits that are easy to set up at home and fun to solve in teams. We loved the clues in Houdini’s Secret Room and are eyeing Saving the Beauty of Winter next.

The Kennett Kitchen offers downloadable “family baking dates” like their bestselling Great Cookie Quest. For $9, you can instantly purchase and print a super-organized recipe kit to guide you to make mini batches of ten of the most popular cookies from Martha Stewart to Mrs. Fields, then taste test your way to find the perfect chocolate chip cookie. Other ideal classes for sweet Valentine’s bonding include cupcake wars, cake pop making, and a free molten lava cake tutorial.

In between cookie testing and dinner, try to squeeze in a hike, skate, or one of these outdoor activities.

Heart shaped pizza

Photo by Evgeny Karandaev/Shutterstock

Who needs a fancy meal when you can have tomato sauce and cheese? Shape your dough into hearts, add a salad, and call it a day. While the pizza is baking, have everyone add a few favourite songs to make a family playlist for the evening.

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