How are you going to celebrate Valentine's Day this year? Chances are it does not look like what you celebrated last year. Restaurants, cinemas, concerts and even babysitters are off the table for many of us, thanks to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic – which means couples will need to get creative.
In some cases, however, your COVID Valentine's Day may look like your traditional Valentine's Day – with just a little more social distancing and a few more public health precautions. "My husband and I have done 'drive-thru' computer nights once a month," explains Lorie Anderson, a parent blogger at MomInformed. "My mother lived with us at the beginning of the quarantine, so she watches the children for us. We order pick-up. from a restaurant with a drive out and sitting in the car and chatting for a while. It's actually been a lot of fun, and that's what we're going to do on Valentine's Day. " but you and your partner may also be able to use this year's atypical holiday to think about what you want on February 1
With this in mind, we contacted two relationship experts to learn how couples can plan a happy one. COVID -era. Valentine's day that works for them – or, if you have children, a party that works for the whole family.
Think About Your Love Languages
A date-to-dinner night may be the perfect solution for a couple like Anderson and her husband – but that does not mean it's the best romantic dining option for you and your partner. Before deciding how to celebrate Valentine's Day this year, it's a good idea to consider what makes both you and your partner feel loved.
"When it comes to deciding what will be special for you and your partner, it is important to take into account their love language," explains licensed marriage and family therapist Kim Egel. "Everyone has a different definition of what a special night is and what a special night looks like, especially when it comes to Valentine's Day."
The concept of love language was popularized by Dr. Gary Chapman in the early 1990s. In his book The Five Languages of Love Chapman identifies five primary ways in which people give and receive love:
- Words of Affirmation
- Quality Time
- Receiving Gifts
- Service Documents
- ] Physical Touch
If your partner's primary love language is affirmative words, make sure your Valentine's Day plans include the ability to share what you truly appreciate about each other. If your partner feels loved while performing services, try to make their lives a little easier by taking some of the daily chores off their plate (or completing the big task you have postponed). If your partner's main love language is physical touch, well … you probably already know what to do to make the day feel special.
"Factorization in love language is huge when it comes to making your partner feel heard and recognized," Egel told us. "If your partner does not care about fine dining and over the best gifts, chances are you will miss the mark if you go in that direction."
Keep in mind that the love language model allows you and your partner to make the day special even with COVID restrictions and public health safety measures. You may not be able to book at your favorite restaurant, but you can still create a Valentine's Day celebration that includes quality time together. All you need to do is find out what this year's version of quality time should look like – a ticket date, a marathon in the living room or an evening of going through old photos and reminiscing about all the wonderful experiences that brought you and your partner together.
Ask yourself (and your partner) what you have been missing
When you and your partner discuss what may make this year's Valentine's Day feel special, you may want to ask if there is a specific pre-pandemic experience that they missed – and if there is a way to make that special experience happen on February 14th. Communicate with your partner, discuss how you can spend Valentine's Day at home.
"Couples may want to gravitate toward what they have longed for but have either been overlooked or missed," explains Meredith Prescott, a licensed clinical social worker who helps young adults and couples navigate relationships. “Maybe it means spending quality time together and doing an activity together that they have not had a chance to do or maybe have postponed. It might seem like being more intimate. Maybe for another couple, it means being gentle with each other and sharing things they love about each other that they haven't shared recently.
It is important for you and your partner to be honest with each other during this discussion – otherwise you risk agreeing to do something that neither of you really wants to do (like spending the whole afternoon in the kitchen, trying to recreate your favorite restaurant meal). It is also important to remember that your Valentine's Day does not have to include any of the classic traditions. Instead of prioritizing fancy clothes, chocolates, red roses and gifts, for example, you can spend your Valentine's day resting and reconnecting. Brainstorm a date idea for your romantic night! Create a romantic restaurant experience at home, give each other a love letter that shows what you love most about your partner and take a romantic walk through your hometown. One of the few silver feeds associated with the COVID-19 pandemic is that many of us are allowed to reconsider how we spend our holidays – and in some cases create new and better ways to celebrate.
Come up with a plan for the children
Trying to plan a Valentine's Day celebration with low COVID risk with your partner is complicated enough – but if you are a busy parent, you also need to come up with something for your children to do while you and your partner reunites.
"Allowing time for connection and bonding with your partner is so extremely important," says Egel. "If you have decided to have a date to honor the relationship with your partner, then it is important to find something to occupy the children to honor what you are striving to do: just connect with your partner."
Parents probably already know what options may work best for their family, whether it's asking an older sibling or grandparent (who lives in their household) to babysit one night, swap date nights with another family in their quarantine pod or let the children watch a movie while the adults connect with each other in another room.
If you can let your children decide how they want to spend the evening – of course with reasonableness – it's even better. "Giving your children their own time to create their own fun is important for their development," explains Egel. She states that asking your children to be busy while you and your partner spend time together "sends the message that it is not always about them", which is another important milestone for development.
If your kids choose to spend the night with you, maybe you can make some DIY dessert together. After your Valentine's Day dinner, make some hot chocolate, chocolate covered strawberries, (chocolate all really), or another sweet candy. Your children will love the quality time you spend almost as much as satisfying their cravings for sweets. To forget about your cluttered kitchen – have a glass of champagne!
As I said, many parents think that Valentine's Day is less about their romantic relationship and more about the family's love for each other – which means you may want to come up with a day that makes everyone feel special. This is the kind of Valentine's Day celebration that Michelle Meredith from Bright Color Mom has in mind:
“Traditionally, on Valentine's Day, I give my chocolates and a small gift, like a book or a small toy. My husband and I usually go out to dinner while the children spend the night with their grandmother, she says. This year, even though my children still see their grandmother a couple of times a week, they will not stay overnight – because my husband and I will not go out. I'm still not comfortable eating in restaurants. We will treat our children like our valentines this year! In addition to their usual gifts, we will pick up my children's favorite restaurant dinner to eat together at home. Then we pop some popcorn, make hot chocolate and watch a movie (of course picked by the kids) with the fireplace on. When they have gone to bed, my husband and I will watch an episode of one of our favorite adult shows together. It will still be special for all of us, and it has given us all something to look forward to at a time when happy anticipation has been hard to come by.
If you can create a Valentine's Day that everyone in your family is looking forward to, you're doing it right – no matter how you stop celebrating this year.