Happy Valentine's Day!
In our home Valentine's Day is a family affair - no fancy restaurant dinners, gifts of expensive jewellery or date nights out for my husband and I. We are just as happy spending our adult alone time curled up on the couch together in front of the fire with a platter of nibblies, candles and wine after the kids are tucked away in bed. For us, celebrating love means spending time, not money.
My husband and I have been on two dates since our youngest son was born more than three years ago.
Two dates. In three years.
But even before we were a family of five we didn't do much in the way of "dating." When we started dating I was a single mom to a two- and three-year-old who I'd been raising alone for over a year. When we started dating I hadn't had more than a couple of hours to myself since the boys' birth, nevermind a whole evening to spend with another adult. And when we got married we were already an automatic family - there were no years alone together as a couple. Any kind of real alone time - afternoons to just hang out together or go shopping or get projects done around the house, evenings to curl up on the couch together and watch movies, cozy weekends away at a cottage, vacations together on a beach - well, we've never had that. Ever. For us, "date nights" have always meant evenings at home after the kids go to bed.
Spending as much time as possible with my kids while they are kids has always been a big priority for me - I've arranged my work and life around ensuring the boys haven't had to go to daycare - and quality family time is the focus of our family's life.
So Valentine's Day is a family-friendly rather than a romantic holiday in this house. Heart-shaped pancakes for breakfast and dollar-store Valentine treats piled at each boy's place at the table. Handmade Valentine cards and crafts. A big family dinner with a special strawberry Valentine dessert. A day full of love and family.
And after the kids are in bed my husband and I will indulge in our favourite snacky foods, a bottle or two of good wine, and a few hours of alone time celebrating Valentine's Day in the home we love filled with our favourite people in the world.
Originally published as "Love Don't Cost a Thing" on my weekly column at gailvazoxlade.com