From "Busy But Balanced" (St. Martin's Press). Used with permission.

Valentine’s Day isn’t just for romantic love. Of course we all still want to be romanced, but consider marking Valentine’s Day as an occasion to remind your kids that they are cherished and to spread love around all areas of your life.

1. Make a list of the qualities you love in your child. Type it on decorated paper, roll it up, and tie it with festive ribbons. Place this love scroll on his breakfast plate for him to find first thing on Valentine’s morning.

2. Come up with a secret way to show love to someone you know who doesn’t receive much. How about heart-shaped muffins in a pretty basket left on an elderly neighbor’s doorstep?

3. Ask your kids what’s beautiful to them; then include more of it in their lives.

4. Have a family Valentine’s dinner—lots of red candles, lacy doilies, little white lights wrapped around the room, and heartfelt conversation.

5. Tell your kids the feelings you had when you saw each of them for the first time—the amazing love that washed over you. They’ll want to hear this story again and again.

6. In addition to the traditional chocolates, give your child the gift of your time. A heart-shaped note could list ideas such as a hike together, breakfast on Saturday morning (they choose where), their favorite book (read by you).

7. Take a look at your daily activities. Could you focus more on caring for each other than caring for things?

8. Remind your kids that real love doesn’t expect a payback.

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