By Monica K. Guthrie
The flu has reached record numbers this year which leaves loads of children (and parents) sick as we approach Valentine’s Day. So what do you do if you want to have a special day but have to take care of someone who is sick? Here are some ideas!
For those early risers/stay-at-home parents (or stay-at-home-because-your-child-is-sick) start the day off with some love! Make heart-shaped French toast or pancakes – or, if you’re like me and those things seem WAY too difficult (because who has heart-shaped cookie cutters around? … I mean… besides everyone else) you can make normal breakfast foods (normal pancakes or toast) and top with fruit and cream in the shape of a heart – a good idea also if it’s the parent who is sick and doesn’t feel up to working too hard that early in the day.
I don’t have heart-shaped cookie cutters so I freehanded a heart in toast with a butter knife. Then I hid all the flaws with strawberries! There was also yogurt on standby once the toast and fruit was done.
Valentine’s Day Card
I’m generally running late on getting something for my husband so the kids and I will make a card for him (and maybe for other friends and family for me to mail out). You can make the cards as simple as you’d like (piece of paper + crayons) or as complicated as you’d like (cardstock + crayons + stickers + ribbon + paint + picture + whatever). To tell you the truth, I really like getting a package of $1 stickers. I find them less stressful for me – the kids pull them off, stick them and voila! We’re done.
We made some Valentine’s Day cards with pink paper, colored pencils and stickers. I also cut out some shapes in red paper (dinosaurs and a rocket) to add to the card.
Writing on the Wall
Something fun is to grab the kids, stuff them into the bathroom with dry erase markers and let them loose on the mirror. The dry erase markers wipe clean off the mirrors which makes the activity pretty easy and the novelty of writing on a wall keeps the kids interested for long enough for me to get lunch ready.
This was the most fun for my youngest. He had a blast drawing all over the mirror. The best part was he was so excited he insisted on cleaning it afterward.
Bento boxes (or lunches cut up cute and arranged “cutely”) somehow inspire my children to eat more than if I’d just put a sandwich on their plate. So today get creative with shapes and colors. You can try heart-shaped sandwiches or potatoes (bake them to create “chips”) – really you can make heart shaped anything – carrots, sushi, cheese, anything!
A handful of blueberries, surrounded by grapes, enclosed in a ring of strawberry slices. If I’d thought about it, I would have made it a heart.
Dress up/Pamper yourself
Just because you’re sick doesn’t mean you have to look it/feel it. So get dressed up in a dress or suit (I love this “love” bowtie I had custom made for $10!). Or if you really just want to lounge around in your pajamas, pamper yourself with mini manicures or pedicures!
I mean … since you’re already dressed up, you might as well take some photos! They don’t have to be serious photos, follow the kids around with your cellphone and snap away as they do the mundane in their cute outfits and great nails! Get photos of playing with toys, making a blanket fort, making lunch – so many options!
Dinner and a movie
So once again, I went with the heart-shaped theme. You really can do anything in a heart shape (meatloaf, pizza, soup with heart-shaped toast bread). You can order pizzas and then cut it into a heart if you’re not feeling like cooking! And, if you’re over the “heart shaped” thing you could cut food into pieces (like chicken strips) and spell “love.” Keep the theme going by watching a movie during dinner! We found the movie “Winnie the Pooh: A Valentine for You” on Hulu which worked for my youngest son. You might want to find something like “Lady and the Tramp” or “Beauty and the Beast” (animated or live action), “Gnomeo & Juliet” or “Wall-E” for older children.
I made some mini pizza bagels for the kids and then, for me, I piled rice in the shape of a heart and then put vegetable curry on top … it didn’t turn out pretty at all. That’s why you don’t see a photo of it.
No evening is complete without some after-dinner dancing! A lot of movies have great music for the credits so if they’re feeling up to it, push back the coffee table and have a dance party! The sillier the better! Extra points if the children wear themselves out in time for bed!
Wrap up a loving day with a sweet book. We have a bunch of books that fit the theme: “Guess how much I love you” or “The Velveteen Rabbit” are great books, but so is “Llama Llama : I love you” and “Where the wild things are.” Feel free to even use “Goodnight Moon” or “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” - you can take some liberty on what defines a good Valentine’s Day book.
If you don’t have a “love” book hanging around you can always take any book and just talk about the things they “love” in the picture (for younger children).
The truth is, even if you’re not sick, these are some great/fun ideas to do at home if you’re just not feeling up to battling crowds of people for biscuits at Red Lobster. Also, check out last month’s article “Loving others as a family on Valentine’s Day” for other ideas on ways your family can show love to others (www.sleepingbaby.com/blogs/news/loving-others-as-a-family-on-valentines-day). Even on a sick day your family can take a moment to look after others – maybe by make an extra craft for someone in a nursing home or gather toys and clothes to donate (after you’ve sanitized them of course!).
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Monica K. Guthrie is an Army brat, an Army veteran (Rock of the Marne!) and now an Army spouse with two boys. She is currently the media relations officer for the public affairs office at Fort Sill, Okla., and writes a weekly column called the Okie Bucket List. She also has a photography and graphic design business, Pro Deo Creations, that she maintains between potty training and kissing scraped knees.
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