One thing I’ve always been absolutely desperate for my children to grow up knowing is that, though ours is a slightly unconventional family situation, they are completely and wholly loved. This has been one of those ‘make it up as you go along’ type things; there’s no easy way to explain to your small-sized kids that though a marriage might break down the children borne of it are still the most important people in the world, so I’m totally OK admitting that I play the ‘giving my kids tons of love’ thing by ear.
As my usual knowledge hack doesn’t work in this situation – i.e. Googling the hell out the thing I don’t know the answer to until I find a solution – I just go with my gut (as well as the above ear. And every other cliche’d body part). And that means heaps of cuddles, enough kisses to sink a Rom Com and the constant repetition of the words I LOVE YOU.
My Love twinning tshirts, £15, notonthehighstreet
As post-Millennial children of the celebratory internet age, mine have grown up with every single notable date being marked in a big way. Whether it’s Christmas day, Pancake day or a Tuesday we celebrate it in this house: we so enjoy being all over the occasions that make us happy.
And so for us, Valentine’s Day always seems like a great time to talk about all the love we have in our little family! Nobody needs an excuse to go Ga Ga over hearts and chocolates and I’ve always appreciated the fact there is a day to enjoy how much love there is in the world.
This harks right back to when I was a little girl myself. Valentine’s day was always a family occasion, one that all of us would get excited about. My dad would send my brother and I (and mum!) anonymous love letters in the post (signed ‘your secret admirer’ with his left hand, natch) and take us out for dinner to celebrate. I remember on one of the loveliest Valentine’s evenings we had as a family he secretly visited the local restaurant we’d be going to later that day. He dropped off little gifts for each of us so that when we arrived at our table we all had something lovely waiting for us, again from our persistent ‘secret admirers’.
We always knew it was him, of course, but it was such a lovely way to celebrate our family.
Which is why I love doing the same for my little family of three, and this year we teamed up with notonthehighstreet for their #LoveThoughtfully campaign – an initiative they’re running so we can all show whoever we care about a massive big dose of LOVE! I chose Elfie and Hux of course, because as much love as there already is in our house, we can always do with more.
notonthehighstreet is a place I shop frequently. It’s actually where I bought my boyfriend’s calligraphic Valentine’s Card last month (which I can’t show you yet obvs), and many brilliant small business women I know through Southwood Social Hub sell their wares here, too. So a couple of weeks ago I perused the site with glee to find some gorgeous products that we could use to celebrate giving love at home in style.
I spoke to the kids about how they’d best want to spend an afternoon just the three of us and it was unanimous: PIZZA PARTY. We’ve been having these ever since the children were weaned and it’s one of our very favourite meals to eat together. Mummy makes the dough – recipe to follow soon – and the kids pick their toppings: usually margarita for Hux and pepperoni for Elfie (I go garlic mushroom and ricotta).
This time we decided to go in a somewhat different direction and make a massive pizza for us all to share, though I MAY have had to repeat the old ‘sharing is caring’ adage a couple of times to get everyone to agree that it was a good idea.
I set up the table with our paper heart garland and origami from NOTHS, adding Emma Bridgewater heart napkins. We even dressed the part in matching Your Love tees, which brilliantly remind me of those friendship bracelets much beloved of my friends and I back in the late ’90s. Our new LOVE copper letters sat on the sideboard (where they will now live permanently – they are so clever).
The three of us had the loveliest little celebration. Though it was pretty much impossible to get a photo where neither of the kids a) had their tongues out, or b) were doing a mega-cheesy thumbs up, it was so nice for us all to sit together and talk about what family love meant. Often in our day-to-day we get so bogged down in running from Brownies to birthday parties to school plays and playdates that we just don’t connect as much as I’d like, and it’s made me resolve to put at least a day in the diary once a month to do exactly that. Thank you to notonthehighstreet for inspiring us to #LoveThoughtfully – especially as it involved food!
I’d love to know if you have any Valentine’s traditions with your families. I think pizza is one that might just stick with us…
Thanks to NOTHS for supporting More Than Toast