It’s Valentine’s Day and you’ve got kids. Love is in the air, along with the smell of dirty nappies.
Once upon a time, romance was ripe, you showered each other with gifts, went on a special date and didn’t balk at the exorbitant menu prices. You had a double income and no kids. You could afford $30 for a measly entrée of two seared scallops piled high with micro herbs.
Oh, how things have changed!
Valentine’s Day with kids feels a bit like a fairy godmother with a vendetta magicked away all the romantic stuff and replaced it with stark, real life. This is what Valentine’s Day feels like now you’re a parent.
Roses are suddenly for dinosaurs
Remember when you were being romanced and you could count on a stunning bouquet of flowers, maybe roses, at least once a year? And bonus points if they were delivered at the office so all your workmates could ooh and ahh? Yep, forget that. Now your ‘flowers’ are collected by toddler’s hand. And when we say flowers we mean dandelions. Or chickweed. Because, as your toddler is sure to tell you, only Dorothy gets the roses.
The big night out is now uberEATS delivery and pjs
You’ve looked for babysitters to no avail (they all have hot dates tonight), so you’re doing date night at home. You’ve got a movie lined up, some yummy treats and a takeaway.
Problem: your toddler goes to bed at 9pm on an early night, and you usually fall asleep with him in his racecar bed. Solution: skip the afternoon nap (and suffer the hell that is a tired toddler). He’ll go to bed early and give you your evening back, just once.
All that planning can’t stop the inevitable, though. Once you’re in your pjs and installed in front of a good Ryan Gosling film, you’re going to fall asleep next to each other on the couch.
Lacy thongs are swapped for granny panties
You stayed up for the whole movie. High five!
In the pre-kids Valentine’s Day world, you would have thought about lingerie. Tonight though, your undies aren’t lacy, they’re high-waisted, cotton so they don’t irritate your caesar scar. Your bra? It’s an ancient maternity one from two pregnancies ago. It doesn’t fit very well any more: the cups are big enough to wear on your head, and those milk stains are never coming out. And breastfeeding mamas? Sure our boobs are bigger but don’t even think about touching. You know you’ll just get squirted in the eye.
No sex, we’re parents!
Kids have an uncanny sixth sense for knowing when things are getting a bit too, um, cuddly between their parents. Maybe it’s a self-preservation thing – preventing sex means they won’t have to contend with competition from more siblings. That means all kinds of good things to kids: an only child never has to hear “share your dinosaurs with your sister” or “wait a second I have to feed your brother”
If you still celebrate this holiday like you did when you were childless and carefree, we salute you. We also suspect you have very generous grandparents nearby who do things like babysit for free and stock your freezer with prepared food.
For the rest of us though, maybe you can never go back to a romantic Valentine’s Day. Maybe, like everything in post-kids life, you look at Valentine’s Day from a different perspective.
It’s not about showing love with flowers or jewellery or stuff. It’s about being grateful for your partner.
Even if you fought more during your baby’s first year than you thought was possible, you’re lucky to have each other. And every little stolen kiss, ever prolonged hug, every pause to glance over the riotous dinner table to see their familiar face is romance enough.
Happy Valentine’s Day folks!