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Although February is considered the official month of love, it’s essential that children and other family members know that they are loved year-round. Here’s a handful of ways to let those important in your life know how much they mean to you.
Love is in the air
Love is in the air, and for many people this Valentine’s Day, flowers and candy will be enough to let significant others know how much they care and appreciate them.
It can be tough to find the time to honor loved ones. When there’s a child with special needs that requires Valentine-like support often, it’s not only imperative that parents find ways to show their love, it’s vital that they give the same consideration to each other, to their other children, to their family members, and others who provide much-appreciated support.
Families that have a member with special needs face unique stressors – the level of care provided by a parent can be exhausting, and often times, finances can be a constant source of worry.
The good news is that sharing and caring for loved ones on Valentine’s Day need not be an extensive, or expensive, undertaking. There are many small ways that a parent can show love in a manner that carries significant impact, and that will make Valentine’s Day much sweeter than a box of chocolates.
For a child
1. Take your child on a snow day, even when there’s no snow. Pick a snow day – and away from homework and therapists – for one day for some one-on-one time, preferably the first snow fall of every season.
2. Make a scrapbook. Track all of a child’s achievements, as well as thoughts, hopes and dreams about them, and create a keepsake booklet.
3. Tell others about your child. Shamelessly brag about a child’s experiences and achievements, in front of him or her. Or, randomly recall a fun memory or experience shared with your child.
4. Say “I’m proud of you.” It may sound simple, but a child with special needs works hard to achieve benchmarks that come simply to other children. Tell a child that their progress is a momentous achievement. Complements with substance can power a child to new heights, for example, “You are so strong, I don’t know how you do it!” and “When you put your mind to something, you don’t quit! Amazing.”
5. Make an online scrapbook with a child’s pictures as they grow. A child makes many strives over 18 years. Why not make an online photo book of a child to mark all of these changes, so they can reflect on their lives in a positive light?
For a spouse:
1. Prepare a romantic meal. Nothing says “I love you” like making a memorable meal. And because a parent’s time for a spouse can be limited by family and work obligations, a night to enjoy a favorite meal is likely to be a momentous treat. Even if you are not a chef by trade, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich cut in a heart-shape with Red Hot Valentine’s hearts atop may not taste exquisite, but imparts the message.
2. Write an original, romantic poem. Okay, it might not be of the quality of a Lord Byron poem or a Shakespeare sonnet, but a thoughtfully-written poem or letter is an unusual and memorable gift that will be cherished for years to come.
3. Return to the place of a first date. A stroll down memory lane will allow couples, especially those that lack private time, is an exciting opportunity to reinvigorate a relationship, and re-engage a partner. If planning an all day event, consider driving by your old house, a favorite date-night spot, your favorite restaurant, and the place where you became engaged. Recall fun times at every destination.
4. Write a book or blog. Writing down the story of a marriage or a relationship can be a way to re-live enjoyable moments and make new memories. It can also be passed down as a family heirloom for generations to remember and cherish.
5. Make a “Top 10 Romantic Moments” list. Ranking the best moments of a relationship and sharing it with a significant other is a powerful way to let him or her know how valuable the contribution he or she has made in your life.
For a friend:
1. Take an evening to learn all about a friend’s hobby. Friends provide valuable input and a valuable sounding board for the parents of children with disabilities. But it can be a valuable break for a parent to immerse in a friend’s hobby because it’s an opportunity to share a bonding moment meaningful to a friend.
2. Make homemade treats. This is something that people will often do for family members, but it can be a refreshing and unexpected experience to receive such a personal gift from a friend. The recipient is likely to appreciate the level of time and thought put into creating the gift.
3. Takeover a friend’s chore for a day. Does a friend have some needed household repair or chore that needs to be taken care of? This can be an opportunity to show how much that friend is cared for because it might be possible to perform the repair. Remember, even though having a child with special needs can take time, friends have a to-do list, as well. Consider bringing along your child for company, support and assistance.
4. Try an activity that neither party has done before. Part of friendship means doing things together, and most of the time, the activities will be things both friends have done before. Why not take the opportunity to learn something new, together?
5. Fix a friend’s favorite adult beverage. The time for going out and having drinks on a regular basis might be long gone, but that shouldn’t mean that those same drinks can’t be made in the privacy of one’s own home. Making use of the blenders can create an opportunity for rest, relaxation and new creations.
For a caregiver:
1. Buy flowers for that special caregiver. Flowers brighten the day that is typically reserved for a spouse or a parent. A caregiver is likely to find such a gift unusual, and delightful.
2. Sneak a picture with the caregiver. In these days of email and digital photography, the art of a professionally-taken photo has been all but lost. But in the event that you have a photo taken of your child, or your family, with the caregiver pass one along. The keepsake will likely remain cherished throughout the coming years.
3. Write a note to a caregiver telling him or her how much their help is appreciated. Caregivers typically love their work, and are nurturing, by nature. Receiving a hand-written note, or even an email that gives the caregiver kudos can be an uplifting moment.
4. Verbally express gratitude towards caregivers, daily. Whether they are hired hands, friends or family members, caregivers work hard to help make life enjoyable. Even when you think a caregiver knows how much their efforts are appreciated, it’s gratifying to be acknowledged.
5. Make a festive treat for a caregiver. A caregiver spends a lot of time with a family that may not be their own. Making them a heart shaped treat – cookies, or a cake – is an unexpected way to let these valuable members of a child’s team know you appreciate the outstanding job they perform, daily.
Involving your children in the process of planning and creating these loving gestures is not only fun, but a bonding experience. The focus is on giving to others, instead of receiving. All of these acts of kindness and care will make Valentine’s Day – or every day of the year – enjoyable.
For a child, an atmosphere of love, support and caring has the indisputable benefit of creating in them compassion for others and a high level of self-confidence, both of which will help strive towards a happy, healthy future.
A message can be verbal, or something that’s felt in the heart. What all messages have in common is that they can influence our perspectives for better or worse. Luckily, by gathering positive messages, the bad ones can be cast away.
- Accept Help
- Celebrate Your Child
- Dare to Dream
- Experience Magic
- Find and Foster Creativity
- Gain Perspective
- Get Your Mojo Back
- Keep the Family Together
- Let Go
- Love without Barriers
- Pat Yourself on the Back
- Plan Ahead
- Pursue Happiness
- Reinvent Normal
- Share Some Love
- Take a Break
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