Why I Didn’t Create an Over-the-Top Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day yesterday was low key at my house. My husband cooked an amazing meal for me on Sunday. I gave him chocolate and each of my girls a little Valentine’s candy on the 14th.

Over-the-top Valentines Compared to the heart-themed-breakfast, love-notes-in-lunch-boxes fusses many of my fellow moms made, it doesn’t sound much like a bucket list celebration, does it?

There’s a reason for that.

Over-the-top celebrations aren’t sustainable for me. And I would argue they aren’t healthy or sustainable for most. They raise the bar and set expectations such that we’re often scrambling to find ways to make the next event memorable, to wow our kids or spouse or friends or social media followers with our creativity and pizzazz, to outdo ourselves. And in the process we cheapen everyday life and rob our kids of anticipation.

Going big has become such a way of life in our culture that I suspect we’re losing the ability to appreciate the ordinary. Our sense of perspective has been skewed by this desire for every milestone or occasion to be bright and amazing. When Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day and Easter share the same level of riotous hype in a household, how do kids learn which of those days is most significant?

When teenage girls become accustomed to up-do’s and manicures and professional makeup for homecoming dances, preceded by an elaborate “ask” by their date, then prom must include limousines and multi-hundred-dollar dresses and fancy “after parties.” But what’s left for the day they become engaged? And how can they help but expect the type of wedding that requires an exorbitant price tag when a mere high school dance merited so many frivolous expenses?

We have become so focused on giving our kids everything now, that we are leaving nothing for later. What will your children’s bucket lists look like when they reach their 20s and their 30s? When they are your age, what will they be hoping to do? How will they not be bored in retirement having done it all already?

More importantly, what do your kids bucket lists look like right now? In the wake of the hype and the busyness and the constant need to go big and achieve much, I’m hearing from kids how they just want a day to hang out at home and do nothing. They want a break from it all. Are you brave enough to give it to them? Or do you fear making them feel “left out” by not giving them every over-the-top experience you think their peers are getting?

Break the cycle. Dare to be the parent who invites their kids to enjoy the ordinary and leaves some bucket list experiences for the future. I know a lot of other moms who would appreciate it. And I’m pretty sure in the long run, your kids will too.


1603UdemyDisct Feeling exhausted from trying to match the over-the-top expectations prevalent among parents? Are you still eager to give your kids meaningful experiences that bring your family closer? I can teach you how. Check out my book Family Bucket Lists, or take my online course, Bonding Through Bucket Lists.

  • http://www.rhondafranz.com/ Rhonda

    Agree, agree! What will kids expect later if they get all of this now? I’m going to adopt your sentence…”over the top_______just isn’t/aren’t feasible for me. I could fill that in with birthday parties, birthday cakes, so many other things.

    • Sue LeBreton

      Yes Rhonda it’s a long lost to fill in those blanks. No wonder so many people feel tired & pressured trying to “keep up.” Not me.

    • http://www.larakrupicka.com/ Lara Krupicka

      Yes! I like how you’re putting that phrase to use.

  • Sue LeBreton

    Agree- everything doesn’t need to be an event to have fun. One year for Valentines we each took $10 (after drawing names) and went to drug store together to sneak and buy treats for our Valentine. It was a silly riot- the cashier got a big kick out of it as well. The graduation stuff is over the top in many places.Feels a bit like people living through their kids- creating all the fantasies they missed?

    • http://www.larakrupicka.com/ Lara Krupicka

      I love your Valentine’s exercise! That’s what it’s about. And I second your thought that it’s about people living through their kids. That makes a lot of sense.

  • http://everydaymomlife.com/ Emily Neal

    I was hoping and praying none of the other moms would go over the top with super cute Pinterest Valentine creations this year when I sent my first grader to school with an envelope full of store bought cards. Thankfully, no one went crazy, so I didn’t have to feel like the lame mom who didn’t make a big deal of the day. :) Great perspective, and so glad to read something from you today! We need to get together soon!

    • http://www.larakrupicka.com/ Lara Krupicka

      Oh, my! I forgot about the Valentine exchange craziness, since my kids are past that age. Yay for you for keeping it chill! I’d love to see you soon too.