Just when you thought the holidays were behind you, February sneaks up, and suddenly, you find yourself decorating tissue boxes-turned card mailboxes for the school Valentine’s Day celebration. But unlike our easygoing and less regulated days of yesteryear, where it was perfectly acceptable to bring homemade sugary desserts to a school classroom, the unspoken rules have changed, making it difficult to navigate strong opinions about candy, inclusion and everything in between.
For the mommas who want to make Valentine’s Day special for their little ones, we’ve put together a quick guide to school etiquette that won’t break any hearts:
Will you be my Valentine?
When giving out cards, DO be inclusive and make sure every kid gets one, not just the ones your child likes. Many schools have policies on card giving around the holidays, mandating that if you give to one, you must give to all. I wholeheartedly (pun intended) agree with this, as it teaches children to be polite and inclusive.
Delete your Pinterest app
No matter what you send your child to school with, another mom will do it better. They will create personalized Valentine cards in the shape of a shovel (“I like you a ton”) and take the Pinteresting to a whole new level. DON’T feel obligated by social pressure—meet somewhere in between boxed cards and paper chain hearts—and DO give your child free rein to make their own construction paper valentine. Remember, the holiday is about making people feel loved and special, not outdoing each other.
Skip the princesses and superheroes
If you go the route of boxed cards, DON’T give in to the gender norms and get pink princess cards for girls and blue superhero cards for boys. We live in a time where we are recognizing a great variety of gender identities, so DO opt for gender neutral cards or give everyone the same thing.
It’s natural to want to give out candy for Valentine’s Day, but due to allergy restrictions and healthy eating initiatives, some schools may not allow for the distribution of sweets. If you are able to dole out the candy, DO make sure it’s nut-free, as well as packaged and labeled so the ingredients are visible. You’ll also want to avoid anything chewy or sticky that can cause cavities. A few non-food alternatives to candy are pencils, stickers, tattoos, coloring pages and little toys.
Nip bullying in the bud
We all know bullying starts at a young age, so consider doing your part to help prevent it. DO chat with your child’s teacher and suggest that the kiddos be asked to write one nice thing down about each of their classmates on a paper heart. The hearts can be hung around the room, making each child feel valued and worthy.