So Valentines Day is well and truly upon us. Preparations have been painstakingly made, gifts carefully chosen and an evening of suave sophistication is what myself and my knight have to look forward to (smug grins all round).
Rewind five hours to my most recent dash around Morrisons and attempts to find a suitably expressive card, one that encapsulates nearly 18 years of love, happy memories, occasional irritation and momentary simmering resentment. The crowd around the Valentines card section is four-deep, I kid you not. The 10 year old and I eventually manage to get to the front, having barged in front of a man bearing a strong resemblance to my husband – all’s fair in love and greetings card shopping. The pickings are relatively slim; I dismiss the cutesy ones (although the one with the toucan pun nearly clinched it) and opt for a vision in scarlet, which has the 10 year old’s seal of approval. I fight my way back through the crowd, which is now seven-deep and head for the self-service checkout, having located my husband. There’s an awkward, not entirely unromantic, moment as we both have to covertly scan our purchases in front of each other and then decide who’s paying. Yes…Valentines Day as parents is a whole different ball game.
Back in the day, Valentines Day would usually involve at least a week of preparation, perhaps a new outfit, a gift ordered in advance and almost definitely going to that place called ‘out’. Conversation pre-children largely revolved around ‘us’, music, plans for the future and Strictly Come Dancing. As parents, our plans around Valentines Day involve procuring all of the goods we need for a relatively romantic night in (all possible babysitters will be being romanced elsewhere…plus it is half-term next week and we need to stay in childcare credit!). The plan now centres around one thing, and one thing alone…getting our beloved children into bed. This year’s plan involves a small degree of bribery, which is we’re having pancakes tonight, a day late but pancakes nonetheless. I have purchased a jar of chocolate hazelnut spread specifically for this purpose. I just need to strike the right balance; one would not want to overdo it and cause ‘that thing that happens when they have too much sugar’. If that happens, all Valentines bets are off. Once the pancakes have been flipped, our beloved trio will be heading up the wooden hill to Bedfordshire. RESULT.
With children all tucked in and the 14 year old enjoying a little X-tra console time, the scene will be set. We are just coming out of a run of birthdays so I’m not going all out on Valentines decor but I have purchased some lovely apple-y candles from IKEA especially. With the place lit up like a pre-electricity Blackpool, let the romancing begin. By the wonder of Spotify, I’ve got the Valentines tunes sorted. Here are just a few of my favourites but, on Valentines Day, whatever makes you both feel good and evokes happy memories is probably a good choice.
- Eyes Wide Open – Creed – I’m amazed that #1 son wasn’t born singing this one, so many times was it played during my pregnancy!
- Even if my heart would break – Aaron Neville (feat. Kenny G)
- Back at One – Brian McKnight
- A Groovy Kind of Love – Phil Collins
- Ticks – Brad Paisley
- To the End – Blur
- Heaven – DJ Sammy (Candlelight Remix) – don’t ask me why I love this, I just do!
- Chasing Cars – Snow Patrol
On our first date, we both expressed a mutual enjoyment of ‘Smooth’ by Santana and Mark Thomas, so I’m sure this will be making an appearance too.
In our household, this depends to some extent on how phase one of the plan has gone. What I do know is neither of us will particularly want to be slaving over a hot stove once the boys have gone to bed. This year, we’re taking full advantage of the supermarket Valentines meal deals on offer. M & S, Tesco, Waitrose, Iceland and Asda have all got different deals on for those who, like us, want to enjoy spending some time together on Valentines Day. Most of them are priced at around £20 (Iceland’s comes in at a budget-friendly £10) and various things are included. We’ll more than likely be getting ours from Tesco as, in a household with one fully subscribed carnivore and one near vegetarian, you can buy two different main courses, a side, a dessert and wine or chocolates as part of the deal. Pretty sure the other half has designs on the hard-won Clubcard vouchers too!
For those of you requiring a faff-free feast, a nice platter of antipasti, chocolate-dipped strawberries and some good ice cream would also go down a treat.
I can safely say that as soon as our little humans are in bed (wrestling them into bed may well form part of the evening’s entertainment), we will spend at least 75 percent of the time talking about them. That is part of the fun of being parents. Whatever happens, we’ll be enjoying our time together and attempting an evening off from arguing over the TV remote and which film in the Lord of the Rings’ trilogy is the best. If my knight plays his cards right, an extended version may feature in the evening’s proceedings (not a metaphor – just a very long version of the film).
Whatever you get up to, have a great one. Any special plans? I’d love to hear about them.
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