by R.J. Jaramillo
My life, like yours, is busy, even chaotic at times as the New Year begins. Certain holidays and celebrations can be a little bit more difficult than others for a single dad. Valentine’s Day used to be one of those holidays for me, but I learned some fun personal and practical family activities to celebrate without feeling the “Valentine Blues” that often come for single dads.
Valentine’s Day with your Children
The first thing I had to re-think for myself was the commercial association of Valentine’s Day. My mental picture of love letters, cards, and flowers sent to the office and the romantic dinner date that evening was not the only way to see it happening for me. Everything changes when you are divorced or widowed.
When I was newly divorced, this holiday was just another date on the calendar that may or may not fall under my custody schedule. So my first year, I discovered I had my children for the holiday and I celebrated Valentine’s Day with a special “Daddy Date.” I hand-wrote three invitations for my children and mapped out the activities on the invitation:
- A special dinner prepared by Dad featuring their favorite meal
- A dessert menu featuring fresh home-baked cookies which we all baked together
- My own hand-made Valentine card with personal special wishes from Daddy
- A choice of (1) activity that we could all agree upon: bowling vs. movie
My Daddy Date went perfect, and I found that the meal and all the activities brought us closer together as a family.
Valentine’s Day “Alone” as a Single Dad
I had to “think out of the box” on my first Valentine’s Day as single father without my children. I have two separate suggestions to make on this subject, because both of them worked effectively for me on two separate occasions.
My first suggestion is based on my community of friends and how they helped me out during my time of loneliness. My two best friends from college and high school took me out for some great food and great laughs and it made all the difference in the world for me to celebrate and realize that there is a difference between feeling lonely and being alone. As single fathers, we are never alone, but we can always feel lonely. I realized that I am only a phone call away from anyone, and that was a big life lesson learned that evening.
My second suggestion is from my Valentine’s Day this past year. I actually made a special meal for that special someone in my life … me! It was another year of not having my three kids with me, and I actually was excited to have a quiet evening to myself and just enjoy my kitchen and prepare a big steak and a glass of red wine. My dessert was going to bed early, getting 8-plus hours of sleep and actually feeling rested the next morning! I know I can relate to anybody on this subject of sleep, parenting and children. It was a great evening.
I hope these experiences that I shared with you help create some new ideas this year. Wherever you are, and whatever you do this Valentine’s Day, remember that we are all experiencing the same feelings and emotions as divorced and widowed single parents going through transition.
Richard “RJ” Jaramillo is a father of three fantastic kids and the founder of SingleDad.com. With many years of experience helping single dads like himself get back on their feet, RJ is excited to share what he had learned so that the transition to “Make Life Happen…Again” is easier for other single dads out there.