Please Keep Your Valentine’s Day Sugar Panic To Yourself

Remember, this is supposed to be fun.

My 5-year-old woke up so excited this morning. She literally could not wait to take the Valentines she had made, complete with lollipops, to all of her friends at school, and her energy was contagious. This is how a holiday is supposed to feel, all light and joy and cheer, and I just feel like it’s a good time to remind everyone that stressing about your kid’s Valentine’s Day candy haul is going to be zero fun for all involved.

Basically since the last Christmas decoration came down in stores, my local Facebook mom groups have been filled with panicked parents about what to do with Valentine’s Day. “What are we doing about all the candy our kids are bringing home, mama friends?” “Anybody got any healthy ideas for Valentine’s Day breakfasts, I just *can’t* with the sugar.” “OK, so who’s ready to break their kid’s heart when you tell them they can’t eat the candy out of their Valentine box when they get home from school today?”

I’m sure some of it comes from legit care and concern for a child, but it’s hard not to connect a parent’s deep desire to keep their child away from any and all sugar — even on a holiday where sugar is a main theme — to ancient diet culture. Despite the many, many Instagram accounts dedicated to feeding children that share posts over and over about not treating sugar as a forbidden item and why it’s so important to treat sweets as any other food, there is still so much stress and, surprisingly, anger about the amount of candy our kids bring home on a holiday.

But I’m here to tell you — beg of you — to just let your kid enjoy it. It’s Valentine’s Day! They got to decorate a whole box for the sole purpose of their friends dropping goodies in there. They went to the store and picked out a box of Valentines and then followed their class list and wrote name after name, so excited to take them to school the next day. They get to bring that whole box home and show you everything inside!

Do you really want your first response to be, “OK but you’re not eating any of this until after dinner”? Do you want to deflate them that fast?

My 5-year-old brought her box in and went through every piece with pure, exquisite joy. “Oh! This one is from Hailey!” she shouted. “Oh! I love gummy worms and Henry got me some!” She opened goody bags and was just as thrilled with the pencils and the tiny puzzles and the impossibly small dinosaurs as she was with the bag of frosted animal cookies. They were gifts from her friends! It was a whole big day at school! She wants to come home and share it with me!

Try to remember the joy of the Valentine’s Day candy box. Not just because of the sugar inside, but because of the sweet connection your child made with their classmates and friends. Because of the ritual of it all. That tastes just as good as a Reese’s Heart.