With all the tear-jerking commercials and ads telling you to send your mom flowers, Mother's Day is hard to forget. The same can’t always be said for Father’s Day, unfortunately, which is why there's so much last-minute scrambling for cheesy mugs and ties. But what does the father of your children really want this year? Oftentimes,
the best things partners do for Father’s Day have nothing to do with presents at all.
Just like every day should ideally be Mother’s Day, every day should celebrate Dad and everything that he does. But as we all know, life gets in the way. “Father’s Day is the one day a year when dads everywhere are acknowledged for their unique contributions and importance in the lives of their children,” psychotherapist and relationship coach
Toni Coleman, LCSW, tells Romper. “Finding ways to say we value and love you for who you are and what you do will strengthen and reinforce the bond between Dad and kids and the spouses and partners who co-parent with them.”
If you’re trying to come up with the perfect present for your partner, you may find that it’s not something that you buy in a store or even online. Instead, it may be the
investment of time, energy, and even gratitude that your sweetie secretly wants. And that can create a Father’s Day full of loving memories that everyone can enjoy. 1 Ask Him What He Wants Philippe Roy/Cultura/Getty Images
Although a day spent golfing and goofing off with the kids might sound ideal for Dad, it might not match how he envisioned the day. “Don’t assume what he’d like to do,” dating and relationship coach
Fran Greene, LCSW tells Romper. “Your elaborate plan may be your vision but not his.” If you're not sure how he wants to spend the day, just talk to him about it. Getting it right is more important than surprising him with a (potentially unwanted) gift. 2 Give Him Extra Special Treatment
When you’re in a relationship and have kids, you get so used cheering them on and giving them special treats that you can forget to do the same for each other. “Do something that lets him know that you are his biggest cheerleader,” says Green. “It can be as simple as warming his towels before his shower, or having his favorite food treats appear all day." It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it’s something unexpected that he enjoys.
3 Make Family A Priority
Father’s Day isn’t just for your partner, but for his dad, too. “Be supportive if your partner wants to see his Dad, and or grandfather in addition to spending time with you and his children," says Green. If your honey wants to spend some time with his dad (or someone who has been like a dad to him), be sure to help facilitate that. It might mean including his dad in on your Dad Day activities, or even having your kiddos create a card for their grandpa.
4 Walk Down Memory Lane Westend61/Westend61/Getty Images
There’s nothing like looking at old photos to elicit those warm fuzzy feelings. “Create a photo album memorializing your partner’s experiences with the children from early years to present honors him as father and acknowledges his relationship with the kids,”
Babita Spinelli, LP, a psychotherapist, tells Romper. You might opt to make an actual album — or even just put some pics on his computer for him to click through. 5 Give Him Some Time Off
Sure, in theory, Father’s Day should be spent with the kiddos. But even dads need a break from their favorite little people too, sometimes (remember how you felt on Mother's Day?). “You might just giving him a day off from parenting!” says Spinelli. You can still have a special family meal at the end of the day so the kids can celebrate their dad.
6 Give Him An Experience To Remember
“Start his day off with a special experience,” says Spinelli. (Not
that kind, but that could work, too.) “It could be anything from a morning cup of coffee in bed with his favorite paper to his favorite omelette.” Then take it one step further: “Buy him an online class that you know he would be interested in but might never purchase on his own because he may see it as a luxury item,” she says. He'll remember the day forever. 7 Express Your Emotions
Somewhere in between carpooling kiddos around and getting your picky toddler to eat, it’s easy to forget to focus on your feelings. That’s why, on Father’s Day, you can take the time to show your sweetie what he really means. “Write a letter about what makes him a wonderful father and recite it to him,” says Spinelli. “Include the kids to share in the experience.”
8 Focus On His Needs
Everyone communicates differently, and Dad is no different. But once you tune in to how he expresses himself, then you can figure out how to make him feel special on Father’s Day. “The key to communicating how special he is should begin with using his love language,” says Coleman. “For instance, a focus on gift-giving may not be what says ‘I love you’ to him like performing special acts of service, giving him extra quality time, or showering him with physical touch, or words of affirmation.” When you understand what really resonates with him, then you can make Father’s Day even more fantastic.
9 Canoodle (If You Want To)
With kids crying, complaining, and pulling on you at every turn, sex can sometimes become an unwitting victim of your relationship. But if the mood strikes and the feelings are right, having a roll in the hay isn’t the worst way to kick off Father’s Day. “Early morning sex kick starts your day off with you both on the same page,”
Dr. Fran Walfish, Psy.D., a family and relationship expert in Beverly Hills, tells Romper in an email. “Physically (sexually) connecting puts you immediately into an emotional connection.” So take advantage of your kids’ snoozing to start smooching... and other things. 10 Let Him “Date” The Kids
“When your husband moans that he wishes he could give the kids more one-one-one attention, offer to care for the other kids while he spends solo dinner time with only Daddy,” says Dr. Walfish. “Your kids will love Dad’s individual attention and company.” If you have more than one kid, schedule the day so he gets individual time to do something fun with each child (and plan the activities for him so he's not stuck scratching his head).
11 Make (Or Order) A Meal He Loves
Whether your guy is a grill master or couldn’t figure out how to use a frying pan to save his life, give him the day off from cooking by planning meals that he’ll love for his special day. “Cook or order in a special meal full of foods he’ll enjoy and are celebratory,”
Beth Sonnenberg, LCSW, a relationship expert, tells Romper. 12 Help Him Curate His Collection
It might be sports memorabilia or
Star Wars movie posters. Whatever your guy is collecting, help him out by tracking down a coveted addition to his stash. “Buying a gift that adds to his collection, or tools or clothes related to a hobby he may have can make your partner feel understood,” says Sonnenberg. Just make sure that it’s not something for the house (like paint for a DIY project that you want him to do), or something that totally benefits the kids. 13 Give Your Gratitude eli_asenova/E+/Getty Images
“One of the most important things we can do for our hubby on Father’s Day is to express our gratitude,” Suzie Pileggi Pawelski, well-being expert and co-author of
Happy Together: Using the Science of Positive Psychology to Build Love that Lasts, tells Romper. “Research suggests that gratitude is key for relational well-being because it makes people feel cared for, loved, and understood.” So in the quiet moments of Father’s Day, sit down with your sweetie and just let him know how much he means to you. Even though he probably already knows, hearing it can be so meaningful. 14 Show Small Acts Of Kindness
While it might be fun to plan a big shindig for your sweetie, doing something simple can have the biggest impact. Maybe it’s just letting him sleep in — for once — without the kids climbing all over him. “Show your love through small acts of kindness,” says Pawelski. “It’s important to realize it’s the small things, not grandiose gestures, that we do every day that add up over time to make the biggest impact.”
Father’s Day can be a great opportunity to create new traditions, both for you as a couple as well as a family, that celebrate Dad every single day.
Experts: Toni Coleman, LCSW Fran Greene, LCSW Babita Spinelli, LP Dr. Fran Walfish, Psy.D.