I'll admit, my partner and I have not celebrated Valentine's Day (formally) in over 10 years. Turns out, resurrecting a celebration out of that February holiday is annoyingly difficult. Still, as time has gone on I've realized Valentine's Day is a great opportunity to show your partner a little thoughtfulness, especially after you have kids. This year, I'm attempting to reclaim the holiday for us, starting with a list of Valentine's Day gifts every new mom really wants. And ahem, hint hint husband, I'm making it really easy to figure out where you should start.
When my partner and I first started dating, he accomplished something very, very clever. When Valentine's Day rolled around and he looked at me and said, "We aren't the kind of people who do Valentine's Day, right?" as if those people were aliens from outer space. Unfortunately, when my then-boyfriend declared we weren't going to celebrate Valentine's Day, it was early enough in our relationship that I didn't want to rock the boat by making complicated demands about flowers and chocolates for Valentine's Day.
What I should have lobbied for all those years ago was that we'd skip the traditional gifts and, instead, offer each other something cheap, cheerful, and obviously thoughtful. I think that's what every new mom is really looking for: something that conveys an understanding of the enormous change in her life and her new needs. A gift that makes her life that bit easier, more relaxing or more peaceful will beat traditional gifts any day.
A Full Night's Sleep
Easier said than done, for sure, but honestly a solid eight hours of uninterrupted sleep makes all the difference.
In a perfect world, my husband would make up a cozy nook in our guest room with my book and robe and let me shut myself in there until I woke up in the morning. This isn't always possible with nursing or space (our guest room doubles as our daughter's nursery, so this remains a far off dream for me), but I know it sounds like absolute bliss to a new mom.
Her Favorite Treat
It most certainly doesn't have to be chocolate in red packaging just because it's Valentine's Day. In fact, despite my unending love of chocolate, I hate those selection boxes with far too many icky-tasting combinations that no one likes to eat.
Instead, figure out what your partner's favorite treat is and bestow that upon her for the holiday. Wine (what you served at your wedding is a fun treat), chocolate (from her favorite fancy shop), gummy bears from the gas station (if that's her jam), or even a few bags of chips if she's not the sweet treat type.
A Clean House
Not just a clean house, mind you, but a few hours away while it's being cleaned. Walking into a house that isn't a complete disaster is an enormous gift to a new mom.
In my opinion, having a professional clean your house can last much longer than any of us mere mortals can manage. However, if you're going to attempt it yourself, make sure she can be far, far away while it happens.
A Day Off Diaper Duty
I'm all for free gifts that give me a break from some of the more mundane things we do all day long. Offer the mom in your life a day off diaper duty or bottle washing (or, you know, both). Even one day without those responsibilities can feel luxurious.
There's something about being forced to sit still while someone else makes your toes a little prettier that is always a win in my books. No expectation of picking up or cleaning up or calming a baby down, just sit and zone out for half an hour.
Pedicures might not be everyone's jam, especially in February when half of the country needs to put their snow boots back on to walk out to the car. However, I think it's worthwhile to consider something that's a little luxurious or what can only be described as "pampering" for your partner. A manicure, or a facial or massage are all relaxing and force you to slow down and chill for a minute. Sometimes that's what a new mom needs: mandatory relaxation.
A Mini-Date With Baby
Among all the pressures Valentine's Day puts on us is the pressure to have an elaborate date just as a couple. In a lot of instances, that's a great idea (although shouldn't be reserved for only one day in February, in my opinion).
However, some new moms just aren't ready to part with their little one, especially if their little one is tiny. If you think your partner falls into this category, don't put extra pressure on her to leave baby just yet. Instead, plan something that's simple and not time-consuming where you could bring baby along. When our daughter was very little we used to tote her along in her carrier to happy hour or the local popsicle place. Bonus points if you can plan a date around a car seat nap so you're free to chat!
Something She Sacrifices
This might not apply to all moms, but I think most moms sacrifice at least something for their kids. When I became a mom, I instantly stopped buying anything for myself and focused solely on my daughter's needs. I stopped working to stay home with her, so money was a factor. It was over a year before I realized that I had been sacrificing quite a lot to ensure she was taken care of. One of the nicest things my husband did was come home one day with fancy shampoo and conditioner to replace the cheaper versions I had been using. So small, but such big impact.
I don't really want to think about how much spit up ended up on our sheets when our daughter was tiny. Surprise her with an upgrade to some of the basics that are taking extra wear and tear with a new little one. Sheets and towels are a great start, bonus points for washing them and putting them on the bed, because we all know that's the worst part.