Before I got remarried, I was a single mom for a decade. To be more accurate, I was a solo mom because my ex had left the country, so that meant I had plenty of years celebrating Valentine’s Day alone.

I’ve always been a sucker for love letters and flowers, minus the cheap candy, so this holiday was a doozy for me. Every February, I tried to give it my best even if I felt dead inside. I helped my daughter stuff tiny envelopes for her friends, and I baked nut-free, sugar-free cupcakes for her class, but more often than not, I felt sorry for myself.

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Then I realized: it’s totally okay to feel lonely, but this doesn’t have to ruin the whole day. Eventually, I put a stop to the self-pity and learned how to see the love right in front of me.

I encourage you to focus on the love you do have, so if you’re with your kids this February 14, or even if you’re not, here are Six Ways to Rock Valentine’s Day as a Single Parent.

 

1. Smile at a stranger this morning. And, if you’re feeling courageous, you might treat them to a cup of coffee. What a sweet surprise. Seriously, being kind goes a long way. As Doris Lessing, a divorced writer who struggled with single motherhood, says in The Golden Notebook:

“Do you know what people really want? Everyone, I mean. Everybody in the world is thinking: I wish there was just one other person I could really talk to, who could really understand me, who’d be kind to me. That’s what people really want if they’re telling the truth.”

2. Make plans with your tribe. Be proactive and call up two friends and their kids and invite them over for dinner. If you can’t think of someone, another mother in your circle or a single, childless friend is a good start. Ask them to bring a dish. Buy yourself some flowers and a special drink.

3. Make #2 a full-on Valentine’s Day party. Kick up your heels. Turn up the music. Decorate cupcakes. Pop open the bubbly. Don’t be afraid to get festive!

 

4. Let yourself feel. After your friends go home, let yourself feel whatever comes up: the rage, the sadness, the disappointment. Write it down. Fill up a page in your journal. Write yourself a letter. You can even pull out the crayons and markers, and draw. It’s okay to be honest about the hard parts. Get it all out. Let it go.

 

5. Watch something sappy. After you snuggle with your little Valentine(s) at bedtime, watch a feel-good movie, or maybe even a romantic comedy. Go ahead and laugh. Or cry.
Be your own Valentine.

 

6. Write a love letter to yourself. Make a list of your best qualities. Are you open and honest? Are you available for your children? Are you a good cook? Do you like to garden? Do you work hard? Know that you’re a positive role model because you’re showing your kids that this holiday is about more than being coupled up; it’s about being in love with your family, friends, and, most importantly, yourself. So, draw a hot bath relax, and take in how awesome YOU are without or without a traditional Valentine to call your own.

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About Rachel Sarah

Rachel Sarah is the author of Single Mom Seeking and a journalist who often writes about her struggles with the grandparents, most recently for The Washington Post. Today she's the mother of two daughters. You can find her on Twitter.

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