9 ways parents can show love this month

It's all about focusing on the family

9 ways parents can show love this month

As a guy, you may think that Valentine's Day is just a "Hallmark holiday," seemingly manufactured by companies to boost after-Christmas sales. In reality, Valentine's Day is a pretty important day to show your family you care. With this in mind, GreatDad.com - a leading source of experience, recommendations, inspiration and advice for dads - recommends nine top tips for families to share in the spirit of Valentine's Day.

"These days, my kids and I truly love taking the extra steps to spend time together, talk about the importance of love, and show the people in our lives how much we love them," said Paul Banas, founder of Greatdad.com. "The tradition of Valentine's Day presents wonderful opportunities not only learn about and discuss romantic love, but also is a great time to shower the people we love with love."

1. The dating game. We all know the agony that comes with waiting until February 14th -crowds, inflated prices, sold out signs, and more. Move up your Valentine's Day experience by a week or even a few days. This enables you and your children to truly focus on the meaning of Valentine's Day and seize the many opportunities this annual tradition presents.

2. Lessons of Love. Use the Valentine's Day celebration to discuss the meaning of love with your kids, and your feelings for their mother. Open up to them so they can see you not just as "dad" but as a complete person. This may seem sappy, but your relationship with your wife is the most important role model for romantic love for them as they grow. Giving gifts from the heart will enable them to appreciate the reason for celebrating Valentine's Day.

3. Planning and creating a gift is as fun as buying one! Ask your children's advice about something you can do together that will be special for Valentine's Day. Engage them in brainstorming a list of gifts to make for mom. Be creative, be crafty, and have fun. You can also make this a "teaching moment" by incorporating some basic budgeting lessons into the gift-planning sessions. Set a budget for everyone to stick to and talk about spending wisely.

4. Teamwork: Together with the kids, do something that will help you spend quality time together and at the same time benefit mom. For example, reserve a spa evening for your wife and while she's there, arrange to take the kids to a pottery studio to make something special. Or, clean the house - a recent study by the Pew Research Center of 1,128 married women showed "willingness to do housework" as a major predictor of marital bliss. With your kids, channel Mr. Clean, roll up your sleeves and dig in together!

READ MORE: How to Steam things up in the Bedroom

5. Matters of the Heart. If the kids are old enough discuss what they are thinking about doing for Valentine's Day, you can use the day to talk about how your kids are feeling in school. This is a terrific opportunity to get them to open up about how they feel their social life is going and give them an opportunity to bring up any issues or problems they would like to raise - another teachable moment for you and your family.

6. Before Kids ("BK"). Mentally go back to once upon a time in a magical place called "before kids" when "Oh! Baby" versus "Uh Oh! The baby" was tops in your vocabulary. Bring out photos of the days when you were dating your partner, and share stories with your kids. This will help them open up and learn lessons about love indirectly through modeling. And, while you have the photos out, work with the kids to create a family collage. You can even create an album using one of the photo-sharing sites such as Ofoto.com, MyPublisher.com, Shutterfly.

7. All You Need is Love. Invite your children to think about people in their lives (cousins, uncles, neighbors, friends) whom they admire and love, and prepare Valentine's Day cards for them. This will teach your children that love is not just something mom and dad share.

8. A romantic song or homemade movie can be a wonderful Valentine's Day gift. While you may not have a set of pipes like Frank Sinatra, Michael Buble or Chris Daughtry, choose a favorite romantic song, such as the tune you first danced to at your wedding, and ask the kids to learn the lyrics so you can all sing it for mom at a special moment. If crooning isn't a family forte, create a mix tape - using MP3s on iTunes or an actual CD - or make an iMovie of the family telling mom just how special she is.

9. Be your own Frost or Shakespeare. With the help of online rhyming dictionaries such as RhymeZone.com, you and the kids can come up with words that rhyme with mom's name. Even if you start with "Roses are Red..." and make up just three more lines, it's a wonderful way to be creative and show her you care. Or, make up a play where the kids play you and your wife when you first met, and when you became engaged. Have your children playact the roles, and improvise new lines, as needed.

"We know how important this day is. At GreatDad.com we not only want to make sure that this February love isn't in the air simply because of the date, but rather because all the signs are there that you took time to share the experience with your children to show how much you care," added Paul.