Valentine’s Day as a Single Parent: Turn the Blues Around

Posted February 6, 2009 by

Certain holidays and celebrations can be a little bit more difficult than others for a single parent. Valentine’s Day used to be one of those holidays for me, but I learned some fun personal and practical family activities to celebrate without feeling the “Valentine Blues” as a single dad.

Valentine’s Day with your Children
The first thing I had to “re-think” for myself was the commercial association of Valentine’s Day.  My mental picture of love letters, cards, and flowers sent to the office and the romantic dinner date that evening was not the only way to see it happening for me. Everything changes when you are divorced or widowed. When I was a newly divorced, this holiday is just another date on the calendar and may or may not fall under my custody schedule.  So my first year, I discovered I had my children for the holiday and I celebrated Valentine’s Day with a special “Daddy Date”. I hand-wrote three invitations for my children and mapped out the activities on the invitation:

* A Special Dinner prepared by Dad featuring their favorite meal
* Dessert Menu featuring fresh home baked cookies which we all baked together
* My own hand made Valentine Card with personal special wishes from Daddy
* A choice of (1) Activity that we could all agree upon: Bowling vs. Movie

My Daddy Date went perfect and I found the meal and all the activities brought us closer and together as a family.

Valentine’s Day as a Single Dad, Single.
I had to “Think out of the Box” on my first Valentine’s Day as single parent without my children. I have two separate suggestions to make on this subject because both of them worked just as effectively for me on two separate occasions. My first suggestion is based on my community of friends and how they helped me out during my time of loneliness. There is a term nowadays where guys can go out and have a great time just being “the guys”…it’s called “Bro-mance” — not romance, but Bromance. My two best friends from college and high school took me out for some great food and great laughs and it made all the difference in the world for me to celebrate and realize that there is a difference between feeling lonely and being alone. As a single parent, we are never alone, but we can always feel lonely.  I realized that I am only a phone call away from anyone, and that was a big life lesson learned that evening.

My second suggestion is from my Valentine’s Day this past year. I actually made a special meal for that special someone in my life… Me.  It was another year of not having my three kids with me, and I actually was excited to have an quiet evening to myself and just enjoy my kitchen and prepare a big steak and a few glasses of red wine. My dessert was going to bed early, and giving myself 8+plus hours of sleep and actually feeling rested the next morning!  I know anybody can relate on this subject of sleep, parenting and children. It was a great evening.

I hope these experiences that I shared with you help create some new ideas this year. Wherever you are, and whatever you do this Valentine’s Day, remember that we are all experiencing the same feelings and emotions as divorced and widowed single parents going through transition.


RJ Jaramillo is a single father of three and the founder of While facing the daily challenges of raising three children on his own after his divorce, RJ realized how few resources were available to help him during this journey. He started in 2007. RJ lives in Southern California with his family.

Popular on Empowering Parents

View Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. mumy1dear Report

    I really loved alot of these suggestions ..if both parents could just think about thier children and making the very best that they are able to do with them, I think that would be most important and not just money wise but all the love you can give them from the heart and make it memorable… something that they will look back on and cherish the memory ! Make Fond Memories

  2. Francesca Report

    My birthday is at the end of January, then my youngest sons’s birtday is February 9th. We begin “painting the house red” around my birthday… meaning for my birthday we decorate with Valentine decorations. I’m a single mom, and of five children. I’ve learned to tell my children what I want for holiday gifts. If they cannot supply the gift, I still go out and buy it for myself and tell them it is from them. When parents are divorced, I think it is that much more important to teach our children about the season of love and celebrate it with them. Thanks.

  3. Elisabeth Wilkins, EP Editor Report

    RJ, I love these tips for single parents, and the positive way you have created new traditions with your kids. And Ben, the red dessert idea is great, too. 🙂

  4. anne Report

    Love the article. It’s so important for each of us to take time to treat ourselves to a special day doing exactly what we want just for being lovable rather than relying on someone else to show/tell us. This is especially true when our former partners think we’re “unlovable!” If they only knew us as we know ourselves!

  5. Ben Martin, THE FATHER LIFE Report

    I’m not a single dad, but the focus on Valentine’s Day in my house has been my kids for a number of years. They get more excited about it than anyone else! We have a special dinner with a menu they love and some sort of “red” dessert – usually involving strawberries. We decorate the house and make valentines and everything. Sometimes we even go on a “date” to a movie or the children’s museum. My kids are the focus–and they love it!

  6. Mike Wilkerson - 2GuysTalking Report


    Better than just creating a meal for yourself, since the whole event is a little “backwards” to begin with, trying having a “backwards meal!”

    Start off with a delectable dessert, work into a solid favorite meal, and finish it off with an appetizer (perhaps some cheese sticks or nachos).

    It’s great to see someone taking on the “task” of making a day that’s supposed to be the culmination of “two souls” into creating a positive environment for one. There should be more. 😉

    Thanks for the great post and take care, dude!

  7. oliversmom Report

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and a wonderful idea on treating ourselves to a special day. I too was feeling a bit blue at the prospect of spending this Valentine’s Day completely alone. Now I am looking forward to cooking myself a special dinner (or better yet getting some takeout), pouring a nice glass of wine, and running a hot bath. It will be a good day afterall and I’ll enjoy the quiet until my son returns.

  8. nina Report

    I’m taking myself on a trip this year, to a really cool place (Santa Fe) that I’ve never been to. Just me and my camera, and I’m so excited. It was mostly just a coincidence that the trip happened over Valentine’s Day, but I’m happy to have something exciting to do on my own.



Join our NEW Total Transformation® Learning Center!

Practical, affordable parenting help starting at $14.95/month BECOME A MEMBER TODAY!

Empowering Parents is the leading online resource for child behavior help


Parent Coaching Sessions

7.5 Million

Global Visitors

10+ Years

Helping Families