If you haven’t heard, St Valentine, patron saint of sexy pants, has a big day coming up. For those single mums or dads not currently in a relationship, Valentine’s Day can be a toughie. We are just off the back of happy-families Christmas – man that was hard. Then came dry January – actual, real torture. There’s this grey, wet, half-term coming up when everyone who isn’t divorced and penniless goes skiing and has fun, while the rest of us stay at home eating lentils in front of Naked Attraction.
So it can feel like a real kick in teeth when Valentine’s Day then pops along, saying ‘hey you, middle-aged spinster lady on the shelf over there, why aren’t you sexing it up at the disco with Armie Hammer tonight?’ It’s all too easy to just renounce the whole thing and pretend you don’t care and only like cats.
But when you’ve got kids, it’s not that simple. They LOVE Valentine’s Day, for one thing. After all, they still believe in fairy tales. You don’t want to spoil their fun, or have them think you’re lonely or feeling sad because no-one has sent you some Milk Tray.
So this year I’ve decided to embrace Valentine’s Day, to show them that even though I am single and quite often very grumpy, I am still down with the love thing. And as a very spiritual friend reminded me recently (as part of a wider conversation about crystals – apparently they do all sorts of things, you just have to ask the universe. Who knew?), you only get out of life, what you are prepared to put in. So, be cynical about Valentine’s Day, and you’re not going to have any fun. Put some love out there and maybe you’ll get some back.
For all my single sisters out there, here are some ideas for making Valentine’s Day fun when you’re a flying solo:
1. First, find someone to fancy. This is a tough one when most of your potential objects of desire are ten years too young for you, or simply imaginary. It’s easy to decide there’s no-one out there and shut down completely. But try – just for one day. There’s a school of thought that says just by behaving in a certain way you can actually become that way. Try flirting with the postman or the guy at the garage and you might make yourself fancy him. Even if you don’t put a spring in your step you might put one in theirs.
2. Envious about all that Agent Provocateur underwear you’re not receiving? Buy yourself some new knickers! And feel smug that this is underwear you actually want to wear, and not some godforsaken basque contraption that your husband/partner wants you to wear later, when you really just want to watch Holby City.
3. Book in for a blow dry/bikini wax/facial/something nice – feeling beautiful isn’t only for the coupled-up.
4. Send someone a card. Receiving a card on Valentine’s Day is a lovely thing. If you genuinely can’t think of anyone you fancy, send one to a friend who needs the boost. Whoever it’s to, keep it anonymous – that’s the fun part (and if they find out it’s from you they might think you really do fancy them – and then you’re in trouble.)
5. It’s generally accepted that restaurants are terrible places for single people to go on Valentine’s Day. PAH! Gather a bunch of friends and head to somewhere with long tables and be all shouty and raucous and hilarious. Laugh in the face of Valentine’s Day.
6. Your children may be feeling sorry for you, or wishing you had a date. They are too young and lovely to be cynical yet. Show them you are cool with this love stuff and get into the spirit of things:, bake some heart-shaped muffins, make some heart-shaped garlands. Help them send a card to someone they like. Create your own family celebrations that you can enjoy together for years to come – who said red roses and chocolates were the only way to do Valentine’s Day?
7. If you’re divorced, look at your old wedding pics with the kids, if you dare. They’ll appreciate knowing it all started out well, at least.
8. Take the opportunity to discuss love and romance with them. Watch a romantic film, or read a classic love story or fairytale. Valentine’s Day is a great hook for conversations around their expectations in life and how things work in the big, wide, world.
9. Write a love letter to yourself. I know, I know, this sounds pretty cracked. But positive affirmations are the way forward when you’re feeling low. Write down all the things you’ve got going for yourself and remember why someone would be very lucky to have you.
10. If all else fails, get a cat.