Little Things Mean a Lot

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Kristina Schnack KotlusBy Kristina Schnack Kotlus, Contributing Writer



Call me a Valentine’s scrooge, but there is nothing at all about naked babies (once you’ve had one, you can’t un-know what those bottoms produce!) or bows and arrows (hello Katniss) that makes me feel amorous.  In my mind, Valentine’s Day is just a distraction from the February holiday we all truly love-Presidents Day.  Presidents Day, with its bank holiday and Abe Lincoln crafts, clearly outshines yet another Hallmark holiday.

Since this is a monthly magazine, discussions about one day of the month are probably a waste, especially since you can find all the crafty cards you want on Pinterest (   While you’re there, be sure to check out the “Valentine Handprints” and “Valentine Bottle Caps.” So, instead of focusing on February 14th, let’s talk about love in a more year-round way.  There are a ton of really fun ways to show your children and significant  other that you care about them all year long.

1.   Leave a Note

Every once in a while, take a moment to write out a note for someone you love. It could be a post-it for your child’s lunchbox on the day of a big test, or it could be something mushy that you tuck into your spouse’s dress coat so they find it at some random time in the future. If you’re not really a writer, try a special token like a sticker shaped like something meaningful to you and the recipient.

2.  Buy a Treat

In my house, the rule is that if you don’t have a coupon or it’s  not on sale, it’s not coming home. However, every so often I’ll pick up somebody’s favorite fruit or cereal, even if it’s not on  sale, just so they know that I was thinking about them. Redbox movies are another great treat to pick up, and will only run you a dollar, assuming you remember to return it the next day.

3.  Celebrate Silly Accomplishments

Instead of only praising your family members when they ace a test, score the winning touchdown or get a big promotion, find reasons to celebrate them at random. Pick a night to hand out gold stars to everyone for something great they did, whether it was emptying the dishwasher without being asked or sitting in traffic for two hours without abandoning the car in the breakdown lane. Reminding your family that you’re watching them and appreciate all that they do is a great way to show that you love them. Be sure to apply the stickers somewhere fun. I like having “star pox” on my face, but you can use them more conventionally if you must.

4.  Say Yes

There are things to which we always say no. Maybe you’re completely out of energy at night and the extra five minutes of snuggling or “just one more story” are always met with a “not tonight kiddo,” or maybe you really loathe feet and your significant other has to go without a foot rub. I totally get that, especially the part about the feet, but every once in a while, it’s good to say yes even when you want to say no. If you always say no to something, saying yes will mean even more because the person you’re doing if for will know you don’t typically want to indulge them, but are doing it anyway. Be sure to follow up with a hug and a reminder that you love them, too!

5.  Carve Out One-on-One Time

Prioritizing time with each family member individually is a great way to show love. In my home, we try to be sure each child gets a “Mommy Date” or a “Daddy Date” every month or two, and that Mommy and Daddy get a few dates of their own in there, too. Time spent alone with your child doesn’t have to be expensive. ink the park and a hot chocolate, or finishing a book or scout project together. Of course, you can also take advantage of the fact that it’s just the two of you and enjoy an activity that might be cost-prohibitive if done with the full family, such as a game of laser tag or a trip to a water park. For grown-up outings, if you don’t have a sitter on deck, local bounce-houses frequently offer group babysitting on weekends.

6.  Have a Secret Code

Inside jokes or codes can be a special way to show love for your family, too. Growing up, my daddy used to squeeze my hand four times in church every week, which was code for “Do you love me?” ree squeezes back meant “Yes, I do,” which was followed with two for “How much?” and a final HUGE squeeze to show just how much. We only occasionally squeezed so hard the other person would squeak and attract the disapproving stare of my mother, but those potential reprimands were all worth it when my dad gave my hand four squeezes in the car on the way to my wedding. Other people might have a code word or  special token they pass back and forth. Whatever your special communication is in your family, a secret way of saying “I love you” is even better because it’s just for them.


I hope these ideas help you feel the love all year long.


Kristina Schnack Kotlus and her husband reside in Woodbridge with their three children. She is a born and raised Prince William native and the owner of, a resource for parents.



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