Having been a single parent for eight Valentine’s Days, Heather Monahan has worked past the idea of being “alone” on this holiday. However, through her journey, she’s seen a lot of other moms struggle.

Although her first Valentine’s Day postdivorce was difficult, this Florida mom has a new perspective and wants to share what she’s discovered to help those who find this time of year difficult. Instead of focusing on what she doesn’t have, Heather makes an effort to use this holiday as a way to teach her son the importance of making people that you care about feel special.

“These little people are always watching us and emulating our behavior; the holiday hasn’t been about relationship statuses but instead about making others feel special when you care for them,” Heather told POPSUGAR Moms. “There has been no gift from a significant other that can compare to the thoughtfulness of my child.”

Read through for Heather’s five tips for not just surviving Valentine’s Day but also learning to love it as a single mom.

  1. Create a few annual activities that you do with just you and your kids. From getting crafty to watching A Charlie Brown Valentine with your kids as you devour pizza, creating annual rituals gives both you and your kids something to look forward to every year. “Whether it’s baking or a craft project, the key is to create a loving environment where everyone is having fun, spending time together, and even doing something creative together,” Heather said.
  2. Throw your own party with your kids. If you’re feeling a bit down this year or don’t have anywhere to go, change your narrative by throwing your own party. “Invite some of the other parents (whether single or in relationships) over with their kids to make valentines and enjoy some sweets,” Heather suggests.
  3. Love yourself and practice self-care. There’s nothing more important than embracing where you are right now in your life. Do something nice for you, whether that’s booking a massage, running a bubble bath, or buying yourself something special. “Remember, there’s nothing wrong with being single! If no one is buying you a Valentine’s Day gift this year, buy or make yourself one,” Heather said. “Self-love and self-care are super important to stay positive. And when you’re in a positive mind space, you attract other positive people into your life.”
  4. Do something nice for someone else. One of the best ways to feel love is to give love, and you can give do this in both big and small ways. “You could smile at someone on the street, pay for someone’s meal behind you in a drive through, donate to a charity, or spend some time volunteering,” Heather said. “Volunteering with your kids and helping others is a great way to feel love and spread love for Valentine’s Day.”
  5. Encourage your kiddo to make valentines for everyone — including your ex. The example that you set is what your children will emulate, and seeing them embrace love will fill you with pride. “I always ask my son to make a valentine for his father and for anyone else that he cares about because this shows that you can love and care for many people at once,” Heather said. “I want my son to know that love is not a finite thing that you can run out of — instead, I hope this shows him how infinite love actually is.”