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5 Hands-on Mother's Day activities for families

Abbi Perets lives in Houston, TX, with her husband and five children.






Enjoying family time

Sure, sleeping in on Mother's Day is nice. And it's true, sometimes a little alone time goes a long way. But it's also a lot of fun to enjoy your kids a bit, and these hands-on activities are the perfect way to do that.

Happy family writing letter

I'll admit, some years my vision of the perfect Mother's Day is a day that my husband takes all the kids and disappears for several hours. But once I've had time to enjoy my coffee in peace, catch up on my blogging, and maybe read a chapter or two of a new novel, I'm lonely, and I want my family back.

Mother's Day is, after all, a great opportunity to "check in" with your kids and enjoy some creative play together. We all know about the benefits our kids reap from one-on-one time with a parent: lower obesity rates, higher test scores -- it's all good. And just plain having fun together is itself a critical aspect of child development, says Charlotte Reznick, PhD, author of The Power of Your Child's Imagination: How to Transform Stress and Anxiety into Joy and Success (Perigee/Penguin).

What I don't want to do, however, is sit around all day trying to come up with something fun to do. And I'm sure you don't, either, so I've done the work for you. All you have to do is choose one or more of these hands-on activities to do with your kids. You're welcome.

1. Express yourselves with self-portraits.

Trace the outlines of your bodies on butcher paper, and then decorate them. Be creative: give yourself glittery hair, cut up old clothes and use the fabric to dress your portrait, cut images from magazines that represent things you like or admire or want to embody. Display the finished product prominently in your home. This is a project that you and your kids will remember for years to come.

2. Show your star power.

Break out the video camera and start recording. You can write a movie and perform it together, re-enact a scene from a favorite show, interview each other, or just have a good time singing songs. Have each member of the family give a video tour of your house, then compare and see the difference in how you perceive things. Record messages to other family members or have everyone describe a favorite memory. Post the video online for friends and family. Mark your calendar with a reminder to go back and re-watch it in a year -- you'll be astounded by how much your kids have grown.

3. Write a letter to someone special.

Handwritten letters are rare these days -- when was the last time you got something in your mailbox that wasn't a bill? Sit down with your child and write a letter to someone you both care about or admire -- Grandma or the President or anyone else you choose together. Your child can dictate while you write, or you can take turns writing. Add decorations, photos, and anything else the recipient might enjoy. Mail it together, and watch the mailbox for a reply.

4. Make a living memory table.

Have a box of photographs you've been meaning to put in albums? Why not decoupage them onto a table instead? Use Mod Podge to glue the pictures to the table, then paint the Mod Podge over the photos to seal them (you'll find complete instructions on the bottle). You'll end up with a table that's filled with the faces of the people you love.

5. Make beautiful music.

Make instruments -- fill an empty soda bottle with uncooked rice or beans for a homemade maraca. Fill glasses with varying amounts of water and use a spoon to play a scale. Make a guitar from an empty tissue box and some rubber bands. Experiment with the sounds you can make from common household objects.

Enjoy your family this Mother's day -- and take a little time for yourself, too!

More Mother's Day ideas:

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