The weather is warming. Birds are chirping. And Mother’s Day is approaching. Want to see Mom smile this weekend? Plan fun activities outdoors -- where she can feel fresh air, sunshine and see smiles on her kids’ faces. And don’t forget the benefits of being outside. Studies show outdoor play helps reduce stress in kids, and improves their eating and sleeping habits. And we know that if kids sleep better, Mom does too! Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. Here are some fun ideas to spend the day outdoors with the kids. Some tips might take planning and coordination, which hopefully your kids, spouse or babysitter can help pull off. As always, the goal of this day is that you don’t lift a finger.
1. Garden. The best way to get your own bouquet? Grow it! Teach kids the beauty of planting and pruning. Make fresh bouquets with clippings, or create dried or pressed flower art project with your treasures.
2. Take a hike. Explore nature by taking kids on a local trail. Make it “Scavenger Hunt-style” and create a list of things you might find, checking them off as you go. Plan your picnic at the top of the trail or mountain, documenting that you’ve reached your destination with a family photo -- or selfie.
3. Play ball. Get everyone’s blood pumping with a family friendly game of Wiffle Ball. If you have enough time, make team shirts with names or nicknames across the back (Mom and Dad will do!). Invite some other families for a friendly competition.
4. Create a classic game-a-thon: Set up the backyard with all sorts of classic games from Mom’s youth. Four Square, jump rope, Simon Says, Mother May I, Hop Scotch. Spend the day learning these games, and playing modern ones as well.
5. Clean the park. Nothing says love like donating your time and sweat to cleaning a public area. Head to your local park or playground with gloves, clippers, tongs and garbage bags. Making a beloved space green again helps teach kids the beauty of caring for the outdoors.
6. Build a maze. Collect rocks or use chalk to create a labyrinth-type maze in your own driveway or yard. Kids will enjoy strategizing the path and may even go in a zen-like trance.
7. Create a treasure hunt. Have a gift for mom? Hide it (in a safe, dry place, of course). Draw a map and give her 3-Dora-the-Explorer-type clues.
8. Go horseback riding. Assuming this is an activity you don’t do very often, find a local barn where the whole family can learn to ride. If anyone is timid, see if you can pet and feed the horses instead.
9. Push your limits. Choose something new, exciting, and active, like taking surf lessons, rock climbing at an outdoor rock wall, white water rafting, alpine sliding or finding a ropes course you can all climb.
10. Walk along a beach. Head to a gorgeous beach for a long walk of shell collecting, water-wading, ball throwing and ultimately, picnicking. Task the kids with finding collectibles they can decorate a picture frame with (attach with hot glue). Just make sure to take a picture of your family that day!
11. Head to a farm. Look at your local agricultural center for a local kid-friendly farm you can explore. See if they have any exhibits or hands-on activities to learn about specific animal life.
Katie Bugbee is the global parenting expert and senior managing editor at Care.com. She has written for Babble, Huffington Post, Newsday and Parenting. A busy working mother, she offers families advice on many parenting dilemmas, from appeasing picky eaters to finding the perfect babysitter.
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