Mother’s Day is coming! Time for kids to make cards or gifts for mom or grandma. There are lots of posts and pins suggesting projects for Mother’s Day ranging from simple to complex. We’ll share some ideas, but what we really want to share is how to use that activity to help them learn some life skills along the way. That way you get more than one benefit out of an activity you are already going to do.

Since it’s Mother’s Day, moms might have a hard time helping their kids have this valuable experience so dads, grandpas, friends…these ideas are for you.

Start early.

Whether you start months, weeks or just a few days early, having time to help kids create a plan to celebrate mom can make it a great experience not just for mom, but for the kids too (not to mention you).

Starting early lets kids have a chance to be part of planning and experience the effort it takes to see a plan through. It may give them a chance to adapt the plan when it isn’t working the way they expected. And most of all it lets them experience the pleasure of success at the completion of a plan. These skills can help them later in their careers, but also can help next time you ask them to clean their room.

When we (the adults) recognize the processes and skills we’re using to complete a task, pointing them out can become a natural part of the conversations we have with our kids. This isn’t a lecture we’re talking about. More like a few side comments. Of course, if your kids continue the conversation it can turn into more of a discussion.  In this case it may sound like,

“Boy, you created a great plan. That really helped us stay organized so we could get this project done to make mom’s day special!” or “This seems a little frustrating. How about you make a plan so you know what you need to do next and you don’t forget any of the details you want to include? Do you want to do that together?”

Starting early also gives kids a chance to observe a need, to notice what mom does for them. Taking time to observe will give insights into a more meaning gift or act of service that could be done to celebrate mom.

Moms, this sounds nice, doesn’t it. Just remember Father’s day is coming up. Same thing applies…start early!

What kids can get by giving.

As kids create a plan (with your guidance) to honor mom you can help them understand the power of gratitude or recognize the importance of expressing their feelings. The comment may sound like,

“Telling mom how you feel about her will make it more meaningful to her. How about you write a sentence on that card and not just your name. ”

If they don’t take your suggestion and don’t want to write more than their name, it’s ok. You’ll have another chance to talk to them about this idea. Especially since the idea is already in their head now, whether they acted on it or not.

While preparing a gift, you will have the chance to talk about serving other people, which involves focusing on others instead of themselves. But it also involves a great feeling of happiness for making someone else’s day. You can help them identify that feeling when it comes, which will motivate the giver to do what’s needed to feel that way again. How would your home be different with continual (or even occasional) acts of service going on? Your conversation might sound like,

“I’ve notice you working hard on your gift for mom. How does it feel doing something that will help mom feel important?”

And, as you are focused with your kids on mom, those kids will get the message that moms are important! Which unfortunately is a message kids won’t hear many other places. Working with your kids on projects like these will also show your kids that their mother is special to you.

A few simple ideas.

So now it’s time to decide what to actually do for mom. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. The best gifts come from the heart (meaning they express sincere love and show thought and effort). So ask your kids for ideas. Have them think about what they like to do. Do they like to draw? They could draw a picture for mom. Do they like to sing or dance or program video games? They could make up a song, a play or a dance for mom. They could create a computer game or power point for mom.

Perhaps some of these ideas would work for you to do with your kids. (These ideas work for grandmas too!)

Have kids make a card.

It could be as simple as drawing a picture of something they love doing with mom. They could write a note or a poem of things they love about her. (Like an acrostic poem that spells out Mother or I Love You.) They could go a little more elaborate and turn their art into a puzzle or a book (homemade or professionally made) or write down young kid’s answers to questions about mom. (What is mom’s favorite color or food? How old is mom? What is mom’s favorite thing to do or favorite chore? What makes mom laugh? What do you like to do with mom? What is the best food mom makes? Etc.)

Find ways to help mom out.

Work with kids to secretly find something to do to help mom out every day of the week leading up to Mother’s Day. (Put your dishes away, sweep the floor, make her bed, offer to help with dinner, etc.) You could leave a little paper heart behind whenever you do something. Make a card or write a note to give her the last day telling her about your secret adventure. Write your own thing or use this rhyme: 

I love you mom! Oh yes I do!

You do so much for me, it’s true.

So all this week I’ve looked around

And things to help with, I have found.

I secretly tried to help you,

To show I’m grateful for all you do.

Happy Mother’s Day!

(Click here to print this rhyme on a blank card for kids to color and decorate. Print it double sided and fold in half for a card. The first page is blank so it will look blank when you open the link.)

Make up a treasure hunt.

Use clues to lead to different parts of the house where mom can find a note or a treat. Use these clues or make up your own:

  • A place to go most everyday, to wash the dirt and grime away. (Shower)
  • A small button at our house somewhere, that lets us know when visitors are there. (Door Bell)
  • Each of us, one and all. Are found here, up on the wall. (Family Photo)
  • A comfy place to sit and be, together as a family. (Couch)
  • A place to sit and be with mom, while she rocks or sings a song. (Rocking Chair)
  • A person comes by with their tote, this is where they put our notes. (Mailbox)
  • When clothes get dirty and need to get clean, it’s great we have a ___________ machine. (Washing Machine)

Help kids make breakfast, dinner, lunch, snack, treats, anything.

If mom usually makes the meals this will be a great break for her. It can be as simple as waffles, grilled cheese or PB&J (perhaps cut into the shape of a heart).

Kids can also give mom a big hug and tell her reasons she is loved.