Maximize Mother's Day with the Family

What’s your idea of the perfect Mother’s Day? If your answer involves sleeping late, lingering over a bountiful brunch, and doing as few household chores as possible, you’re envisioning the kind of day moms everywhere dream of having. After all, it’s an occasion when (theoretically, at least) you’re supposed to be pampered! To make the most of your day, plan some activities that will help you meet your fitness goals while relaxing and having fun with your family at the same time. This doesn’t mean you have to pack your day with so many things to do that you’re all exhausted by nighttime. You can sit down to a South Beach Diet–friendly lunch together, enjoy one of the activities listed below, and still have time to fit in that manicure you’ve been needing.

Be a sport
Don’t consider yourself much of an athlete? You don’t have to be in fighting trim to take your family bowling or to play miniature golf. These are activities that family members of every fitness level can enjoy, and both encourage a little friendly competition. If you don’t feel like driving, head out to your backyard and invite your kids to lead you through some of the drills they do during soccer practice, or pitch balls to your little baseball player. If you have tweens or teens, ask them to indulge you (hey, it’s Mother’s Day) by taking a long, invigorating walk together. Bad weather on Mother’s Day? Don’t let showers rain on your family parade: just dress the kids and yourself in rain boots and raincoats and have a rousing game of tag or hide and seek in the backyard. Or let the kids play an active video game, which lets several players compete at games like tennis, golf, or baseball.

Take a hike
If you’re following the South Beach Diet, you probably already are taking a daily walk. Next Sunday, turn that walk into a hike, and lead your family on an adventure to a local park or preserve. Plan your route out in advance to make sure it’s not overly ambitious for the little ones. You want everyone to have a good time and not overdo. Pack a small backpack for each family member, stocking it with water as well as healthy snacks like raw vegetables with hummus, part-skim mozzarella cheese sticks, small bags of dry roasted nuts, and some air-popped popcorn. Once you get to your destination, enjoy a picnic of sandwiches made with lean deli meats and thin slices of whole-grain bread, as well as some fruit, if you like. If you’re on Phase 1, you can enjoy your deli meats in lettuce wraps instead. Don’t forget to take along a camera, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a soccer ball or jump rope to use at the park!

Plant a garden
What perfect timing for Mother’s Day to fall at the peak of planting season. Even very young children can help you by digging and scattering seeds in the soil. (Plan ahead by showing your kids seed packets and asking their input on which vegetables your family should plant; radishes can be very rewarding because they grow so quickly) If your garden is already growing, enlist your children’s help in pulling weeds and watering the plants. If you have a child-sized rake and hoe, and maybe a bubble-blowing lawnmower, your little gardeners will be happy to stay by your side for hours.

Get back to nature
Take your kids on a “bug safari” right in your own backyard. Give each child a magnifying glass so they can get a bugs’-eye view of various specimens — caterpillars, ants, maybe a worm or two. You could even make bingo cards that have pictures of things they can look for in the yard. Just in case they can’t find any live creatures, include some items like big rocks or teensy twigs. Join in the fun and run around with your kids as they explore. Feeling a bit more ambitious? Take your little adventurers to the zoo or to a local arboretum. If you live in the city, head to the park together and have your “bug safari” at the playground.

Shop ‘n cook
Take your kids shopping at a farmer’s market or local farm stand. Stroll through the stalls to see what looks the most appealing. In late spring, the stands will be laden with a variety of locally grown fruits and vegetables. Talk to your children about what they might like to make for dinner. This is also a great time to have a talk about why it is so important to eat organic foods whenever possible. With your kids’ input, plan a dinner to make with all the bounty you bring home. Assign everyone something to do, whether it’s washing the lettuce, stemming fresh strawberries, or setting the table. By the time you all sit down to dinner together, you’ll be ready to share not just a healthful, South Beach Diet–friendly meal, but a great conversation about how you all spent your Mother’s Day.

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