Don't get too close to mom on Mother's Day

How do you show your mother you love her? I mean really, REALLY show her you love her.

What can you do to repay the lady who not only carried you for nine months and nursed you through infancy but also led you through childhood and still guides you as an adult? How do you begin to say thanks for the chocolate waffles on Sunday mornings, the clean baseball pants after weekend tournaments or the $20 bills placed in your wallet when you were still a week out from payday.

If you’re anything like me, you celebrate with a Mother’s Day filled with brunch reservations, walks among the flowers at Rotary Botanical Gardens and some literary assistance from the fine folks at Hallmark.

But not this year. Aside from the greeting card, my fail-safe, go-to options are off the table thanks to COVID-19. Celebrating isn’t going to be so simple.

Fortunately, I have an inquisitive mind, some smart friends and an internet connection. Between the three, I’ve been able to come up with a few ideas for celebrating mom’s special day that don’t involve mass gatherings.

Obviously, selecting activities won’t be a “one-size-fits-all” endeavor. Regardless of whether your mom is the traditional or nontraditional sort, there should be at least one or two things on this list will help you brighten her mood May 10—from a distance, of course.

Feed her

What mom doesn’t like a nice meal or a sweet treat? Particularly one she doesn’t have to make for herself.

If the mom in your life lives under the same roof, consider starting things out with breakfast in bed. This is a great activity for young children (with supervision, please) that not only teaches a life skill but helps kids feel as though they are contributing to a special gift without the need for money.

Breakfast can be as simple as whipping up a batch of pancake or waffles (go ahead, throw a few blueberries in there), scrambling a few eggs, making some toast and topping it off with a nice glass of juice (moms love mimosas, by the way). A fresh-cut flower always adds a nice touch.

Now, if your special mom is an early riser, why not opt for baking a batch of her favorite cookies? It’s hard to go wrong with chocolate chip, and recipes (there are TONS available online) are generally easy to follow. And you’re getting this list a week ahead of time, so there’s no excuse for not having butter, flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, eggs and, of course, chocolate chips on hand.

Again, use your kids’ youthful exuberance to mix the ingredients together, and be sure to help when it comes to putting batches in or taking them out of the oven. Nothing ruins Mother’s Day quite like a third-degree burn.

If you’re not much of a cook, opt for ordering delivery or pickup from Mom’s favorite eatery. Most restaurants in the area are offering at least one of these two options, and they surely will appreciate your business. Remember, of course, that this is a popular holiday, so you might want to call a few days ahead to see if demand is high and what wait times might look like.

Finally, if Mom doesn’t live with you, there’s no reason you can’t still cook a meal at home and deliver it to her. You might also dial up Mom’s favorite restaurant (again, call ahead), order pickup or delivery and get her a special treat that way. Just remember to wash your hands (repeatedly) before you hand off the goodies.

Pamper her

Is Mom in need of a haircut or styling? Does she enjoy visiting a spa? Is lunch or coffee with friends a regular part of her schedule? Well, there’s not much you can do about that right now, but these might be a few of the things that open the door to some great gift ideas for when things return to “normal.”

Despite not currently being open to the public, many salons and spas are still selling gift certificates online and by phone. Consider buying one (or more because her birthday’s coming up, too) to not only give Mom a little spoiling but to also help her favorite shops maintain cash flow in these desperate times.

Same goes for coffee shops and restaurants. Mom might not be able to use those gift cards now, but she will sure be glad to have them when things start opening up. And you just know she is gonna be craving a double mocha-choca latte grande whatever when all of this is over.

Entertain her

Everybody likes fun—Mom included. Why not include her in something you enjoy doing (“Call of Duty III”?) or better yet, dedicate some of your free time to one of her favorite pastimes.

Is mom a gardener? Consider helping her get her plants in the ground, weeding her garden or helping landscape around trees or shrubs. And don’t forget Rotary Botanical Gardens will be hosting its annual Spring Plant Sale from May 8-11 (see sidebar for details).

If Mom loves plants but isn’t able to get outdoors, you can enlist your local home and garden center, hardware store or grocery outlet to find a variety she can keep indoors to provide a little of the fragrance and color she can’t get outside to enjoy.

What about music or books? If Mom is an audiophile, bring her a few vinyl albums or CDs to listen to. If she has a smartphone, maybe she would like a music service such as Spotify, Apple Music or iHeart Radio, or a smart speaker such as Amazon Alexa. You might also think about sharing a special playlist created by you for her special day.

If Mom is a reader, think about purchasing a few books/magazines/newspapers for her Kindle (if she has one. If not, there’s another gift idea). If Mom isn’t into e-reading, remember Hedberg Public Library, 316 S. Main St., Janesville, has resumed its curbside pickup service, and Book World, 2451 Milton Ave., Janesville, also is helping customers by phone, so there are a couple of options.

Want to watch a movie on Netflix, but can’t be in the same room? Why not try Netflix Party? You’re going to need a Netflix membership for both you and Mom (yes another gift idea), but this new viewing option allows you to watch programs together online.

Netflix Party personalizes the experience by synchronizing video playback for both feeds and adds a group chat so you can share comments while watching. It’s not quite like watching from the same room, but it’s the best you can do right now.

Visit her

This might be the most obvious thing you can do for Mom. Whether you live in the same house, across town or across the country, this is likely what she wants most: your time.

When it comes to visits, there are limitless options. If you live in the same house, you can play board games, decipher puzzles, work on arts and crafts, cook together or just about anything your mind can imagine. And who says there’s anything wrong with just spending time together hugging, chilling or chatting.

If you don’t live in the same house, you still can give Mom some FaceTime—literally. Aside from this popular video-chat app, you can reach out virtually through such platforms as Zoom, Skype, Facebook Messenger and more. And with a decent internet connection, you also can set Mom up to take part in various online board games, which have become all the rage in this time of COVID-19.

Of course, there is always the tried-and-true telephone call (you know it’s been a while) and the suddenly popular “window visit.” Trust us, Mom is fine with both.

Even if you’re trying to keep your distance to protect Mom, you can still go outside to a backyard patio or sizeable front porch. Just remember to wear your mask or stay 6 feet away. We know it’s hard to do right now, and Mom really would love to have that hug you’re just itching to give her.

But she understands. After all, that’s what moms do best.

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