Many mothers view their commute home from work with mixed feelings. Yes, it will be nice to change into your sweat pants. Yes, it’s nice to catch up with your children. It’s not so pleasant to think about making dinner, washing soccer uniforms and finding a plastic whale for your son’s last-minute diorama project. Don’t forget to add the guilt because you nag about homework rather than play a rousing game of Candy Land.

Relax! Get in your comfy clothes and try some of these quick and easy activities. They only take a few minutes yet have a big impact as your kids laugh and play with you. A few minutes of a creative family activity reduces stress and makes homework and chores easier to accomplish.

Start with some spontaneous magic tricks. Don’t worry, you won’t need to cut anyone in half. These tricks are easy yet have a big impact in impressing your kids.

The Non-Popping Balloon: Ahead of time, blow up an ordinary balloon and tie the end shut. Take about a 2” strip of ordinary clear tape and put it anywhere on the balloon. Now add another piece of tape on top, forming an “X”. With great flourish, show everyone that you have an ordinary balloon. Bounce it in the air, so your family knows it isn’t a trick balloon. Bring out a straight pin. Make up some sort of magician-sounding patter and announce you will put the needle in the balloon and it will NOT pop. Poke the needle right through the middle of the “X” with the tape. The balloon will very slowly loose air, but will not pop. Let everyone see that yes indeed, you did stick the pin in the balloon without popping it. To show the balloon is real, remove the pin and quickly pop the balloon on any other location. Your family is guaranteed to burst into applause!

The Amazing Appearing Name: Here’s a trick you can use over and over for different occasions. Let’s say you want to honor someone having a birthday. Ahead of time, when no one is watching, use clear chap stick to print the birthday person’s name on the underside of your arm. Then stand in front of the group, announcing you have nothing up your sleeve. Wave your arms back and forth so everyone sees your arms look “normal”.
Again, in your best magicians’ voice, announce, “Ladies and Gentlemen. We’re here to celebrate a very special person having a birthday today. That person’s name will now be revealed to all of us. At this point, simply sprinkle some colored sand from your craft closet or even some flour, over your arm with the Chap Stick. The flour sticks to the Chap Stick. Shake your arm to remove excess powder and the person’s name will magically be written on your arm. Watch out David Copperfield! It’s fun to write your child’s name with Chap Stick and announce, “Ladies and Gentlemen. Some lucky person in this room will not have to do any chores this week. Let’s all say Hocus Pocus together and that person’s name will magically appear on my arm”. Your child will be thrilled to see their name appear after you sprinkle flour on your arm!

After you’ve amazed your tween with your magical skills, it’s time to add humor with this unique type of talent show. The next time the family is together, focus on every person’s special talents. Each family member takes turns demonstrating their unique talents. One slight difference…the talent has to be something that wouldn’t be seen at a traditional talent show. Oh no! These talents include skills such as Dad balancing a broom handle on the palm of his hand or your 12-year-old demonstrating how he can burp on command. (Now that’s a skill!) Can you regale your family by doing your perky high school cheerleading routine? Some families report people demonstrating their “talent” of boiling water or cracking their knuckles. Yes, your children will think her family deserves to be on the reality show, “My Family is Totally Weird and Bizarre”, but she’ll also end up demonstrating her ability to play the tambourine while tap dancing.

Announce to your family they are each getting their own aquarium. Go to the Dollar Store and buy inexpensive jars of blue styling gel. Put a few Tablespoons of gel in a re-sealable bag. Toss in a few small plastic or gummy fish. Seal the bag and reinforce with a strip of duct tape. Give your family their own mini-aquariums as they gasp in amazement at your creativity.

Have a SPARK’s Party! Buy a roll of Wintergreen Lifesavers. Take your child with you inside a closet. Hand your child one of the white Lifesavers to place between her front teeth. You do the same. Close the closet door so it’s completely dark. Bite down on the Lifesavers and watch the “sparks” pop out of your mouth! See? Your child can go to school and proudly tell her friends, “My mom and I had a SPARK party in our closet.”

Lasso an ice-cube! Offer a prize if a family member can lasso an ice cube. Simply set out a glass of water filled with ice cubes. Give everyone a 12” length of embroidery floss or thread. Tie a small loop at the end of the thread and challenge your child to lasso the ice cube and pick it up. After a few minutes, reveal the secret. Place the thread loop on top of an ice cube. Sprinkle salt on top. Wait 15-20 seconds and the salt freezes the thread to the ice cube. Slowly lift your string to find an ice cube attached to the end. Your children have no choice but to admit you are an amazing parent!

Author's Bio: 

Silvana Clark is a professional speaker, encouraging parents to be creative and have fun with their kids! The author of 11 books, she also appears on televison and presents parenting workshops.