For more than 100 years, Americans have celebrated Mother’s Day thanks to the efforts of Anna Jarvis who in 1905 went to great lengths to honor and memorialize her own mother. President Woodrow Wilson made it official in 1910 and marked the second Sunday of every May as Mother’s Day. As with many holidays, it’s over commercialized, but thankfully we all have brains and can use them when deciding how best to appreciate our own mothers.
Every mom is different and every season of motherhood is different. The gifts we give vary depending on the mom. For example, a mother in her 60’s would love a leisurely brunch with her adult children, however a mom of twin one-year-olds might choke as she nervously inhales her food trying to get out before the kids melt down. You get the idea.
Based on my own mom experience and taking an unscientific poll of my mom friends, here’s a list of what I believe mom’s really want for Mother’s Day.
THE GIFT OF SLEEP
The life of a mom is plagued with exhaustion. Years of sleep deprivation have become the norm. By all means, give the tired mom in your life some rest. Get up with the kids in the morning so she doesn’t have to, and don’t just do it on Mother’s Day. If your weekends allow it, let mom sleep in on Saturdays and dad, you sleep in on Sundays. It’s a team effort. If late mornings aren’t an option, give the tired mom earplugs and send her off for an afternoon nap.
HANDMADE GIFTS FROM THE HEART
Hands down, this is the most meaningful gift to a mom. A homemade card with the scribbles of love written all over it will melt any moms heart. Dads, it’s up to you to get the kids creative juices flowing. Although a big shout out to teachers who pick up the slack and send our kids home with the best Mother’s Day crafts and cards.
Here are three ideas I personally love: 1) Your child’s handprint, whether in plaster or even stamped onto a card. It’s like capturing time forever. 2) Self portraits – ask your child to draw a self portrait of mommy and then interview the child about their mom. For example, ask them questions like, “What does mommy like to drink?” “What does mommy do?” or “Describe what your mommy looks like,” and write their answers around the drawing. Kids say the funniest things and this is sure to bring a smile to mom’s heart. 3) If you want to pass off the creativity to someone else, find a silhouette artist and have them done for the moms in your life. Even grandmothers will love this traditional and timeless gift.
QUALITY FAMILY TIME (But Without The Work)
For the moms who want to spend all day with their kiddos on Mother’s Day, God bless you. But here’s the thing fathers – you have to do all the work to make it a special, stress-free and responsibility-free day for the moms. A day where she isn’t the activities director, meal planner, the sibling referee, the house cleaner, or the wait staff. Give her the luxury of enjoying her children in a work-free environment. Maybe it’s a family bike ride, a trip to the beach, a picnic in the park. Just make it as painless, easy and as fun as possible.
There are plenty of moms who love the idea of family time, but who also want a break. Don’t feel guilty if you want to sneak away for a few hours on Mother’s Day. Go get your nails done, go shopping, go out to lunch with a friend or go for a leisurely walk. Just do something you want to do. It’s amazing how refreshed a mom can feel when she has time to hear herself think. And dads, rally the kids to clean up the house before she gets home. No mom wants to come home to a mess she either has to nag her kids to clean up or worse, she cleans up herself.
TO BE PAMPERED
This is the easiest gift to give and is guaranteed to make mom happy. Send her to a nail salon for a manicure and pedicure, or to a spa for a day of relaxation and massage. Simple and truly delightful. If you want to get the kids involved, ask them to create their own spa parlor complete with a manicure and pedicure station and chair massages. Then send mom and even Grandma to be their first and only clients.
Every mom needs help, but a majority don’t ask for it. Give your mom the gift of a helper. Maybe it’s hiring a housekeeper for the day, or a babysitter for the night. Or maybe she needs the skills of a professional organizer or an interior decorator. Whatever area of her house, or her life, needs some extra attention, give it to her. And if you can’t hire someone, put the kids to work and teach them how to do chores. This will be a gift which keeps on giving.
MOM’S NIGHT OUT
Moms can’t get through motherhood without their girlfriends. Friendships keep us sane and remind us we’re not going crazy or if we are, our friends are going crazy, too. Give the mom in your life the gift of time with a friend and send her for a night out, or a weekend away with her best girlfriends. It’s medicine to her soul.
BREAKFAST IN BED
It’s the cliche Mother’s Day activity, but it never gets old. Make it even better and tell mom to stay in bed and catch up on her favorite TV shows or finish the book she never gets to read. It’s the gift of guilt-free veg time.
Personally, if someone could browse through my thousands of digital photos and make a Mother’s Day photo book for me, I’d be in Heaven. I’m great at taking photos and posting to Facebook, but printing them out is another story. Dads, do your wife a favor and print out her favorite photos, even if it’s just a few to hang on the wall. A picture is worth a thousand words.
I know. How impersonal, but give the mom in your life a chance for “guilt free” shopping as one of my close friends puts it. She can buy things without having to rationalize why she does or doesn’t need that cute new dress. My go-to gift card for my own mother is a Nordstrom gift card. She and I love to shop there, and she appreciates the donation towards her spring or summer wardrobe.
And last but not least, give mom a piece of jewelry which symbolizes her significant role in life as mom. There are tons of ideas to choose from like birthstone necklaces, photo lockets, kids initials, personalized rings and more. One of my favorite Mother’s Day necklaces is a three pendant piece with the first initial of my kids and husband. Truth be told, I bought it for myself!
Motherhood is the toughest job. You can never resign, you give it your all, you sacrifice, you rarely get a thank you, and you do it everyday. Mother’s Day is like our annual job review where we get all the accolades and we’re rewarded with a bonus. Soak it in because it’ll have to sustain you for a year!
Lastly, for all those who’ve lost their dear moms, may the memories you have of her bring you a smile today. Happy Mother’s Day!