Sometimes it is difficult as partners or children of a fantastic mom to really know what to do for Mother’s Day. Here are some non-gift ideas that any mom (or any woman) is guaranteed to love:
1. Words of Appreciation and Affirmation
Parenting is often a thankless job. Every Mom has made countless sacrifices for their children for years before a child is even able to say the words “thank you.” Parenting doesn’t have concrete rewards like earning a paycheck every week, it also doesn’t have any quantifiable measures of success. Words of appreciation and affirmation are a powerful way to not only demonstrate your love and gratitude, but also to validate the incredible role the mom in your life plays.
Words of appreciation and affirmation mean so much more when they are specific. What do you appreciate about her parenting? What does she bring to the table that is unique to her? What are three things you noticed her doing this last week that you thought were fantastic? What gifts and talents have you noticed in her? Get creative about how you share the words of appreciation. Write them in a card, share them with her verbally, write them on her bathroom mirror, print it on a bookmark, shout it from the rooftops…any way you do it I guarantee she will love it.
I recently attended a conference on Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders. The presenter shared that researchers used to think diet, exercise, and sleep were the pillars of wellness. She then surprised everyone by saying, “We were wrong. Sleep is the foundation.” With sleep being the foundation of wellness, I don’t know any moms that feel like they get enough sleep.
If she has a young baby, see if you can take one night or one feeding. Young kids? Put the kids to bed and send her to bed early. Older kids? Identify the chores that are keeping her up late at night and do those chores. Sometimes just giving her permission to get extra sleep will do the trick, and sometimes it will take some convincing. My sister and I started a tradition of taking each other’s babies for a night every few months so the other sister could get sleep. I have never appreciated her more. I know that if the Mom in your life gets a night of beauty rest she will wake up on Mother’s day smiling.
3. Support and encourage her hobbies and interests
What does the Mom in your life love to do? Many moms tend to put their own needs last to the extent that they lose touch with their hobbies and interests. Often having enough time is the biggest barrier for moms in doing things they love.
Does the mom in your life love knitting, tennis, running, reading, massages, etc? See if you can get creative in supporting her interests. Offer childcare so she has time to do one of her favorite things. Sign her up for a class or group activity centered around her interest. Everyone needs an outlet, and so many moms would be so much happier with some creativity, relaxation, exercise, etc. in their lives.
4. Ask the Mom in your life what SHE needs
Similar to the struggle Moms encounter with hobbies and interests, many moms don’t have a lot of time to think about what they need physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually. It is a beautiful gesture to sit down with the mom in your life on Mother’s day and ask her, “what do you need in your life right now?” and follow up with, “I want to support you in making that happen.” Even the happiest moms probably have some secret wishes if you talk about it for long enough. Not only will she appreciate your gesture but it could be a fun bonding activity to ask the questions.
5. Quality time
This seems to be self explanatory, but quality time seems more difficult to come by than ever these days. Spend time with the mom in your life without electronics, TV or any other distractions. Listen to her and look her in the eye when she is talking to you. Stay at home moms walk around every day with a million ideas going through their heads and normally not enough adults to share them with. Some moms have difficulty feeling that their ideas are valuable and important. Working moms may be dealing with sexism in the work place, not feeling heard at their jobs, or feeling like they never have enough time in a day. Quality time with family is a universal luxury and necessity that every Mom will enjoy.
6. Handmade Gifts
Moms are often the ones taking time out with the kids to create hand made gifts with finger paint, stickers and macaroni for others. Often mom’s have their kids make these for other people because they actually want to be given such gifts themselves! Put a baby’s handprint on something for her, have an older child draw a picture of the two of them together, or write a simple note. These gifts will speak to the Mom in your life and cost almost nothing.
Along with these amazing ideas for giving love to the Mom in your life, remember that this day isn’t a happy one for everyone. Find a single mom, a woman struggling with infertility, a mom who has lost a child or who has recently lost her own mother. Go out of your way to give a hug, chocolate, or kind words. Help these women know that they are seen, valued, loved and appreciated for what they contribute. Let them know that they don’t have to be happy or celebrate on Mother’s day.
Last but not least, know that you are amazing for supporting the moms in your life. As I just heard at a conference put on by Postpartum Support International, “We have to give the type of love, nurturance and listening to moms that we want them to give their babies.” We know that the hand that rocks the cradle truly does rule the world, and supporting the moms in our lives will only serve to make for a more peaceful and beautiful world.