Everyone tries to figure out what Mom really wants for Mother’s Day. New shoes? (Which shoes?) A spa day? (Which spa, and which treatments?) Books? (Which ones?) Breakfast in bed? (Made by the kids? What can they make that she will eat?)
It’s really quite simple. It’s an inverse relationship to how much they see their kids. The less mom sees them on a regular day, the more she wants to see them on Mother’s Day. The more she is with them on a regular day. the more she really just wants some time without the kids, much as she loves them. It really is that simple.
I’ve been at home since shortly before our first was born and I have a lot of friends who are, or have been, stay at home moms. When the kids are little, or during summer vacation, or really anytime they are home non-stop for weeks or months on end, Mom wants a break. Just a little time to herself, with no one asking her to do anything for them. As they get bigger and spend more and more time with their friends and activities, that changes a little. There are still times Mom needs a break, but there’s a good chance that she’ll really appreciate doing a special family activity on Mother’s Day instead of just wanting some time alone.
Once they move out, what she wants more than anything is probably to have them visit.
A Perfect Day – sans kids
Make breakfast with the kids, then leave without waking her up, but do let her know the night before that she’ll get to sleep in and have a day to herself. That way, if she wants to say goodbye before you leave, she can tell you. If it’s a hot breakfast, leave a covered plate in the fridge for her to reheat when she comes down. If it’s something more like muffins, leave a plate in the microwave for her. (This keeps it safe from pets and bugs.)
If one or both grandmas live nearby, arrange in advance to bring the grandkids for a visit. They may even be happy to watch them without you so you and your beloved can spend some time together. This should earn you serious brownie points with the grandmas, especially if you do it on Mother’s Day and they get to see their own child (you or your spouse) at some point in the day.
After you tell her you are taking the kids out and she gets a day to herself, ask what she wants to do, then make it so. It may not be exactly what she wants (I’m not getting Hamilton tickets anytime soon), but hopefully you can get close. (There will be a touring show near us sometime next year.)
If you want to take her out to do something or arrange a special outing for her and one or more kids, I honestly think Groupon is a great place for ideas. (Living Social is another option, but they are actually now owned by Groupon.) Look under “Things to Do” and have the kids look too. They may spot something you missed. My youngest found tickets to a local Cake Show, something my husband would’ve just skipped past. (We got an amazing selection of mini-cupcakes.) Since we like to bake cakes together, it was a lot of fun.
The variety of activities available is truly endless, but here are a few that look like fun mother-child classes.
- Cooking, pottery, or painting classes
- Segway or bus tour of local tourist areas
- Escape rooms
- Laser tag or paintball
- Bowling, tennis, shooting, and all manner of sports
- Tickets to see pro (or not pro) sports
- Tickets to see musical and theatrical performances, including Cirque
- Cheesemaking and other cooking kits to use at home
You should be getting the idea but the variety is amazing, and some of them are good for date nights as well a family outing. Others are a good way to bond and have fun with the kids, especially teens.
There are at least 500 Mother’s Day shopping lists on the internet, but the same principal applies. If she’s with the kids, doing this with the kids, and generally at their activities all the time, then she will probably want something for herself, even if it’s a simple item like a new book or music. If the kids are older, a game (board, video, computer – whatever her preference) the family can play together or a movie (or TV series) to watch together, and a commitment to actually do that, could be priceless for her.
Are spa and bath products a good idea? You tell me. Does she use them? If you look under her sink, do you see a variety of spa-type products covered in dust, possibly even discolored by age? If so, odds are she won’t use them. If the bathtub has spiderwebs, a thin coating of dust, or is otherwise covered in “stuff”, odds are she doesn’t use and it and won’t use products like bath salts. On the other hand, cleaning the tub, running her a hot bath complete with scented bubbles, a glass of wine, and the time to enjoy it uninterrupted would probably make a good gift. (Who doesn’t like a good soak?) If you want to go all-out and give her a day at the spa, make sure she has the time for a day at the spa. (You should already know if she has the interest.) Take care of the kids, the house, the pets, and anything else she normally does so she can enjoy the day off.
And no matter what, finishing something that has been on her Honey-Do list for a long time (years?) will probably make her happy. (But I wouldn’t skip buying a gift unless you are seriously broke.) It may be the gift that gives her the most happiness for the longest time. Added bonus: She won’t be nagging you about it anymore.