I’m not going to beat around the bush here. I’ll just say it like it is. All the hype around Mother’s Day is ridiculous. For a holiday that’s supposed to celebrate the precious relationship between a mother and her child, there sure is a lot to distract me from that relationship.
I mean, give me a break. My mother does not need any more bath stuff. If she’s at all like me, she’s gotten enough lotion over the years to soothe her skin into the 23rd century! And she doesn’t want any chocolate. In fact, it’s my dad who likes that, way more than she does. Let’s face it. If you have a strong enough relationship with your mother to want to buy her a gift for Mother’s Day, most of the gifts out there scream GENERIC!!!
It’s not that Mom doesn’t deserve an extravagantly expensive celebration of her day; it’s just that over-the-top gifts and parties may not be feasible on a budget. And speaking as a mom, I can say that what matters most to me on Mother’s Day isn’t the amount of money spent (in fact, I get more of a kick out of saving money, usually). What makes Mother’s Day special to me is two things: First, getting a free pass out of normal mom work like laundry, cleaning, cooking, and the like. Second, getting to spend time with my family. Peruse the list below for plenty of ideas that won’t cost you but will still make your mom feel special.
Give Mom the Day Off
This should be the absolute minimum you do to celebrate Mother’s Day, anyway — give her a day off from all the mundane stuff she does, without complaining, day after day. Pitch in, get the whole family involved, and do the work for her.
Take the Kids to the Park and Give Mom Some Quiet Time
Listen, I know a mom loves being her with kids but, especially for moms of young kids, having a little peace and quiet time is truly one of the ultimate gifts you can give. Pack up the kids, go to the park for an hour or two, and leave Mom at home to nap, watch a movie in peace, read a book, or do her nails… whatever she wants!
Make and Deliver Breakfast in Bed
Yes, it’s as cliched as giving Dad a tie for Father’s Day, but there’s a good reason here. Moms are usually the ones who hop (or crawl) out of bed and get everybody going in the morning. She deserves a break. Make a nice breakfast, deliver it to her in bed, and let her enjoy a morning off.
Take the Family Out for a Picnic at the Park
Get in the kitchen and make some sandwiches, pasta salad, or some other portable meal. Gather up all the picnic supplies (try not to ask Mom what you should take). Then whisk everybody away to a local park for a picnic and some play time outdoors. Take a walk, sit around, talk to people, play volleyball, or go at night and watch the stars. Mom’s choice.
Take a Hike
Picnic optional. Scout out some new scenery in the area, gather up the gear, and take the family on a leisurely (or energetic) hike. This is one of my favorite family activities; I love being outside, and I love especially being outside with my family.
Scout Your Area for Free Concerts or Events
Several parks in my area have free concerts over the spring and summer. There are also different festivals, farmer’s markets, plays, walks, and more. Search for free local events and music in your area, and take the whole family.
Have a Surprise Party
Not every mom will want a surprise party on Mother’s Day, so be sensitive to what the mom in your life will enjoy. I happen to love parties and especially love surprise parties, so the idea of having a surprise party on Mother’s Day — one at which the dads and kids are responsible for all the planning, prepping, and clean-up — sounds insanely fun. You have to be serious about pulling this off right, though. No fair planning it and then making Mom handle the clean-up. Do it all!
Tackle a Project Together
My mother-in-law has a long-standing request for Mother’s Day — she wants her “boys” to come over and help out with whatever current project is at hand. We usually plan a casual lunch together sometime on Mother’s Day weekend, then my father-in-law and the three grown-up boys go finish up the project while us girls either sit inside and corral the kids or go outside and cheer the men on. It’s a no-cost, fun, and productive celebration.
Have a Family Movie Night
Family time is important for most moms, and finding time to do things together gets more and more difficult as kids get older and have their own social circles, jobs, and events. So dedicate Mother’s Day night to a special family movie night; Mom gets to pick the movies. Dad and kids provide meal and/or movie-appropriate snacks, and everyone gets to settle in for some chill time together.
Spend time with your mom
I know, it’s a shocker. But the truth is that most moms I know want to hear from their kids more than they do. If you’re a mom, it’s one thing to hear from your kid often, even every day, and completely another to feel like you’re part of their life. You can even do this if you live far away from your mom. Give her a call and let her know you want to talk for a while, or set up a phone date ahead of time so you’ll both be free to focus on each other. Then ask her about herself, how her days are going and what she’s feeling. Focus on hearing her heart. After all, this is the woman who birthed you…maybe knowing her will help you know yourself better, and that’s never a bad thing.
Write down your memories of her
Many moms love to know what their kids remember from childhood and how they perceived the things that happened then. Make a list of these for your mom, focusing on ones that highlight positive changes in your relationship with her. Make the list pretty, and give it to her. Or, tear each memory off in a strip, fold it up and put it in a jar. Give her the sealed jar for Mother’s Day, and she can pull out a memory every day until they’re gone. If you run short on memories, do the same with lessons you’ve learned from her.
Take photos with her
Was your mom one of those people who has every family event for the last 30 years documented in extensive photographic detail? Then spend some time getting pictures taken with her. Take her to a favorite park or garden, or do it in your own backyard. While you can hire a professional photographer, all you really need is a digital camera and someone who knows how to operate it. Your poses can be silly or serene, but no matter how they turn out, taking them will make your mom’s day.
Clean her house
I know a few people who like to clean, but even they can find it overwhelming when life gets busy. So pick up a bucket and a mop and show mom that you really do remember all her lessons on scrubbing the house. You don’t have to clean everything and you don’t even have to to the best job ever. As long as you’re willing to get your hands dirty, she’ll be happy, and relieved that she didn’t have to do it herself!
Instead of focusing your love on your mom only at Mother’s Day, come up with a comprehensive plan to love her year-round. This doesn’t have to be hard. Maybe it means you call her every-other Sunday instead of whenever-you-feel-like-it-which-sometimes-means-a-month-goes-by-without-talking. Put her in your calendar, or ask an assistant to put it in theirs and remind you when the time comes. Your mom might not notice the difference on Mother’s Day, but she’ll appreciate the thought throughout the year.
Here’s hoping that one of these ideas will work for you, or will spark a desire in you to do something that will show your mom how much you value that relationship.