Mother's Day is just around the corner, and sure, you could get the person who gave you the gift of life (or, in the case of your partner, the gift of your children) some flowers, another novelty mug, and treat her to brunch mayhem in an over-crowded restaurant.
Or — hear us out — you could finally clean the damn car, then let her binge-watch the truly terrible 15th season of "Grey's Anatomy" while she stuffs her face with takeout sushi (from the nice place she likes, not that garbage from the grocery store). Guess which one most moms would actually prefer?
Only five per cent of moms want a physical gift for Mother's Day, according to a 2018 survey from the mom-friend app, Peanut. What they actually want is a break, whether it's sleep (26 per cent) or a "break from the mama routine" (35 per cent). It's no surprise that moms just want some downtime from all their daily juggling, Michelle Kennedy, CEO and cofounder of Peanut, told NBC News.
Watch: Mother's Day activities she'll actually enjoy. Story continues below.
This Mother's Day, instead of giving the mom in your life a token gift, why don't you make her feel appreciated and seen with these ideas?
Give her: a clean house/car/mind
Hey, you know that list of stuff around the house she keeps asking you to tackle? The car that spills garbage into the laneway every time you open a door? The dozens of half-packed boxes she trips over every time she does laundry, even though you moved in 2014?
What if you finally cleaned all that crap?
Women in Canada still do the bulk of the housework, according to Statistics Canada, clocking in more than an hour than men every single day. And mess causes stress, making it more difficult to relax when we're surrounded by clutter.
This Mother's Day, give mom a break: from cleaning, thinking about what still needs to be cleaned, and reminding people to clean up after themselves. Even better, do it in the week leading up to Mother's Day, so she can spend her special day feeling zen in her de-cluttered surroundings. And recruit the kids to help!
Trust us, she'd much prefer that over drinking from her novelty "I Love Mom!" mug while staring down seven loads of laundry and that carpet stain from where the cat puked.
Give her: time
Today's moms are stretched thin. Four in 10 moms in a recent U.S. study said their lives feel like a "never-ending series of tasks." That same study found that moms who also have paid jobs end up working 98 hours per week (to put that in perspective, there are only 168 hours in a week). Another study found that women in dual-income households were more likely than their male partners to spend their weekends watching the kids and getting stuff done around the house.
Whether she works outside the house or not, so much of a mom's time is spent taking care of her family. This Mother's Day, give her time to take care of herself.
WATCH: The brutal truth about sleep deprivation. Story continues below.
Let her get a good night's sleep. If you have young kids, sneak out of the room early, and take the baby monitor with you. That way mom can sleep in without first waking up to the sound of her darlings screaming for breakfast.
Take the kids to the park so mom can have a leisurely shower, finally apply that facial mask she bought on a whim of optimism, and pumice the soles of her gnarled hooves — we mean, feet. If she's into yoga, or feel like maybe she could be, sign her up for a surprise evening class and promise to feed the kids a healthy dinner every Wednesday so she'll actually go.
Finally, give her stress-free time with her family. Plan a picnic or a day at the park, but do all the actual planning yourself, right down to remembering the kid's sunscreen and cutting toddler snacks into non-choking-sized pieces. Taking care of all the minutae will allow her to actually be present on her special day.
Give her: self-indulgence
And no, we don't mean a day at the spa. We mean let her indulge her actual but often ignored self-wants, whether it's a "Pitch Perfect" marathon on the couch, journalling in her favourite patio chair while devouring copious amounts of guac, or going for a solo jog followed by patio beers.
So many women lose themselves in motherhood, slowly forgetting about their old interests and wants as their days instead become about meal planning to appease picky eaters and looking up online reviews of pediatric dentists.
Remind her that she's still in there with the gift of letting her do whatever the eff she wants. Treat her to her favourite meal — no, not the go-to meal that appeases everyone's picky tastebuds and gets from fridge-to-table in 20 minutes on a weeknight, but her actual, favourite food.
Watch a marathon of her favourite TV show with her. Set her free in a bookstore and tell her to buy any title she wants, then set her up in the backyard to enjoy flipping the pages.
Give her: memories
So much of parenthood is routine, planning, and more routine. Making breakfast. Getting kids dressed for school. Chasing them around the house with a toothbrush. Drop offs. Warning calls from the teacher about a lice outbreak. Pickups. Making dinner. Chasing them around the house trying to get them in the bath. Telling them if they don't stay in their beds they have to stay home from soccer practice tomorrow. Asking your local Facebook mom group whether following through on that threat is good parenting or bad teamwork. Checking your own head for lice.
All that leaves very little time to just enjoy family life! So give some some happy memories for Mother's Day, whether it's a day at the park together, a family movie and cuddle sesh, or a care-free picnic in the backyard.
Also, give her actual physical memories. Print some of the 5,000 family photos clogging up the storage on her phone and organize them in a photo album. She probably already feels super guilty about not doing that herself, so why not give her a lovely gift and ease her burden at the same time?
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