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Ask a mother what she really wants for Mother’s Day (and we have asked a lot) and chances are most of the responses will boil down to just one thing: to feel appreciated. It’s not about the size of the gift, the use of the gift, but what it actually represents - an acknowledgment that what she does for the family is invaluable and irreplaceable. In most families, mothers are the engine and the glue - keeping it all together and keeping it moving forward. No matter how far we have come in gender and parental relations, studies show mothers do more outright, do things that are not even acknowledged as being work, and also have some seemingly superhuman powers. So, how to give the amazing Mama in your life what she really wants this year? Here are 16, mostly free ways to make her feel appreciated. Almost all of them can, and should, be given all throughout the year, not just on the one day we set aside for celebrating mothers (but it’s a good start!). Fathers/Co-parents, this list is for you (with any kids old enough as your assistant).
1. A REAL day off. Be the go-to parent for everything, every meal, every complaint, every outfit and nappy change. Referee the fights! Take the kids out without asking Mom what they should do. Mama needs a break from being in charge and from decision-making. This is the gift mothers told us they wanted the most!
2. Out of the blue thank you note. Pin it on the bathroom mirror in the morning, on her car steering wheel, on top of her phone, or on social media if you think she’d be comfortable with it. Watch her tear up.
3. Slideshow or short movie of collated photos and videos of her with the kids. You’ll need to plan this out especially if there aren’t that many photos of her (because she is the one who usually has her phone out to take a photo) or if they are all on her phone. Animoto and Magisto are two great sites for creating quick and easy slideshows and videos with pre-made templates.
4. Do your to-dos. Have a list of chores she would like you to tackle? Do them all and present her with a list concluding with a big fat DONE at the bottom. Watch her beam.
5. Do HER to-dos. Ask her what her to-do list looks like this week (even just letting her tell you is an act of appreciation) and offer to take over anything you can.
6. Clean. Anything. Even if you are good at picking up after yourself, chances are she does most of the cleaning in the house - take a room, a kitchen counter, a closet and, unasked, tidy it up. Watch her jaw drop. (If you want to cheat - hire a cleaner or a home organization service).
7. Staycation for one. Book her into a hotel with a high thread count, great room service and a spa. Sometimes the only way to get a good night’s sleep is to know the kids are not in reach.
8. Set up a home spa. Why choose this over an off-site spa? It is cheaper, easier logistically for new Mamas still breastfeeding around the clock, you can involve older kids and the experience can be repeated throughout the year. Choose some bath products, candles, soothing teas (or bubbly!), add a favorite book or create a relaxing music playlist to top it off. Include older kids in setting up. Put everything in an easy to reach, pretty box and carve out a few days over the next few months where you will relieve her long enough for her to really pamper herself without stepping out.
9. Take meal planning and prep off her plate for a week. Prepare recipe ideas for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner for kids and adults, then create the grocery list to match (do the groceries as well!). Huge chunk of time saved for her!
10. Fill the fridge with healthy lunches for her for the week. Mothers notoriously don’t have time to make something nutritious for themselves. We love this list from Sweetpeas and Saffron with make-ahead healthy lunch bowls. We guarantee she will be blown away by this gesture.
11. Family outing not planned by her. Mothers do need time away but they also need less stressful time with the kids - time that they can enjoy without worrying about details. Plan an outing or series of outings for the entire family. Pack the baby or kids bag with whatever is needed including snacks or meals. Buy the tickets. Get everyone out the door on time. These are the small things that add up in a big way. Scour the “What’s On” listings in your hometown for ideas or choose a favorite location.
12. A nice family photo. Get everyone dressed and ready to pose. Arrange a blowout (that means a hair appointment) for her if you think she’d like it. Have a professional or even just a friend come by and take some snaps she will cherish, all the more so, because she didn’t have to plan them.
13. Let her lock herself in the bedroom. This sounds so crazy, but lying in bed without being interrupted until you are actually bored of lying in bed is something that sounds heavenly to most mothers. Treat it like a bunker, with snacks, drinks, laptop, movies, books. She can sleep, read, relax, binge out on social media without guilt. Do not let anyone, especially a child, even knock. Bonus points for arranging white noise to drown out the chaos outside.
14. Memory jar. Fill a jar with little notes of memories with her and if your kids are old enough, have them contribute. If she ever needs a reminder of how valuable she is - all she has to do is pick out a memory.
15. 10 Reasons why. Have all kids who can talk prepare a list of 10 reasons why Mama is so amazing. Write your list too, especially if your kids are too young to do this. Recite it to her and give her a copy. Canva is a great way to create a beautiful graphic or list you can print.
16. Donation in her name. Honor her by spreading the love she creates in your family every day, to others (preferably a cause close to her heart). Combine this with any of the above ideas by handing her an envelope with a printed acknowledgement of your donation. Baby Hero will create a custom printout for you if you fund 1 or more Neonatal Survival Kits. Each one will give life-saving medical products to mothers and newborns in need - a great way to recognise how much we owe all the mothers in our life.
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