HEY YOU! THIS SUNDAY IS MOTHER’S DAY, and you still have time to make it GREAT.
Yeah, most of us barely know what day it is, and admittedly, we (moms) can be hard to shop for (sorry). Add the restrictions of quarantine and not having teachers and daycares to help us make gifts—this year’s Mother’s Day could end up in some, well, not-so-warm-and-fuzzies. But have no fear! If you have a mom* in your life, it can be easier than you think to GO BIG and celebrate her the way she feels loved with just a little planning.
I interact with parents professionally and have been a hard-to-shop-for mom for years. Many years. The other day I was on a Zoom call with a few moms. We were talking about self-care and how we’re all creating (or not creating) time for it while staying at home with our kids 24/7. One mom mentioned how her husband has been putting the kids to bed, while she sneaks off for a long shower followed up with a beer and a book. Another mom said taking a long run is how she recharges. It reminded me that we’re all so different. We recharge differently. We care for ourselves differently. We receive love differently too.
This concept of how each of us uniquely receives love has been coined as the “love languages.” You might have heard of The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. It’s the book your pastor may have asked you to read in premarital counseling. Maybe you read and implemented all its principles, or perhaps you took the quiz with your partner and forgot all about it. One thing I do know:
If you want to succeed this Mother’s Day, show her love in her language.
Figure out how the mom in your life receives love. There are five love languages—Quality Time, Physical Touch, Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, and Gifts. You can take a quiz (or have her take it, especially if she doesn’t like surprises), guess based on how well you know her, or simply ask. The beauty of figuring out mom’s love language is that you’re giving her the Mother’s Day that makes her feel and know that she is loved. If her love language is acts of service, a diamond necklace might seem thoughtful to you, but it’s actually unnecessarily expensive and might just sit in a box when doing her chores for the day is actually a win. Still unsure? Here are some examples of each love language. If your mom is new to motherhood, see how she has shown or received love in the past with those closest to her.
- Quality Time: Mom loves everyone home for dinner. Her favorite thing to do on the weekend is to spend time with the family. Mom would rather watch her kids play sports than the professionals.
- Physical touch: Mom is a cuddler. She’s always hugging kids and pulling them close. She doesn’t miss a night of tucking them in and kissing them good-night.
- Words of affirmation: Mom loves to encourage her kids. When they accomplish a task, she praises them. When they do something amazing, she’s reminding them over and over what a great kid they are. She loves to write notes and maybe saves cards people give her.
- Acts of service: Mom gets the family to help out making cookies for the school bake sale. Mom is always the one to volunteer at school, church, or help out with a neighborhood event. Mom encourages her kids to find ways to serve their teacher and their classmates.
- Gifts: Mom loves to sneak little surprises in her kid’s backpack. When mom goes out of town, she brings home souvenirs for everyone. She loves buying gifts for birthdays, holidays, and any day really.
Come up with a great idea based on her love language. Because I want you to win this Mother’s Day, here are some examples for each love language:
- Quality Time: Let mom pick the activity and spend the day together as a family. She may even need a separate day post-quarantine to spend with all her friends.
- Physical touch: Give her coupons for massages, hugs, and manicures done by the kids (or the professionals). Snuggle in close for movie night or hold her hand on a walk.
- Words of affirmation: Write her a note or make your own cards. Make a list of the things you love about her and hide love notes throughout the house.
- Acts of service: Clean the house, plant her favorite flowers, wash her car, do her chores for the day, week (month, or year!) Make her dinner, and clean up before and after. You get the idea.
- Gifts: What does she love? Buy it. Flowers, chocolate, and coffee shop gift cards are always a great idea.
Take action. Plan what you’re going to do or give her, and get moving. Don’t wait until Sunday morning at 7am. You’ll panic. The kids will spoil the surprise. The bacon will burn. Now, that can be half the fun, but show Mom you thought ahead of time. It will be to your benefit, too. I promise.
Are you still reading? Have that queasy stomach feeling like a report is due tomorrow, but you can’t even find the directions, let alone started? Has your creativity stopped when you began only wearing sweat-pants six weeks ago? I polled some moms for Mother’s Day ProTips. Here’s their top ten.
Mother’s Day in Quarantine Top Ten:
- Take a picture of your kids with their mom. Moms are usually behind the camera, not in the picture. Don’t just take one picture and say, “I did it!” You have to get one she likes, which might mean taking many pictures. The extra effort will be worth it if you can capture one that helps her remember this season of motherhood with a smile.
- Whatever mom usually does around the house, give her the day off on Mother’s Day.
- Homemade is better than store-bought—moms love stuff their kids make. Get out some paper and markers.
- Burnt toast made by kids is precious. Burnt toast prepared and served by an adult isn’t precious. Extra points if the kids serve mom in bed.
- If mom says she doesn’t want anything—don’t believe her. Go buy or make her something.
- Write at least three sentences in her Mother’s Day card. The stuff Hallmark wrote doesn’t count. Not sure what to say? Start with “I love how you __” and/or “Thank you for _____” with a few specifics.
- Serve mom her favorite drink all alone—even if it has to be in the closet or bathtub.
- If mom tells you what she wants, believe her, even if you think it’s a dumb idea. (Extra ProTip—moms really do love those pavers you make with kids handprints.)
- Mom doesn’t want practical stuff for Mother’s Day. Don’t buy those kitchen gadgets or yard tools. (Unless she’s told you that’s what she wants. Then see ProTip #8). Trust us.
- Carry out is love. No food prep. No cleanup. Let her pick, don’t make her order, and major bonus points if she gets to eat while it’s still hot!
If you know a single mom, this would be a great weekend to celebrate her. With teachers and daycare providers typically helping kids prepare gifts and cards for Mother’s Day, many single moms I spoke with are wondering if their kids will even know it’s Mother’s Day. Drop off flowers, send her a card, get a gift card for a local restaurant. What you do doesn’t matter nearly as much as just doing something. Show her she is known.
Parenting can be challenging at any time, but especially in the middle of quarantine. Mother’s Day is a great opportunity to throw some extra TLC mom’s way. And don’t stress. It doesn’t have to be fancy. The most requested item by moms in our unofficial survey was a homemade card or letter from the kids or a picture of mom with the kids.
Yes, Mother’s Day is this weekend. But don’t stress. She’s going to feel so loved if you take action. Get after it, people, and Happy Mother’s Day.
PS: Mom, if you’re the one reading and wishing your loved ones would try some of this, go ahead and forward it to them. I know my people, and probably yours too, are notoriously bad mind readers, so they’ll probably appreciate not having to wonder or guess how to celebrate you.
*This mom could be your own mother, your spouse, baby mama, a bereaved mom, your sister, aunt, friend who just became a mom, or a single mother. Whoever you think needs to be celebrated, celebrate them.