To all of the husbands out there who are pulling their hair out trying to come up with the perfect Mother's Day gift… just stop. You are trying way too hard! While gift certificates for a massage or a lovely piece of jewelry are always appreciated, many household budgets are not in a position to accommodate such extravagances right now. Besides, I've got the go-to list for you right here on what Mom is really looking for this Mother's Day:
1. A Day Off
We all know that Moms work hard — that the job description calls for endless amounts of cooking, cleaning, planning, shopping, shuttling, and scheduling. And what Moms need more than anything is a whole day where none of this is Mom's responsibility.
Let's examine closely the definition of "A Day Off." It means that Mom gets to sit around on the couch or lie in bed and do whatever it is that she wants to do. Period. Occasional rounds of kisses and cuddles from the kids and from hubby are encouraged. Pretty much everything else that involves Mom having to think of anyone other than herself — are out.
Now while this sounds so easy ("Oh honey, you just relax and I'll take care of the kids all day"), it starts to fall apart when you have to keep checking in with Mom to ask questions such as:
"What should we make for lunch?"
"What time does Joey need to be at soccer practice?"
"Do we have any more string cheese?"
So listen up, Dad: this takes planning — in advance! You'll need to figure out the schedule for the day and work out the car pool if needed. You'll need to plan the menu for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks — and make sure that you have on hand whatever you need. Because as soon as you start asking Mom those questions of what to do or how to run the house, she starts getting sucked backed into the Mommy-role… and the day off dissolves.
One final piece of advice: The home needs to be left in the exact condition on which it was found on Saturday night. Think of this like camping — carry in / carry out. If Mom has to wake up on Monday morning and start cleaning the kitchen from the day-long Mother's Day extravaganza… well, as Marlin said in Finding Nemo, "Good feeling's gone!"
And bonus points are given to the Dad who plans ahead and packs the school lunches and helps the kids get their clothes picked out for Monday morning, so Mom can ease back into her motherly routine the next day.
2. A Chance to Sleep In
Everyone thinks that it would be decadent for Mom to feast on breakfast in bed on Mother's day morning. But the truth is, Mom just wants unending quiet so that for the first time in 2011, she can sleep in past sunrise. That means no cute little wet sloppy kisses when the toddlers wake up. That means get the dog up and out of the room nice and early. Oh, and Dads, you need to make this happen without the use of an alarm clock! (Because having you hit the snooze button 46 times doesn't facilitate Mom's sleeping in!)
Besides, breakfast in bed just leads to crumbs under the covers that Mom will have to clean out on Monday.
3. Give Her Something From the Heart
Now, I am not trying to get all "Tiger Mom" on you and tell you that the little card that your 7-year-old scrawled out in 32 seconds at the kitchen table isn't good enough… but, well, maybe it's not. So Dads, I am suggesting a little advance planning in this department too. I'm not saying you have to go all crafty and spend hours trolling the aisles at Michael's trying to come up with something deep and meaningful that your preschooler can pull off. But working with your kids a day or two beforehand to brainstorm reasons why they really love Mommy might go a long way toward creating the kind of touching "Hallmark moment" that every Mom loves.
And if you would like to do something on an even grander scale, I'll share this idea that my husband came up with several years ago. He created this canvas that he called "A Mother's Garden" and worked with the kids to finger-paint the sky and the grass, and then used their handprints to create the flowers and the tree. The best part is that he created this project when we only had four kids, and then as new members joined our clan, he added their prints in the following Mother's Day. This canvas hangs in my kitchen where I can look at it every day.
So that's it, Dads. Three things that cost nothing, but would mean the world to all of us. But you can't just wing this — you need to plan it in advance! So get moving!