As a nurse who's a mom and a midwife who's a nurse, Anna Cherry has extra insight into what makes a mother feel loved.
Whether you're the spouse of a hard-working mom or trying to come up with a plan for your own mother or another adult who nurtures and cares for children in the community, Cherry had these tips for gifting and celebrating on Mother's Day and beyond:
Do the detail work so mom doesn't have to.
Mothers who work as nurses are just one example of moms who tend to be overworked and giving their all to the family, says Cherry, a certified nurse midwife at Atlanta's Emory School of Medicine. Celebrating mom should be about taking pressure off hard-working moms as much as anything. "Try to take any work out of that gift or celebration," she says. Instead of giving a gift card for the spa, for example, Cherry recommends following her husband's example and actually checking out her schedule and making the appointment, and paying ahead of time. Sure, you might lose some of the surprise value, but having a gift that only requires mom to show up and enjoy more than makes up for it. The same goes for the traditional brunch or lunch out. If Mom is making the reservations and ringing up the rest of the family, that's more work for her and it's not as meaningful (or as stress-relieving.)
Skip the gift cards.
Gasp! No gift card? Cherry is sorry to be the one to tell you this convenient and reliable gift is not the best choice for mom. "Personally, I hate them," she says. She has many reasons to be down on gift cards: They may not be for a vendor mom likes, they're hard to remember to use, they still might involve added funds from the recipient (for, say, tips or postage) and she might just lose it. "I personally lost a gift card one time, and that adds guilt to what's supposed to be a thoughtful gift," Cherry says.
Gift cards for dollar amounts can backfire, too.
Moms already have a tendency to focus all their time and money on others. If you give her a gift card for a store or discretionary spending, she's going to spend it on someone else every time. And even when a gift card is for a service, like a pedicure or massage, there's always a chance Mom will regift, Cherry reminds. "I know I have," she says. "You get busy, need a gift and just grab your own gift card and hand it off to someone else."
Let her sleep.
Really, really sleep. "It is nice to have at least one morning when you can sleep in, when your spouse or a friend can just take your kid for the whole morning," Cherry says. Celebrations "don't have to be the whole day, but a good sleep, that's something you can't pay for with any amount of money."
Spend some money, if you have it.
Of course moms will always want those handmade cards. And they'll always tell the children, "Just anything, as long as it's from you!" if asked what they want for Mother's Day, a birthday, anniversary or what-have-you. But from her perspective working with expecting moms, including those who have more than one child, Cherry can heartily recommend spending a little extra on the big occasions, if you have it.
"There are so many times women, especially mothers, are more willing to spend money on other's than themselves,"she says. "I'll go shopping for my son, for example, but I can't tell you the last time I bought clothes for myself. As mothers we're expected to put others first, so it's really nice to have somebody else think of you and shower you with something."
Gift from start to finish.
If you are short on funds, no worries. There are still lots of ways to make mom feel showered with love, Cherry says. "It doesn't have to be monetary. As I tell my patients who can't afford massage, 'Everyone knows how to rub someones feet and back. You can do this for free, you don't need to be a professional."
As for other low-key, small budget gifts for mom, Cherry recommends making sure you give the gift of time at the same time. "Make them dinner and then do the dishes!" she says. "Make sure you're the one going to the grocery store and cleaning up before and afterwards. Or do the laundry and put it away. That is an amazing gift."
This is also a wonderful time to let women in your life who are important in your child's life and the community know they're loved and appreciated, even if they're not a biological mother, Cherry says. She includes in that category the women constantly made to feel like "just the step mom" when they're doing the things a mother has been absent for, and those who function as "bonus moms." "Lots of aunts and grandmothers fill that role as well," Cherry says, and should be remembered on Mother's Day and beyond.
And she especially focuses on efforts that will acknowledge women who have had still births or are coping with infertility. "You don't have to have a child living to be a mother," she says. "Especially women who have had losses due to miscarriage, that is just like losing a child to them."
She recommends reaching out to women in that situation via social media or a quick note. "Let them know they're not invisible, and that they are loved.
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