Mother’s Day with less stress and more meaning

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Mother’s Day can be such a wonderful day. It’s a great time to be with our kids and think about our mothers and celebrate all that we have and are as moms.

But Mother’s Day can also be stressful. What can you do for your mom, grandma and mother-in-law that would mean a lot to her? What are your husband and kids planning? Sometimes our hopes and expectations of ourselves and our loved ones can get a little out of whack and rob us of the beautiful things the day can offer.

To help you figure out how to make this Mother’s Day full of meaningful giving and reduce the stress that can be involved, here are some relatively simple tried-and-true ideas for you — and some you might want to pass along to your husband and kids (they generally appreciate some “hints”). You’ll see that the ideas here are mostly things you can do with a computer, a camera, and paper and crayons because that’s what I know.

For your Mom, Grandma and Mother-in-Law

Sometimes we get caught up in the lovely gift ideas we see on Pinterest, on blogs, etc. I think it’s important to keep focused on what would really mean the most to our moms and what would best fit with our abilities and bandwidth. Our moms love to be remembered and honored, but fairly simple, heartfelt things often mean the most.  Here are some ieas I’ve done and some I’ve gathered from others and hope to do one of these years.

MEMORIES: Write your mom an email or handwritten note including some favorite memories you have with her. Include photos if you can. If you live near your mom, you could treat her to lunch and/or a manicure or pedicure. While you’re together, tell her about some of your favorite memories with her or share specific things you appreciate about what she did for you growing up. Here’s one favorite memory of mine that I shared with my mom and emailed to her along with a photo (I did five memories and five photos. My mom likes emailed stuff that she can keep digitally, but some moms would rather have a hard copy):

When I was six, I remember shopping with you for a new coat and I found one that I absolutely fell in love with — gray/blue velvet with fake fur trim — the most beautiful coat I’d ever seen. But it was wasn’t exactly cheap and you were all about shopping on the sales racks and making do with whatever was a good price. So I was over the moon when you agreed to buy me that coat. It was my most cherished piece of clothing for years. And then one day it disappeared from the school cloakroom. That was a sad sad day for me. Here’s the coat (and my best friends, my sisters).

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT YOU: Create a simple list or a little book of specific things you and your kids love about your mom or mother-in-law (you could also include favorite things from your siblings and their children). For a gift that keeps giving all year long, you could include 52 things, one thing for each week of the year. Here’s a really easy idea for making a “jar of love”; your mom can pull out one thing a week for a full year (click on the image for instructions). Even my non-crafty self could totally handle this one:

52 jar

PHOTOS: Gather favorite photos of your mom with her children and grandchildren (you might have to secretly raid your mom’s photo albums and get friendly with your scanner). Create a collage if you like, put a favorite photo in a frame, make a little photo album, or simply email or create a blog post of some old photos that will bring a smile to her face.

Here’s a nice collage I found online (you could do photos of all your mom’s grandchildren around the edges or photos of yourself growing up). Click on the image below for an actual template for making a collage/book like this for your mom or grandm

mothers dayI recently did a special post on my personal blog as a tribute to my mom where I gathered tons of great photos of her into one place. (Click here or on the image below to see my whole blog post about my mom if you like.) She loved it so much! (And I’m glad to have so many favorite photos in one place now.)

blog post

** Don’t worry about whether you’ve got access to all the photos you’d like to include. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be meaningful!

NOTES: Have your children write down the top five things they love about their grandma. Their own handwriting and spelling is precious! Here’s my son Oliver’s letter to his Grammie (Gramy, as he spells it). I asked him about the artwork at the bottom, and he said it means that Grammie is colorful and fun and she loves art.

VIDEO: Make a video of your kids sharing their favorite memories and/or singing “Happy Mother’s Day” (to the tune of Happy Birthday). If you upload your video to YouTube, you can easily send the link to your mom and/or grandma.

POSTERITY: Gather photos of all your mom’s children and grandchildren and make a collage that shows individual shots of all your moms’ posterity. You could put them all into a huge photo collage frame (my sister did this for my mom one year). Another idea is to gather some favorite family photos over the years and create a simple collage with those (I made this one below for my mom).

Ashton's Photography

GIFT CERTIFICATES: Create a special personalized gift certificate for your mom from you. The certificate could be for an afternoon together doing something she loves, a favorite treat or dinner you’ll make for her, etc. You could also help your kids create gift certificates of their own for Grandma. The certificates could be for hugs, songs they’ll sing to her, doing a job for her at her house next time you’re there, etc. There are lots of nice templates online that you can use. The one below is from a group of nicely designed templates that you can personalize at “Certificate Street.”  But handmade works great too!

certificate

ART: Create some original art that captures how you feel about your mother or have your kids create art for their grandmother. I asked my 9-year-old daughter Eliza to make something — whatever she wanted — for her grandma. She came up with this beautiful piece. She said the “G” in the middle stands for grandma and that all the pink is for love and all the spikes are for excitement and the happy faces are for happiness and the purple is because purple is grandma’s  favorite color and the waves are for calmness.

RECORDED MEMORIES: Record yourself sharing your favorite memories with your mom (you could call it something like “The 5 Best Stories Featuring My Mom”). Put it on a cassette tape, a CD, or simply an audio file. You could even use freeconferencecall.com (we use it for ou rpodcasts) to discuss favorite memories with your siblings, record the call (it’s so easy) and send your mom the MP3 file (seriously not hard at all). Just set up a time and have everyone call the phone number provided.

MUSIC: Make a CD of favorite songs from growing up (What lullabies did your mom sing? What were her favorite songs to listen to in the car? What songs remind you of fun times together as a family?)

For Your Mom-Friends

Many of our good friends are moms, and while we’ll probably want to focus on our own moms, mothers-in-law and grandmas when it comes to Mother’s Day, it’s nice to do something simple for our friends as well. These ideas take just a few minutes at your computer and could mean a whole lot.

  • Send a quick email or hand-written note to a few moms you admire or who’ve impacted your life in meaningful ways. Is there someone whose example has really made a difference to you? Someone who’s helped you in a time of need? A simple note stating what you’ve seen in them that made a difference to you could mean so much! I received a note one Mother’s Day from a woman who usually sat a few rows behind me at church. It said, “I’ve noticed how you lovingly help your children behave so appropriately in church.” After years of working so hard (and often failing) to help my children sit reverently in church, it was such a treat to receive that note! I told her that I really appreciated her note, but she’ll never know what a sense of accomplishment that note gave me. It was like finally getting an “A” in a class that was a real challenge!
  • Start a Learning Circle for the moms you know (it’ll be a gift for them AND for you). Sign up to be a Learning Circle Leader and at the beginning of the invitation email template provided, say something like, “I really admire the way you mother your children and would love to learn more from you. In honor of Mother’s Day this year, I’m starting a Learning Circle and would love to have you participate” (then the text of the email template provided will explain the rest and you can personalize it).
  • Buy a book for the moms you know. Our latest book, “Deliberate Motherhood,” makes an excellent and relatively inexpensive gift. Or check out all the great books our community has recommended in our Amazon Store.

Mothers Day ideas you could suggest to your husband and children

Husbands and kids often appreciate a few pointers to help them make Mother’s Day wonderful. Feel free to share ideas with them. I used to think they would surely know what I’d like for Mother’s Day. And then I was sorely disappointed when they didn’t read my mind. I’ve found it works much better to hint very heavily or go right ahead and give them a list of things you’d love as far as activities and/or gifts and encourage them to “surprise you” by choosing from that list.

Here are some things that could go on your list:

  • A new bike, hiking shoes, an ice cream maker, a board game (you could specify one you think would be fun – great ideas in our Amazon Store) or something else that is connected to fun family activities you’ll be able to do together throughout the year. Encourage something connected to family activities you really love.
  • A picnic at a favorite place (you could offer some menu ideas and some ideas of favorite pretty locations if you think they might need them)
  • Notes from your children sharing favorite memories they have with you or a list of what they like about you. (One year I asked for this and my good husband helped the kids all write me a list of what they like about me — favorite gift ever! I’ll have those cute handwritten notes in my special things folder forever.)
  • An hour or two by yourself to think, plan, read, go for a walk, work on a project, whatever — with NO interruptions. My dear husband has made sure I’ve had a couple hours each Mother’s Day to myself, and I’ve loved using this time to write about what I love about motherhood that year. I come away feeling so very happy about being a mom and more in love with my family than ever!
  • A photo shoot of you with your children. As moms, we’re usually behind the camera. So on Mothers’ Day every year, I ask my husband to take photos of me with the kids. I’ve got photos from every year (a couple of my favorites are below).

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  • Coupons for hugs or jobs that your husband or kids will do for you (or you could make a list of jobs you’d dearly love to see completed around the house, and your family could “surprise” you by doing a thing or two on the list while you take off to enjoy a couple hours on your own doing something you enjoy).
  • Some little luxuries for you. Give your husband and kids a list of things you’d love to receive, and let them “surprise” you with something from the list. Your list could include some new makeup, a favorite treat, an article of clothing you’ve had your eye on, etc. (If you want something specific, be specific about brand, size, type, etc.)

Every mom likes different things — some of us love notes, some love store-bought gifts or cards or flowers, some love acts of service, some love the opportunity to spend quality time with those they love (you can usually tell what they’d love by what they tend to give). If you take a little time thinking about what might mean the most to the mothers in your life (including yourself), you’ll come up with your own unique ideas that can make this Mother’s Day the best yet!

QUESTION: What ideas would you add to the lists above? What have been your favorite gifts you’ve given and received?

CHALLENGE: Do something new, simple and meaningful for the mothers in your life this Mothers Day. Plus make Mothers Day great for YOU by giving your family some helpful hints and keeping your expectations in check.

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

One comment

  1. Jeanie

    I decided long ago that Mother’s Day at our home would not be full of guilt and expectations.

    Whatever my family chose to do to celebrate I would enjoy and appreciate. I would not hang any expectations over their heads that would make or break my day.

    As far as keeping it guilt free, I remind myself that while there are always things I could have done better as a mother I know I have done my level best, and that God does not expect perfect moms as evidenced by him allowing me to be one – 5 times over!

    At dinner one Mother’s Day, after receiving appreciative words and kind thoughts, I thanked each one of my children specifically for making me a mother and making my job over-all a happy one. I thanked my husband for the respect he showed me as the mother of our family. This brought great meaning to our whole family on this day of celebration.

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