What does mom really want for Mother’s Day? That should be a one-word story: sleep.
But that’s the most boring and shortest article ever, so we rounded up some more ideas for how to spoil all the mothers and mother figures in your life. (Remember all the single mamas, who carry that load by themselves every day!) And while you can’t put a price on love, money is a bummer, so we’re keeping it real with three different price ranges.
Feel free to read this list and drool, then forward it to your partner, whose idea of a happy first Mother’s Day is you hosting your in-laws. (Ahem … partners, if you don’t get through this entire story, remember this basic takeaway: A handmade card from the kids is nice, but all she really wants is to sleep in.)
Moms spend all of their time taking care of other people — how about something to take care of her? It costs nothing to lighten some of her mental load, and that’s something she will totally appreciate.
Little things: Do a Starbucks run before she’s even gotten out of bed. Let her have a long soak in the tub without anyone pounding on the bathroom door.
If you want to get really crazy, march the kids straight out the door and give her an entire day off, to go shopping, catch up with friends, take a hike, tackle some household chores or — a personal favorite here — sleep.
Ironically, what mom wants most is a brief taste of her life before kids: a clean house, a nap and a good book — stuff we used to take for granted.
No kid-made art, please, because she has enough macaroni necklaces already. What she could really use more of? Time alone. Not that she doesn’t love the kids, but she sees plenty of them every day, and they suck up all of her brain space. I promise you, in the back of her mind she’s always thinking about what needs to be restocked in the fridge and who’s outgrown what already.
Maybe mom doesn’t want a day off from being mom, just a day off from her mom responsibilities. Give her a day with the family when she doesn’t change any diapers or wipe up any little-boy pee. Let mom be the fun one for a change, not the one nagging the kids about homework. Meals and cleanup are basically 99 percent of her day — you take over the dishes and laundry and send her to the playground with the kids.
Mom loves family outings, but the key here is making it one for which she doesn’t have to organize, pack and clean up afterward. Go for a ferry ride and a picnic, but pick up all the food from the deli section and bribe the kids into putting on their very best behavior.
Skip the jewelry (you’ve never nailed her taste, anyway). The real key to her heart is hiring a housecleaner and meal delivery, so she comes home to a clean house and dinner on the table.
Can’t-fail gift: spa day with the girls! Send her out the door with a gift certificate for a massage and a mani-pedi.
Want to give her something tangible? Nothing says I love you (and I can’t hear you) quite like a pair of noise-canceling headphones. Or the guilt-free human equivalent, which is hiring a babysitter for the day.
Moms are always the ones taking pictures, never the ones in them. Book a professional photo shoot. You can purchase a “Mommy and Me” session, or sign mom up for a glamour shoot with professional hair and makeup so she can remember what it was like getting all dolled up.
Hire a repair person to take care of all those things that have been bugging her around the house, because you’ll never get to it and you’ll bungle it up if you try.
A new refrigerator ... yeah, now that’s the ticket. The one in the kitchen has paneling on the front to match the cabinets — which was cool in 1999, but not so much now. Jewelry? Bleh. A new stainless-steel refrigerator with French doors and an ice maker? Cool. In your house, this metaphorical refrigerator might look like a washing machine, a dishwasher or some other major appliance she uses every day that is on its last legs.
We save the best for last: a “mom-cation” at a nice hotel with room service. The place has to be close enough so it’s an easy drive, but far enough so she can really disconnect. Our recommendations: Salish Lodge & Spa at Snoqualmie Falls, The Inn at Langley on Whidbey Island, Suncadia in Cle Elum, Alderbrook Resort & Spa in Union or Willows Lodge in Woodinville. Let her enjoy some relaxing solitude, recharge and then come home happy to be mom again.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in April 2019, and updated in April 2022.