It’s no secret that on Mother’s Day, husbands and kids of all ages want to celebrate the outstanding moms in their lives. If you’re skeptical, consider the fact that more flower bouquets are sold on Mother’s Day than on any other holiday, including Valentine’s Day—score a big one for moms! But it’s also true that there are as many ways to celebrate this holiday as there are mothers. And sometimes (as you may know from experience), your family’s well-meaning efforts might not fit exactly with what you had in mind.
Fortunately, says Princess Ivana Pignatelli Aragona Cortes, there’s a simple way to make sure that Mother’s Day is great for everyone: Tell your family what you want!
“As mothers, we can get so focused on taking care of everyone else in our families that we forget to let them know how to take care of us,” says Ivana, who is a featured blogger at Modern Mom, founder of Princess Ivana—The Modern Princess, and coauthor of A Simple Guide to Pregnancy & Baby’s First Year (Don’t Sweat It Media, Inc., April 2013, ISBN: 978-0-9888712-0-5, $15.95, www.princessivana.com). “But the truth is, your spouse and kids aren’t mind readers. And because they love you and want you to feel as special as possible on ‘your’ day, they’ll really appreciate any hints and direction you can give them!”
First, Ivana suggests, spend a little time thinking about what the perfect Mother’s Day might look and feel like for you. Of course you should include any beloved traditions your family might have, but also realize that it’s fine (and even encouraged!) to spend time doing something just for you. To view Ivana’s latest vlog on having the perfect Mother’s Day, click here.
“My perfect Mother’s Day strikes a balance between spending time with my wonderful kids while they do something special for me, like making me breakfast in bed or drawing me a picture, and allowing myself to do exactly what I want to do without feeling guilty about it,” Ivana shares. “On Mother’s Day, all mothers should put themselves first. Letting your family know how they can help you to do that is a win-win: You enjoy your day, and your spouse and kids know without a doubt that they did a great job.”
As you plan out your ideal Mother’s Day, here are some things to consider:
What kind of celebration do you want? Some women might enjoy a loud, boisterous, all-out party atmosphere complete with cake, games, and “Happy Mother’s Day” balloons. Others might prefer a low-key, quiet, and (relatively) stress-free day. And, of course, there are infinite possibilities in between.
“I think families sometimes tend to gravitate toward making a big deal out of Mother’s Day celebrations because they want to make sure you feel special,” Ivana comments. “So especially if that’s not what you have envisioned, say so now! Your family won’t begrudge you a peaceful afternoon spent reading a book or planting colorful spring flowers if that’s what you prefer to do.”
What activities would you enjoy? If you’re like many families, there might be some Mother’s Day activities that no one would even contemplate skipping because “it’s tradition!” But since, for example, gift opening and going to a special religious service won’t take up the whole day, you need to be proactive about planning how to spend the remaining hours.
“Again, let your family members know what you would enjoy most,” Ivana recommends. “Would you like to cook a meal together, or would going out to eat be a big treat? Does going for a hike together sound amazing, or would you rather make popcorn and watch a movie? This is your chance to call the shots without having to mediate between a chorus of conflicting desires and opinions!”
Do you want to spend the whole day with your family? If the answer is “of course,” then tell your kids to clear their schedules now, and to leave their laptops and phones in their rooms. (Texting a friend while sitting in the same room as Mom doesn’t count as quality time.) But if, on the other hand, you’ve been waiting for permission to get away from the everyday chaos of raising a family, this is it!
“Certainly you’ll want to spend some time with your kids and spouse, but you don’t have to be with them every second of Mother’s Day,” Ivana points out. “Maybe you’d like to lock the bedroom door and take a nap, book a massage, get your nails done, or shop with your girlfriends, for instance. Do it—and don’t feel guilty!”
Are there any gifts you would like? But this isn’t my birthday, you might think. Do I get to make requests? Shouldn’t I just accept what my family gets me, knowing it was given with love? Well, maybe. But think about it this way: If your spouse and kids are going to spend time and money on a Mother’s Day gift, won’t they feel proudest knowing it’s something you’ll absolutely love?
“Let’s face it: If your husband is like mine, he simply might not think to have the kids draw you the homemade card you’ll cherish for the rest of your life,” Ivana says. “So give him a nudge! Maybe you’d really like a specific piece of jewelry, a cool framed picture of the kids, or to have your car washed and vacuumed. Think about what makes you feel loved and what puts a smile on your face. Everyone is different, so there are no right answers. You decide!”
Will you spend the day with extended family? For many families, this decision will be made by the realities of geography. But if you live near your own mother and/or your mother-in-law, spend some time thinking about how, or if, you’d like to include them in your day. After all, the last thing you want to do is spend the day engaged in polite conversation with extended family while you daydream about the bubble bath you wish you were taking!
“If you’d like to include other mothers in your life but don’t want the occasion to turn into an all-day affair, having a meal together at a restaurant might work,” Ivana suggests. “And if you’d rather keep your day immediate-family-only, that’s fine. I have a friend who politely tells her mother and mother-in-law that she would like to celebrate with them on a different day and just be with her husband and kids on Mother’s Day.”
“When you take some time to think about the kind of Mother’s Day you’d like most and communicate that vision to your family, you’ll all go to bed on May 12th feeling wonderful and satisfied,” Ivana concludes. “That said, don’t expect perfection. Revel in the little mistakes and hiccups that make being a mother such an awesome experience.”
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About Princess Ivana:
Ivana is the author of the upcoming book A Simple Guide to Pregnancy & Baby’s First Year, which was cowritten with her mother, Magdalene Smith, and her sister, Marisa Smith. Their blog, Princess Ivana—The Modern Princess, is a blend of humor, practical advice, and lifestyle tips on the essentials. Ivana is also a featured blogger on Modern Mom.