Moms, these past few weeks have been hard on all of us. Harder than normal. Putting ourselves last is nothing new to us, but doing it repeatedly and consistently for an extended and unknown length of time is not our norm. And it’s definitely not sustainable.
With Mother’s Day coming up, I’ve been thinking about how it’s going to look different this year. We won’t be going out for brunch; we won’t be celebrating with extended family. In some ways, I’m looking forward to a more mellow day–one that doesn’t involve forcing a crying toddler into a car seat and attempting to keep a newly mobile baby contained and happy at a crowded restaurant.
In many ways, I’m disappointed by the change. Will this be the last Mother’s Day my 93-year-old grandma is with us? Will she spend it saying hello to her great-grandchildren through a glass door? What are we going to do this year to make the day a bright spot against an otherwise bleak global backdrop?
Mother’s Day is always about moms, that’s a given. But if the mom group-text I’m on tells me anything, it’s that every year, we’re all still making sacrifices on “our day.” After all, we’re moms; it’s in our blood. But if there was ever a time we deserved an extra special Mother’s Day, this is it.
Read on for five suggestions to get what you want out of your Mother’s Day.
1. Treat Yourself
I stand by this advice every year, for every holiday, every special occasion, and also random Wednesday nights, but especially this year. I wholeheartedly believe that as moms, doing something for ourselves is mandatory for our own mental health and sanity, as well as for the health and well-being of our entire family. We cannot be the moms we want to be if we are not caring for ourselves. We cannot be the partners we want to be if we are not caring for ourselves. Put simply, we cannot be the people we want to be if we are not caring for ourselves.
Here’s the thing about treating yourself: this means whatever you want it to mean. Caring for yourself should not be another to-do on your list that you’re are inevitably going to feel guilty about not having the time to do.
Oh, now I’m supposed to be meditating for 15 minutes a day? Cool, another thing I’m failing at, add it to the list. I had that thought this week. You can guess what I’m not going to be doing on my extra special Mother’s Day. But if meditating is your thing, then that’s what you should do.
If treating yourself means buying an overpriced bath bomb and soaking in the tub for a few uninterrupted minutes (hours?) with a glass of wine is your thing, go for it. If buying yourself those cozy PJs you’ve been eyeing is your jam, then rock on.
You do you.
2. Ask for What You Want—Early
Humans are not complicated creatures. OK, well actually we are, but most of us can follow simple directions. Whoever you’re celebrating with this year, let them know now what you’re hoping for Mother’s Day to look like.
If you’re expecting a gift, tell them. If you’re expecting a specific gift, tell them what it is. If you want a surprise, tell them that. If you want a card, let them know now. If you want artwork from your kids, get them thinking about it. If you want breakfast in bed or a romantic dinner, your partner may need to schedule a grocery delivery, which we all know is almost impossible right now, so get ahead of the game. If you want to nap for an entire afternoon without screaming children (like I do), put that out there now. The sooner the people in your life can plan, the better for everyone.
3. Dress Up–or Don’t
I saw a lot of well-dressed families in my social media feed on Easter. While I personally kept to my leggings and loungewear (I was going to get dressed and then suddenly it was 3pm), I did put my kids in their special occasion outfits instead of the pajamas they’ve been living in. My husband even threw on a collared shirt.
I have to admit, I love some good athleisure gear as much as the next mom, but getting (most of) the family into “real” clothes broke the cycle of monotony our days at home have become. So if you’re up for it, put on that brunch dress and maybe some self-tanner too (am I the only one who is as pale as a ghost?), and celebrate you. Or be like me and make the rest of your family dress up while you remain in leisurewear. Whatever works.
If the KonMari trend has taught us anything, it’s that things don’t necessarily bring us joy. That’s why I’m planning to spend my Mother’s Day reminiscing with my husband and kids about our favorite times together and reliving and remembering my favorite experiences as a mom–the days my children were born, the funniest things my toddler has said, our first family vacation to the beach.
And you better believe I’m digging into the stash of cards I’ve saved over the years and getting all sappy over the sweet messages my husband wrote to me, while I pat myself on the back about what a great mom I am. But seriously, let’s all take a moment this Mother’s Day to recognize and appreciate ourselves for holding it together right now, even if we’re barely hanging on by a thread.
5. Do Something for Someone Else
Yes, it’s your day, but bringing joy to someone else will ultimately bring you more joy. It’s a win-win. This is not just my opinion either—studies show that people who volunteer or help others report being happier themselves.
Whether it’s donating to a local diaper bank or food bank in your area or dropping a little something by for someone in your mom squad, pay it forward this Mother’s Day. You won’t regret it. And if we all pay it forward to someone else, maybe that bleak global backdrop will look just a little bit sunnier, at least for the day.