As Mother’s Day approaches, kids, partners and mom appreciators everywhere will be scrambling for a gift. It’s often a trinket, a scarf, perfume. However, if you really want to make mom happy, give her an experience that gets her out of the house and her routine, and the freedom to enjoy it. This Mother’s Day, give mom help and get her out of the house.

Scientific research indicates the happiness created by experiences continues to rise over time. Meanwhile, the excitement generated by material objects fades. Plus, material gifts often contribute to clutter in the home, which can be very stressful. It’s time to rethink the gift. Clutter may already be high simply from having children.

Giving mom an experience this year is a great idea, but there’s a twist. She also needs the gift of time to enjoy it. Otherwise, the warm fuzzy feeling she gets receiving a half day spa package can be quickly replaced by anxiety, thinking about making the time to enjoy this gift. It’s not just about creating a kid-free and work-free window, but also covering off everything she would have done during that time. The accumulation of undone tasks can be stressful and ruin your lovely treat. So find a way to boost this gift with: (a) the time for her to use it, and (b) covering off the tasks she would otherwise get done during this window.

Here are five great get-her-out gift ideas

  1. Tickets for movies, a special exhibit, live theatre or concert. If there is something going on you know she’d enjoy, buy two tickets and arrange for yourself or a friend to go. When I say arrange, I mean engage the friend, plan childcare, take on chores, etc.
  2. Classes, workshops, memberships. If you think she’d like the opportunity to expand an interest or hobby, help her do it. Find out what she is currently interested in. Taking care of the cost is only the first step – what else does she need to make use of it? Make and share plans for covering what she would normally do during that time, or ask what she needs you to do.This Mother's Day, Give Mom Help and Self-care
  3. Local Adventures. Most of us don’t spend time as a tourist in our own city. If you have young kids I guarantee there are new places and things for her to explore since she was last free to galavant around town. A simple walking tour with picnic, or extravagant night out with a harbour cruise can be a different and fun time, without having to do any of the research and planning. If you are going too, book the babysitter!
  4. Getaways. A bit more ambitious. There are many fun ideas: a weekend at a country bed and breakfast, a night at a luxury hotel in another city. It takes thought and planning— not just what and where, but babysitters, pet care, what would not be getting done that weekend, but totally worth it. Just think it through and cover all the bases.
  5. Self-care. Many moms put the care of family before their own needs— whether it’s related to time or money. This could be anything from a good haircut to shopping for new clothes or seeing someone about her sore foot. Think about what she used to do to feel good or what she seems to need now. Give her a gift certificate and make sure she books it. Work with her to plan the time away, because you’ve got her back.

Taking a day to herself can seem like extra work

Mom’s do so much of the planning, management and execution of the day-to-day, it can seem difficult to work in time in for something special. Taking even a half day to herself might mean double the load the next day for her. A really great gift booster would be to figure out what help she needs to enjoy the experience gift, then do it or arrange it. If it’s happening on laundry day, do it for her. If there’s no obvious pattern, choose a couple time-consuming tasks she usually does and take them off her plate.

Have a plan

Don’t just say ‘the kids and I will be fine’, plan something to do with them in advance. Recruit the in-laws, organize a babysitter, whatever she needs to feel confident things will be taken care of so she’ll relax and enjoy. You could also ask her what you can do, since much of what mom does is mental management and planning that you may not be aware of. She will truly appreciate this effort and get some much needed time for herself.