Instead of thinking about what to give a mom in your life, think about what you could take away.
Pssst. I’ve got a Mother’s Day secret. Moms don’t really need a brunch or flowers, as lovely as those things are. What most moms I know really want are the things she rarely gets—a clean house, and time that belongs to her and her alone.
Don’t get me wrong. Moms enjoy spending quality time with their kids. But I know few moms who would say they don’t get enough time with their children. Our kid cups are full to overflowing most days. It’s quality time with ourselvesthat we crave, but rarely get.
This is why we lock ourselves in the bathroom on occasion. This is why we sit for a few extra minutes in the car after we park in the driveway. This is why we slowly walk every aisle of Target when we’re out for a “quick errand.”
We want time to read a book uninterrupted. We want time to slowly drink a cup of coffee and stare out the window. We want time to sit in silence of an empty house and just be without having to think about someone else’s needs for a while.
We love our families, but the constant flow of our energy to our loved ones takes its toll.
Moms nurture. We teach. We comfort. We worry. We give ourselves to our children and partners, and most of the time we are happy to do so. It’s a role we chose to take on (most of us, anyway) and we wouldn’t trade being a mom for anything in the world.
But that doesn’t mean we don’t need breaks sometimes.
A poll conducted by TVBed.com and reported by the Daily Mail found that out of 2000 moms surveyed, three quarters felt like they live their lives entirely for other people. Many moms reported that they go weeks at a time without any “me time,” and on average, mothers get a mere 17 minutes a day to themselves. That’s not healthy for anyone.
One of the best things someone can do for a mom who’s in the thick of motherhood is take her kids for a while. Make sure she knows they are safe and cared for and having a good time, and tell her to go take a few hours for herself. It doesn’t matter what she chooses to do with that time—it’s hers.
I guarantee she’ll think it’s one of the best gifts she’s ever gotten.
Studies show that women still take on the lion’s share of housework. That takes its toll too.
While gender roles aren’t nearly as defined as they used to be, much of the work of childrearing and housekeeping still falls on women. Some of that is natural—babies and toddlers in particular tend to gravitate towards their first source of nourishment and nurturing—but some is leftover from days past when a woman’s place was in the home.
And the housework bit gets really old after a few years. When you live with children, there is constant picking up, constant wiping up, constant sweeping up. It never ends. Just to have a decently tidy house requires a consistent, diligent effort to stay on top of the perpetual messiness of it all.
And that’s just living with children. One might assume that living with a partner would make housework easier, as you can split the duties. But research shows that women with husbands actually do more housework than single moms do. Unless you live with a man who truly pulls his weight, having a partner actually makes housework worse.
I fortunately married a man who is awesome about splitting household duties, but even at that, our house is rarely clean for longer than a few hours. If someone gifted me few hours of professional house cleaning, I’d be thrilled. Heck, if someone just offered to fold my laundry for a few days, I’d be eternally grateful. Taking away the burden of constant housework, even just for a little while, is a wonderful gift.
I’m telling you, a clean house and time alone. That’s what most moms really want anyway.