Right, Mother’s Day is fast approaching and, whether you’re the sort to tut at ‘all that commercial nonsense’ or the sort to embrace it as your ‘special day’, you know your heart’s going to melt on Sunday 26 March if your children totter your way with a lovingly personalised token of Mum Appreciation.
But they’re going to need a bit of help – and a bit of a nudge in the direction of Stuff Mum Will Actually Like.
So, we’ve put together this little guide to getting children to give those Mother’s Day gift staples that extra heart-melty touch – so you can ‘accidentally’ share it with your other half, or print it out and leave it somewhere strategic.
Oh, and if you’ve only had a baby recently, it’s really is worth saying loudly (and possibly repeatedly), “Ooh, it’s my first Mother’s Day this year!” After years of thinking that Mother’s Day is only for his mother, your new-dad other half may well need a gentle reminder that there’s another mother in his life now…
Ahead-of-the-game option: Gather your child and assorted craft materials in one room. Cut out a big card rectangle to be the special tag for the flowers. ‘Help’ your child paint/crayon/stamp/collage a special picture/message for Mum on the card. (Note that glitter is a double-edged sword here: undoubted extra points for effort and creativity but inevitable bad marks for ensuing sparkly bits in carpet.) Punch a hole in the top of the card and thread a pretty ribbon through the hole.
Nearer the big day, take your child to a flower shop and choose a bunch of beautiful blooms. Ask the florist just to tie them with string. Keep, in water, somewhere cool and secret. On the day itself, tie the ribbon in a bow over the string and position the tag at the front. Load child with bouquet and steer Mum-wards.
Run-out-of-time option: A corner-shop bunch of daffs will pass muster as long as you still add the child-crafted tag. If you don’t have time to let your child create a bespoke masterpiece, outline the word Mum or Mummy (as appropriate) on the card rectangle and get/help your child to colour the letters in and/or plonk sticker stars around the letter outlines. If you don’t have ribbon, just tuck the card into the flower bunch.
Top tip: Tulips are nice; carnations are a bit dodgy; lilies are often for funerals. Daffs and narcissi are a great choice but don’t mix them with other blooms – their cut stems emit a ‘daffodil slime’ that’s toxic to other flowers.
Ahead-of-the-game option: You and your child have to go ‘handmade’ – as scribbley and splodgily and stickily as possible. If you’re all out of arty ideas, try our crafty flower card guide. Once the outside of the card is made (and dry), your child will need to ‘write’ a heartwarming message inside. Get your child to think of something they are thankful to their mum for. It can be something as simple as reading stories or being cuddly (but veto clearly self-serving ideas, like “because you buy me lots of presents”).
It’s the time spent decorating and the sweet, personal detail that makes the card so special. As one MFMer on Facebook says of the handmade card she received from her kids: “They spent hours on it and I know it was just because they loved me.”
Run-out-of-time option: OK, so you’ve no time for the artily handmade and you have to make a run to the shops. Do take your child with you (they can tell Mum they chose the card specially) and do think about what the card calls your partner. If she’s used to being called ‘Mum’, then don’t choose one with ‘Mummy’ on it or, worse, age her 40 years with a card with curly script that says ‘To my Dearest Mother’. And, most crucially of all, make sure your child ‘writes’ that personal message (see above) inside.
Top tip: Do not buy the same card for your mum. Ever.
The breakfast in bed
Ahead-of-the-game option: Repeat after us: breakfast in bed is not a treat at 6am. Proper breakfast in bed has an vitally important prelude: a lie-in. To quote an MFMer: “Best-ever Mother’s Day gift? A lie-in followed by breakfast in bed. The gift of time and peace and quiet.”
Now we’ve got that straight, you need to prepare. If your child’s old enough to be your sous chef (or at least get a kick out of putting a chef’s hat on), involve them in the (super-secret, natch) menu planning a few days before. Think simple (croissants and coffee, yes; full English with fried bread, braised mushrooms and black sausage, probably no), think bed-friendly (toast crumbs and granola bits are dead itchy between the sheets) and possibly think slightly alcoholic (Bucks Fizz? Prosecco?). Get all your ingredients stowed in the house in the day before M-Day, make sure you’ve got a tray to put everything on when it’s ready, and think what hazard-free tasks your child can help with while you boil, grill and toast.
Be ready for the uncheffy reality that more of your time on Mother’s Day morning will be spent stopping your super-excited child from bursting into the bedroom and waking Mummy up to tell her about her surprise breakfast than actually spent cooking the darn meal.
Run-out-of-time option: If you’ve left things a little late to menu-plan and shop, then you can still do the vitally important lie-in thing (see above). And breakfast in bed is still passably breakfast in bed if it’s a bowlful of Cheerios and a bashful look. Especially if accompanied by children (and partner) promising super-helpfulness later on. Try a strategic bundle of our printable tokens that she can cash in for ‘best behaviour’ or a ‘washing-up free day’.
Top tip: Tidy the kitchen afterwards. The bliss of a brilliant breakfast in bed evaporates in roughly one-tenth of a nanosecond when confronted with a sink full of washing up and a scrambled-egg-speckled kitchen floor.
Ahead-of-the-game option: Fill a hamper/box/basket with some of your partner’s favourite things. They don’t have to be fancy/pricey but it should be obvious they’ve been picked with her in mind. We’re talking her favourite biscuits, a book by her favourite author, a packet of seeds of her favourite flower, the DVD of that film she never got to see. Involve your child in the selection process – you’ll be amazed what funny and touching ideas they’ll come up with – and add little handwritten labels to the gifts explaining why your child chose them (“Here’s some green beans, Mum, because you always say they’re really yummy when I won’t eat them”).
Run-out-of-time option: Chocolate is always a welcome treat. Get your child to write/trace a little note to attach to the box, saying: “Hands off Mummy’s chocolate!”
Top tip: Clothes, underwear, self-help manuals and ‘handy, time-saving’ household gadgets are not suitable Mother’s Day gifts. Trust us on that.
And another thing…
If you ask your partner what she wants for Mother’s Day, and she says, “Oh don’t worry, I don’t want anything”, you need to understand that this translates as, “Well, actually, it would be nice to have something but it’d lovely if you and the kids could think of something yourselves.”
Not convinced? Well, let’s think worst-case scenarios. Which would be preferable: a woman who would secretly like something heart-melty getting nothing at all or a woman who doesn’t want anything getting something unexpectedly heart-melty?
And, of course, it is Father’s Day in a few short weeks. What goes around comes around, folks…
Happy Mother’s Day, everyone!