What Your Mother Actually Wants for Mother’s Day


It’s time to start thinking about what Mom wants for Mother’s day.

But what does she really want. Your mom will say she loves whatever you get for her, but I talked with thirteen Mormon moms to get the real scoop.

I talked to new moms, empty-nester moms, exhausted moms, and grandmoms. And here’s the connective link: Your mom wants something thoughtful.

Don’t get me wrong, your mother will definitely enjoy that Whitman Sampler you buy from Walgreens Saturday night. But if you spend the time to actually think about where she is in life right now and what could actually give her a great day, she’ll be much more grateful.

A Break

mother takes a break to watch tv
For busy moms of little ones, a break can be the best gift for mother’s day.

Many of the mothers with young kids I spoke to said what they wanted more than anything was to have some time away from doing all the everyday “mom stuff.” Moms love their families, but they can be exhausting, especially if she spends most of her time with multiple small children.

One young mother told me about a time a few years ago when she had a two-year-old and a five-month-old:

For Mother’s Day all I wanted was to not have to change any diapers or do any dishes. My husband did that all weekend, plus he cleaned, vacuumed, and made every meal. Getting a break from everyday tasks even for one day is extremely wonderful.

Here are a few ways you can give Mom a break:

  • Change up the chore chart. Do you have chores that Mom usually does in your house? Take on one of those chores for a week before and/or after Mother’s day.
  • Go the other way, and do all the chores for an entire day or two around Mother’s day.
  • Make a sibling pact to not bicker on Mother’s day and do your best to solve your own problems.
  • What does Mom enjoy doing at home? Whether she enjoys gardening, board games, cooking, or watching TV, clear out of the way or participate if she’d like.

Time Alone

Mother's Day Spa Trip as one of the best gifts for Mother's Day
Your mom loves you, but she might not want to see you for a bit.

Other moms suggested going a step further, and sending Mom out of the house.

One young mother of five told me she’d love, “A day of pampering, mani-pedi, facial, no cooking. A date with the hubby.” It felt like she could keep going forever.

One mother of teens explained:

Mothers need time for themselves, to go hang out with friends and/or do a hobby. This will recharge their batteries, so to speak, so they can be a better mother and wife.

If you think your Mom could use some away time, here are some ideas:

  • Buy an experience. Many of the moms I spoke to mentioned spa days. But if that’s not for your mom, consider sending her to a lecture, behind the scenes zoo tour, or skydiving. You know your mom best.
  • Connect her with others. While a few of the moms I spoke to wanted to be alone, most wanted to connect with friends or a spouse, so call them ahead and make the arrangements.
  • Think outside of Sunday. With Mother’s Day on the Sabbath, some may feel like their activity options are limited. So give Mom a day away during the week instead.

Time with Family

Mothers Day with Adult Children
Moms who don’t see their kids everyday may just want time with them

Empty nester moms had a very different story though. When I asked one she immediately responded, “Time with adult children.”

The difference really highlights how much our moms experiences are different, and what they really want is for us to be paying attention and act accordingly.

Another mom with adult children told me about her tradition:

Now that my kids are grown and out of the house with families of their own I tell them the most special gifts they can give me are the gifts of time being with them and doing things with them! Since then my kids have planned events like musicals at the Hollywood bowl or a day at Glen Ivy (a local hot springs) for us all! Going to the LA museums, hiking, golfing. The memories these day trips have created mean so much more than any present that would sit on the shelf!

Of course, not all adult children live close enough to their mom to visit. So here are some ideas for out of town kids.

  • Create a Connection. One mom I spoke to has been having a floral shop deliver her mom the same gift every year along with a personalized letter. The tradition creates something meaningful while the letter personalizes it. And her presence is felt even if she can’t be.
  • Skype. If you don’t video chat with your mom, make a special effort to make sure you can this Mother’s day. And a web cam can make a nice gift.

For adult children who do live nearby, here are some ideas:

  • Two moms, one trip. For adult sons with children of their own, take the kids to grandmas. She’ll love to see you, while your kids’ mom will get some alone time.
  • Plan ahead. This isn’t just any trip to see your mom. Think about what your mom may want to do, and bring with you her favorite meal or movie.


Daughter hugs mom for mothers day
No matter what you get Mom, make sure you deliver it with a “Thank You.”

My first response to those who answered ‘gratitude’ was that their answer was trying too hard to be nice. That what moms really wanted wasn’t simply a thank you.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized these moms weren’t asking for facile shows of gratitude, but honest gratitude.

After talking about some other types of gifts one mom said:

As a mother all I really want is to feel like they are grateful for what I do for them. A thank you for sacrificing everything I am for them. A thank you for feeding them and doing things for them everyday. I want an “I love you mom, I am grateful for all you do for me.”

If you start your Mother’s day preparations with that attitude, then you will honestly choose the best and meaningful gift.

Moms also want to hear the words. Here’s a few ideas to make sure your mom knows you’re grateful:

  • No matter what you give Mom, add a hug. A long lingering hug while sharing some kind thoughts will create a meaningful, lasting memory
  • With whatever talent you have, write down your gratitude. If that’s a beautiful letter, painting, song, or video montage, put your gratitude into something concrete.

How do you celebrate Mother’s day? What do you do to show your gratitude for Mom?

Christopher D. Cunningham is the managing editor for Public Square Magazine and contributor to Third Hour. He loves emphatically celebrating the normal healthy development of his sons Albus and Whitman, writing about the Church of Jesus Christ, finding the middle ground on most controversies, and using Western Family generic brand lip balm. Christopher is a proud graduate of Brigham Young University-Idaho, and a resident of San Antonio, Texas.