Most moms set the bar low for Mother's Day. A card, something made by their kids, even if it's just cut-out hearts glued to a piece of paper, perhaps some flowers. Dads, meanwhile, will be deluged with lists of the best and worst gifts to buy.
This is the day that sees a million spa visits purchased and an ocean of perfume that will never be worn. But the best gift can't be bought at a store or secured with a credit card. It doesn't cost a nickel but for busy moms (read: every mom) it's a priceless commodity. What is this miracle gift? It's dad taking the kids somewhere for the afternoon. And leaving her alone. It's peace and quiet.
"That's what every mom wants," says Amy Corkett, a Calgary-based mother of two kids, ages two and four. "Just to have a break and to be yourself again without having to be mom."
Her ideal mother's day gift?
"The weekend after Mother's Day I would get to go to a local hotel, check in for the day, and just read and drink coffee. And have a full night's sleep," she says.
Most mothers probably won't ask for quiet time this weekend, for one simple reason.
"It comes down to mom guilt," says Renee Kaiman, a Toronto-based mother of two who blogs at My So-Called Mommy Life. "And because Mother's Day is such a Hallmark holiday, society makes you feel like you need to be in the middle and doing things [with your family]."
What is her ideal Mother's Day?
"If I could be very selfish, it would be spending time just with my kids and my family and then doing something for me alone," she says.
But giving your partner the best Mother's Day doesn't have to be a choice between showing her heartfelt appreciation for being such a great mom or letting her not be a mom for the day. The secret is to do both. This is how.
You have to buy flowers for your mother and the mother of your children. Don't buy the crappy ones. Don't buy the big shiny bouquet parked in the store window to sucker men. Go to a florist. Ask questions. Put some thought into it.
Not just a card
A card is the bare minimum – homemade is better than Hallmark, always. Go the extra mile and make a Mother's Day journal. Have each of your kids write a short note inside and trace their hands, among other things you might include in this book that you can add to every year. "I call it the best, simplest, cheapest most awesome Mother's Day gift ever," Buzz Bishop, a Calgary-based radio host, blogger and father of two, says.
Clean the house
Do it on Saturday. Get the place gleaming. Hire a cleaning service if you must. Because there's no point in giving your partner free time if she's sitting in a messy house.
Breakfast in bed
Make it with the kids. But let mom sleep in. Don't go crashing in with burnt toast and a giant bowl of Froot Loops at 7 a.m. Mom deserves all the rest she wants.
Time to hit the road
Pack up the kids and leave. To where? It doesn't matter. Try your mom's house; she probably wants to see the grandkids anyway. You have to stay gone for at least three hours. Four is better.
A nice one. One that shows that you know how lucky you are and that you are trying your best.