Taking Back Mother’s Day: 5 Ways To (Gently) Coach Your Family Into Giving You The Day Of Your Dreams

taking back mother's day taking back mother's day

Do you ever feel like Mother’s Day has become less about how you feel and more about how everyone else feels? Not only are you making sure to wish the other mothers in your lives a happy day, but you’re also in charge of the plans with and gifts for the grandmothers. After all, it’s their day too. You’re also tending the feelings of the people closest to you, the ones who made you a mother in the first place: your kids and perhaps your partner, too. It’s very important for them to see that their efforts on this day made you happy. However,  they don’t necessarily know how to achieve that on their own.  I mean, they don’t even know where their shoes or keys or underwear are on any given day, so why do we expect them to suddenly become superhuman on this one day every year? Newsflash: whether or not mom is the “fun” parent, she is quite often the “fun maker.”

This is what often leads to feeling let down on Mother’s Day, and I for one won’t do it one more year. So here are five ways to take back Mother’s Day and have a day that actually fuels you.

1.) Set expectations and be explicit.

Much like broaching the idea of bedtime with a toddler, mother’s day expectations need to be mentioned early, and they need to be mentioned often. If you want to be showered in presents, let that be known in detail. Every year, I use Mother’s day as an excuse to purchase things I want – but that I don’t necessarily need – for our yard.  Some years it’s just lots of flowers/plants or maybe some landscaping, some years its new patio furniture, or cushions. I always know what I want, so when the time comes that someone asks what I’d like, I know exactly what to say.

Where am I going with this? If you want breakfast in bed, you need to make this known.  And I do not mean offhandedly mentioning that you “love eating breakfast in bed.” Make it easier for them by spelling it out. “I want breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day, and here are the foods I’d love!”

2.) Set your crew up for success.

Go ahead and buy the basic supplies that the day may require – for breakfast, for cards, etc. If you do not have the paper, crayons and whatever other “on trend” Pinterest-y supplies easily accessible, their crafty project for you will remain just a lofty idea that never amounts to anything. Help them help you.

3.) Plan the timing of events. 

Three years ago, at 11:07am on Mother’s day, my husband looked up from his phone and casually asked, “So what do you want to do today?” This is the moment I realized I need to be involved in the planning of said day. It’s not his fault. How can we expect someone to do what we want them to do if we never tell them what we want in the first place? As much as I wish it was the case, people are not mind readers. And that is why this step is key. Maybe you want a day of pampering alone, at a relaxing spa or hotel. That’s fabulous, book it. Or perhaps you’d rather spend the day with your family, feeling all of their love while enjoying a break from the mundane parts of motherhood, like cooking. Share this with your family, and be explicit about exactly who you want to spend your day with, and what you’d like the day to look like. And this will also allow you to be in charge of the guest list. Which brings me to my next point.

4.) Do not plan to celebrate anyone but yourself on this day.

OK, this is a controversial one, but hear me out. I love my mother, and I love my mother-in-law. And spending a day celebrating them is something I’m into. I happen to be one of the lucky ones who enjoys spending time with the grams. And, if your grams are as involved with your kids as mine are, they deserve a day of being celebrated. But that does not mean that you don’t also deserve a day that is just about YOU. You cannot have a day designated to you while also trying to designate a day to someone else. What’s the point of breakfast in bed if you are rushing around trying to make it to brunch with your mother in law? Let’s give her a day, because she deserves it. How about Saturday? Or a day in April? Plan a special day that doesn’t have any impact at all on your day. This will help to eliminate that resentment that can creep up on us moms who refuse to set boundaries for ourselves. It’s me, I am talking to me.

If you need to do mother’s day with someone else, that’s fine. Your day will be another day, then. Because you DESERVE a day.


Motherhood is full time and then some. While we love our children more than anything in the entire world, we wouldn’t hate a day off from it all. If that’s you, go ahead and make that known.  Avoid making a vague statement such as “mom is off the clock today, go ask your father!” No, no, no, make a list.  Give it to your partner, detailing the specific things that they can take off of your plate (not to be confused with the things they better be putting on that breakfast in bed plate.) The point is for you to have an amazing day, and that is exactly what your family wants to give you.

If your goal for Mother’s day is to be drowned in surprises, these tips might not be for you. But if your goal is to get to enjoy a day that is what you want, maybe these five tips can help you get there.

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Anneliese King lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and three wild boys. She's passionate about supporting parents through laughter and real talk on her instagram page @shittymommymoments, and putting a stop to the notion that your house, your hair, or your mental health should appear perfectly intact at all times in order to be a good mom to your kids.