Every year in May we are bombarded by ads for gifts for Mother’s Day. You know the ones: bath salts and chocolates and lunch specials. And that’s all very nice but  I feel like these options for Mother’s Day are aimed more at the husbands/fathers and kids than the mothers. 

[Related: When is Mother’s Day in South Africa? In 2024, Mother’s Day is on Sunday 12 May. Just in case you weren’t sure.]

You know, here’s a nice, pretty gift that is easy to find and quick to buy. No need to think about what your wife/mother really wants for Mother’s Day! We know what women want! So give them a soppy badly written card they’ll “treasure” forever, a bunch of over-priced flowers and a box of Valentine’s chocolates which have been repurposed for Mother’s Day. If you want to earn some serious brownie points, get her a kitchen appliance! Because  nothing says “I love you” like reminding them they should be barefoot and cooking in the kitchen.

We know you all mean well but I think you’re missing the point slightly. 

I have an unpopular opinion: Mother’s Day should not involve partners or children. 

There, I said it.

Being a mother involves our children every day. We think about our family every minute of every day, whether they are with us or not. So why don’t we get to focus on ourselves for one day a year. I mean, if you really want to show me appreciation for all the things I do as a mom, let me NOT be a mom for a day.

Yes, I’m talking about the mental motherload of being a mom. It’s a thing, I swear.

And this isn’t just my opinion, by the way. I asked a range of mothers what they’d really like for Mother’s Day and the answers were all pretty much the same: 

  • A massage and champagne
  • Girl time
  • Time without the husband and kids 
  • Time to get my hair/nails done
  • A momcation
  • A break from momming
  • A babysitter

Don’t get me wrong. We do enjoy gifts, but can we try make them a bit more useful – um, in the most un-useful sense of the word? Things for ourselves we’ve actually said that we want or need and don’t have the money or probably don’t feel like we “are allowed” to buy. Gifts that seem selfish to us but are very normal for anyone else. Gifts that are gifts solely for us, to make us feel good.

The best Mother's Day gift: a lunch out, without the kids

My first Mother’s Day: lunch at Jordan while the baby slept peacefully at home

So let’s look at the usual suspects when it comes to Mother’s Day gifts – best Mother’s Day gifts and last-minute Mother’s Day gifts – and look at how we can upgrade them to a Mother’s Day gift she really wants. An authentic guide to gifts for Mother’s Day, real Mother’s Day gift ideas, if you will.

Let’s start with flowers.

I love flowers. But I know that flowers on Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day are exorbitantly over-priced. So I’d rather you buy me flowers on every other day!

Or you can be trendy and give us these timeless flowers:

                    Click to buy from Loot.co.za                                                                   Click to buy from Loot.co.za

Clothing. Moms spend a lot of time shopping. For birthday gifts, kid’s clothing, groceries, stationery, teacher’s presents…But it’s not often we get to buy some sort of luxury item for ourselves. Not a new jersey because our favourite one got ruined in the wash. Or a new dress because the other one ripped. I mean, clothes – just for the sake of clothes! Talk about luxury!

For me, winter boots are always a good one. I wear them practically every day in winter and the good ones are pricey. But if my husband buys them for me I can pretend I don’t know how much they cost and wear them with reckless abandon!

                   Click to buy from cottonon.com                                                            Click to buy

Or this trench coat. Do I have a trench coat? Yes. Would I love another one? Of course. Would I spend R1 000 on a trench coat? Probably not.

Or it could be something as simple as this dress from Mr Price Sport

Click here to buy

A brunch/lunch/meal out

We know you enjoy taking us out for brunch/lunch/dinner. For Mother’s Day you may even stretch as far as a picnic. Great. But I can tell you what we don’t like is choosing the restaurant, making the booking, packing a day-out bag for the kids. We’re tired of making all the decisions. 

Let us go out shock horror on our own or with our girlfriends. Can someone else please look after the kids for the day?! Book a bottomless brunch for her and a group of her momfriends. Don’t ask her where she wants to go, just book a table somewhere nice and let her know what time she’s expected and how many people she can invite.

If you want to cook for her – and by cook we mean shop and cook and clean up and watch the kids while you’re doing all that – then these days you don’t even need to do very much to pull off a seriously good meal in your own kitchen. Head to uCook and sign up for a Weekend Box.

And while you’re there, their Mother’s Day bundle looks pretty cool too.

                   Click here to buy from uCook.                                                         Click here to buy 

A book. With the price of books these days, a book is a great idea. But please choose a book she’ll really like. Recipe books are amazing – if she likes cooking or baking! Hard to believe but she might not want to read Easy Lunchbox Ideas For The Busy Mom in her free time. Choose a book that suits her interests and that can take her mind on an adventure for a while.

This Foodies book is one of my faves because it totally suits my cooking style! And a Jodi Picoult novel is never a wrong idea for me. Imagine: sunshine, a good coffee, cake for breakfast – and hours and hours of uninterrupted reading time.

                                  Click to buy                                                                                    Click to buy

So those are the usual suspects, with added zhuzh.

But let’s take it up a notch, if your budget allows.

Why not gift the mom of your family a holiday? A few days away from the family and work, where she can do exactly what she wants. This can be as simple as booking an Airbnb in Franschhoek for a weekend, or a a flight on Travelstart if you’ve got the cash to spare.

In a nutshell: What is the best gift to give on Mother’s Day – what she wants!

And most of the time, that’s time. Time alone. Time for herself. Time to breathe.

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