The big problem with giving Mum a day off ‘her’ chores
Happy Mother's Day to all Mothers out there! I hope you are having a special day and your Mother's Day presents are exactly what you want.
Mother's Day gifts are often a mixed bag, but we have made inroads.
I remember the days when catalogues of Mother's Day gifts mostly included vacuum cleaners and irons - as if Mothers were the Chief Ministers for Dirt and Wrinkle Removal.
Some of the supposed gifts from kids don't end up as gifts at all. A friend of mine has put the kybosh on her son making her breakfast in bed.
This is because she knew it was highly likely that he would need her help to make her scrambled eggs and decaf coffee, that the bed sheets would likely need changing afterwards, and the kitchen would need a thorough cleaning after his Junior Master Chefing used every plate and utensil available.
And she was pretty sure she'd be the one doing it all.
For gift ideas, the Mother's Day stalls offered at schools are particularly helpful for families, particularly for single parents who don't have a partner to supervise gift giving and monitoring what actually qualifies for a gift.
There is something special about the face washer in the "Mum" Mug or the notebook and pen which is made even more special because you know your child chose it.
Often their explanations of why they thought the gift would be useful, "Because you write things", add to the charm. But there is one popular item often sold that I do want to question and that is Mother's Day coupons.
These are books of coupons such as Big Hug, Night off Cooking, or Tidy My Room that a child can give the mother at other times throughout the year, making it become a gift that supposedly keeps on giving.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with the indulgent coupons in the packs, such as a hug, a foot massage, or the drawing of a special picture, but what I do have objection to is the chores being done for their mother.
As if the job is typically the responsibility of the mother and the child is taking it off their hands for one moment.
I am not suggesting that some of the Father's Day coupons are any better.
Offering to take the task of washing the car or mowing the lawn off their father is also suggesting that it is always his job and that only one day of the year will the child take it over.
Even if the coupons don't suggest gendered chores of dads doing the outside work, mums doing the inside work, I still have problems with the idea that children should see these chores as primarily the domain of their parent.
Once your children reach an age where they can do a task like making their bed, or cleaning their room, then it technically becomes something they do for themselves, not for their parents.
More importantly, chores such as cleaning the kitchen or making meals is a job for the whole family.
If your child can manage the task for Mother's or Father's Day, then I don't see why they can't manage to be doing it every other day of the year.
The quality of anyone's relationship is not dependent on the romantic nature of their Valentine Day's plans, but on the respect and care they show each other on the other 364 days of the year. Mother's Day is no different.
If your child can do it once, they can do it for the rest of the year and that is truly going to make a difference.
Sure, it is the thought that counts on the day, but thoughtfulness every other day is going to be much more appreciated.
Stuck for an idea? Try these next year.
- While they love being a parent, I'm sure there are things they miss about their childfree days, such as going to the movies without superheroes or animation, getting a complete workout at the gym, or eating in an adult restaurant with adult conversation. Ask them what they miss and offer them the chance to have the experience on the day (as well as the time with their children).
- If you have a friend who is a single parent, discretely help their children with their efforts.
- Ask her. Most people prefer genuine joy rather than surprise.
Send your questions to Dr Judith at firstname.lastname@example.org,