It’s not Thanksgiving or Christmas, but Mother’s Day still can carry with it much of the same kind of emotional baggage that holidays and other family celebrations do when you are separated or newly divorced. Is this your first Mother’s Day since your split? Things may be very different this year, but one thing is the same: You are still a mom and you still deserve a special day.
How can you celebrate your new status as a single mom? Here are some ideas for how to create a day filled with joy. On the other hand, are you a dad wondering how to help your kids honor their mother, even if she is no longer your wife? We’ve got tips on how to make that happen, too.
For Single Moms
1. Have Fun on a Budget: Did past Mother’s Days always include eating out in a restaurant? If it was your ex who always orchestrated things, check out the many “mom discounts” out there for this Sunday — many restaurants run “moms eat free!” brunch specials to sweeten the deal for Mother’s Day. Museums, theaters, stores, and other mom-friendly locations may also offer discounts on Sunday when mothers show up with kids in tow. If your kids are old enough to be aware of Mother’s Day and want to celebrate it with you as a fun family day, these deals and discounts can help make it happen — while still staying within your budget.
2. Start New Traditions: If every single Mother’s Day, your husband gave you a rose bush to plant in the garden, think of new ways to mark the day. Perhaps Mother’s Day becomes the first beach day of the year, or the day you and your kids plant a vegetable garden in the back yard, or the day you spend together heading out to see one of the new summer blockbusters. Establishing new traditions can be a powerful way for families to embrace post-divorce life together.
3. Find Another Mother in Need of Celebrating: Is your own mother close by? Have another single mom friend? Have an empty nester aunt who could use a little company? Get together for a picnic lunch out in the beautiful sunshine and enjoy the company. Having other people around can also be a distraction for kids — and you — to help keep your mind off comparing the day to years past.
4. Take Time for Self-Care: Does your ex-husband have the kids today? Turn your Mother’s Day into Mamma Gets Her Groove Back Day and take some time just for you. Go get that mani-pedi you know you deserve, read a good book, see a funny movie (even a funny movie about divorce), get a massage, or just go for a long walk in nature to clear your head. You deserve it, mom!
Single Dads: Helping Your Kids Celebrate Their Mom
1. Remember that Mother’s Day is Also About Your Kids: Take into account that your children may be wondering what you are going to do to help them celebrate their mom, even if she is your ex-wife. If you have custody of the kids starting Friday after school, ask your school-age kids if they made anything for their mom at school — and then make sure this gets to her! It might be nice, if the kids could drop them off in person on Sunday, if possible. If the kids are in the habit of leaving their belongings behind at your place, make sure — at minimum –that these gifts get packed up to take home.
2. Help Them Do Something Special: Have them pick out cards for their mother, or make cards. Making something special for Mother’s Day doesn’t have to mean spending extra money, if that is a concern. Have your kids make coupon books for their mother with coupons for fun things like, “one bear hug” — it’s really the thought that counts. To avoid confusion for your children, be clear in everything you say about these gifts and cards, that the sender of them is the child. . . Try to use language like, “Your card for your Mom is really nice.” or “Why don’t you pick out something that you can give to your mother.” If you say, “Let’s get something for Mommy,” the problem you could potentially be setting up is that your child thinks you are in on the gift-giving. He or she may ask you to sign the card or be there to give the gift. If you do want to do these things, fine. But just understand the mixed signals this could possibly send to your child.
3. Consider Making An Exception: In an article for the Huffington Post, WLG’s Bari Weinberger wrote about negotiating extra time with children around the holidays. No matter how tense things are between the two of you right now, can you step back for a minute and think what allowing your children a few hours to go out to brunch with their mom on Sunday morning could mean for them? This solution might not work for everyone, but this Mother’s Day, at least try to consider what is truly best for the children of this mother. And then consider this: Father’s Day is only six weeks away and if you extend the favor now, you may just get it repaid next month!