Ahh Mother's Day.
One day a year when I am expected to wrap up all that my mom means to me. One day. Each year I rack my brain for a gift that's worthy of such an occasion, but my budget tends to squash any extravagant ideas that might come through and I'm left trying to be clever. I have to admit though, something I've learned? My mom is never really looking for anything expensive. So here it is, my list of:
Top 10 Inexpensive Mother's Day Gifts:
1.) Clean her entire house from top to bottom. I mean heavy duty spring cleaning. Make a full day out of it. Be sure she comes home to the cleanest house she's ever seen.
2.) Weed her entire garden. And do it right. No point chopping everything off at the surface if it just comes back in a few days. That's really more of a sick joke than a present...
3.) Run her list of errands. I don't mean pay for her list of errands, you can't afford that. But you can get everything done for her. Grocery store, post office, pharmacy. You pick up her cat's diebetes medication from the vet. You take her car in to get the oil changed and tires rotated.
And be sure not to bother her about it either. Getting a call from you every ten minutes asking questions will cause more stress than if she just did it herself. Store sold out of wheat bread? Go to a different store! Don't call her asking if white bread will be fine (of course it will be fine, she's not a bread-nazi); but that's not the point. It's her day, damnit, and if there's wheat bread at the store across town than drive your lazy ass across town and get it.
4.) Play any game she wants to play. You hate backgammon? Gin and Rummy? Suck it up. I'm sure she's played plenty of games with you that she hasn't wanted to play. Think "hide-n-seek in store clothing racks", "how many things can a toilet flush", or my personal favorite, "please don't tell dad".
5.) Make her favorite meal (and clean up afterwards of course). Something you don't know how to make? Figure it out. Use your big kid skills. It's the effort she's looking for here, not whether or not it's Iron Chef worthy.
6.) Organize the family photos. All mother's want a collection of their family memories at their fingertips. Start with a blank album and organize everything chronologically. Bonus points if you can scrapbook!
7.) Make her a quilt of yours and/or all your siblings' baby blankets/baby clothes. Can't sew? Me neither. Find someone who can. Surely you have a cousin or a friend who's a wiz on a sewing machine. Don't feel like spending hours a day at your Great-Aunt Murtle's learning to sew? Deal with it. This isn't a list of easiest, last minute presents, it's a list of frugal presents. You probably don't see your Great-Aunt Murtle enough anyway.
8.) Make her a list of all the reasons why she is the best mother ever.
I know, I know, this sounds like a 2nd grade cop-out present, but I've heard from a lot of mothers (mine included) that there's always a sliver of doubt in the back of their mind wondering if they were the best mothers they could have been. Reassure her of these doubts. Were you in ballet and hated it? Explain how it made you appreciate soccer. Were you upset about moving to a new school in junior high? List the different friends you made, or opportunities you had because of the move.
For example, my mother was a single mom for awhile, and she waitressed early morning shifts at a cafe. She would get my brother and I ready for school at 3 in the morning, bring us to work with her, and then give us a quarter for every table we bussed after a customer left. Of course I didn't like it then, but that experience is a huge part of the "do what you need to do" work ethic I have now. Tell her that. She would like to know.
9.) Surprise her with a picnic. Do all the planning, all the packing, and all the cleanup. Bring a camera.
10.) Make her a card the old-fashioned way. This has always been my mom's personal favorite. She keeps all the cards, whether it's from when we were 5 or when we were 20. The importance here is that it's hand-done. Don't type the words out, hand write them. Just the sight of your handwriting adds a personal touch.
I say if you can afford an expensive spa day or jewelry for your mom than go for it! And if you can't? Do something on this list. The point isn't how much money you spend, it's that you do something that can convey how thankful you are for all she's done for you. This seems like a tall order, and it is, but if I've learned anything about mothers it's this: their love is unconditional, and they don't ask for much. So put in the effort, try your best and enjoy your time together.
Think about it. That's what she's been doing your entire life.