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What Every Mother Secretly Wants For Mothers Day

What Every Mother Secretly Wants For Mothers Day

Mother’s Day may be a bit over three months away, but it is never too early for people to think about what they should do. So, what extravagant gift should someone get to show how much they appreciate their mother or their wife?

Nothing. Or rather, that sort of thinking is the wrong way to go about things.

Mom does not want to go to some spa. She does not want some ridiculous French perfume, or to take a day trip to the beach or to go out to some expensive restaurant. She does not want the $170 which families are spending now on Mother’s Day.

She wants to be herself. Not Mom, but Susan or Jean or Molly or Rachel or Sally. And she wants to be left alone to be herself for a bit. To relax and not have to worry about the kids for just a little bit.

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So, here are some ways which a husband or a child can work to give Mom the Mother’s Day gift that she truly deserves. Time to relax.

They want you to clean up

Let us be fair. Mom cleans up. She almost always cleans up. She tells you to clean up and you say you will. Then you forget and she eventually gets around to doing it herself. Because that’s what Mom does.

Well, how about you actually do it for a change? Clean the house. Every speck of it. And then do the dishes and the laundry as well. Even if you leave Mom alone for a while, leaving her alone with a dirty house is just asking her to clean it. And that is about as rude as you could possibly be on Mother’s Day.

That is a gift which Mom will sincerely appreciate, as these maternal bloggers courtesy of Time can attest.

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They don’t want clothes

When is the last time someone gave you clothes and you were sincerely, truly happy with what you got and it fit you perfectly?

I thought so. All too often, we get some woolen cardigan which looks hideous, but we smile, give out thanks, and stuff that thing at the very back of the closet. Mom will understand the sincerity behind the gift, but that will not make her actually like what you got her.

They want to sleep

I must confess: when I was a child, I would jump on my mother’s bed, shout “Happy Mother’s Day!” at the top of my lungs, and then give her “breakfast in bed” which was a bowl of cereal.

In hindsight, I might as well have walked into that room blasting a trumpet and that would have made things only slightly worse. My mother smiled and said how much she appreciated it, but she would have appreciated it more if I had left her alone, played with my toys, and let her sleep. I know many people will spend hours looking for unique gifts for Mother’s Day, and certainly there are a lot of options out there for things to buy that will make her fear special.

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But, sleep is important, and our society does not get enough sleep as it is. Letting Mom sleep, and taking care of those chores she does every single day while she sleeps, would have been a much better gift than what I actually did.

They want to be left alone

The Globe and Mail has a terrific idea for a perfect Mother’s Day gift. After the house has been cleaned, take the kids and leave. If you can, go to Grandma’s house for the day. Let Mom have four hours where she has no responsibilities whatsoever and is free to read a book, catch up on a TV show or a hobby, and enjoy herself for a time. In the meantime, Grandma will be overjoyed to see the grandkids. She always is.

All of this presumes that you have done everything listed before. But if you have, mom will really have time to be herself and not a mother for a few hours. And she will absolutely appreciate that gift of peace and quiet.

They want your love – but not to be smothered

Our instincts are to crowd Mom and shower her with our love on this special day, but Mom is smothered by responsibilities and work every single day of her life. Thoreau observed that relations should take some time apart from each other so that the bonds will be stronger upon meeting up again. That principle should be applied as you leave Mom alone for just one day.

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So take a moment to let Mom take some time off. That is a cheaper and better gift than something overpriced which she will never get to use precisely because you keep her overworked all this time.

Featured photo credit: Nathan via flickr.com

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Published on January 30, 2019

How to Support a Working Mother as a Working Father

How to Support a Working Mother as a Working Father

In roughly 60 percent of two-parent households with children under the age of 18, both parents work full time. But who takes time off work when the kids are sick in your house? And if you are a manager, how do you react when a man says he needs time to take his baby to the pediatrician?

The sad truth is, the default in many companies and families is to value the man’s work over the woman’s—even when there is no significant difference in their professional obligations or compensation. This translates into stereotypes in the workplace that women are the primary caregivers, which can negatively impact women’s success on the job and their upward mobility.

According to a Pew Research Center analysis of long-term time-use data (1965–2011), fathers in dual-income couples devote significantly less time than mothers do to child care.[1] Dads are doing more than twice as much housework as they used to (from an average of about four hours per week to about 10 hours), but there is still a significant imbalance.

This is not just an issue between spouses; it’s a workplace culture issue. In many offices, it is still taboo for dads to openly express that they have family obligations that need their attention. In contrast, the assumption that moms will be on the front lines of any family crisis is one that runs deep.

Consider an example from my company. A few years back, one of our team members joined us for an off-site meeting soon after returning from maternity leave. Not even two hours into her trip, her husband called to say that the baby had been crying nonstop. While there was little our colleague could practically do to help with the situation, this call was clearly unsettling, and the result was that her attention was divided for the rest of an important business dinner.

This was her first night away since the baby’s birth, and I know that her spouse had already been on several business trips before this event. Yet, I doubt she called him during his conferences to ask child-care questions. Like so many moms everywhere, she was expected to figure things out on her own.

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The numbers show that this story is far from the exception. In another Pew survey, 47 percent of dual-income parents agreed that the moms take on more of the work when a child gets sick.[2] In addition, 39 percent of working mothers said they had taken a significant amount of time off from work to care for their child compared to just 24 percent of working fathers. Mothers are also more likely than fathers (27 percent to 10 percent) to say they had quit their job at some point for family reasons.

Before any amazing stay-at-home-dads post an angry rebuttal comment, I want to be very clear that I am not judging how families choose to divide and conquer their personal and professional responsibilities; that’s 100 percent their prerogative. Rather, I am taking aim at the culture of inequity that persists even when spouses have similar or identical professional responsibilities. This is an important issue for all of us because we are leaving untapped business and human potential on the table.

What’s more, I think my fellow men can do a lot about this. For those out there who still privately think that being a good dad just means helping out mom, it’s time to man up. Stop expecting working partners—who have similar professional responsibilities—to bear the majority of the child-care responsibilities as well.

Consider these ways to support your working spouse:

1. Have higher expectations for yourself as a father; you are a parent, not a babysitter.

Know who your pediatrician is and how to reach him or her. Have a back-up plan for transportation and emergency coverage.

Don’t simply expect your partner to manage all these invisible tasks on her own. Parenting takes effort and preparation for the unexpected.

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As in other areas of life, the way to build confidence is to learn by doing. Moms aren’t born knowing how to do this stuff any more than dads are.

2. Treat your partner the way you’d want to be treated.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard a man on a business trip say to his wife on a call something to the effect of, “I am in the middle of a meeting. What do you want me to do about it?”

However, when the tables are turned, men often make that same call at the first sign of trouble.

Distractions like this make it difficult to focus and engage with work, which perpetuates the stereotype that working moms aren’t sufficiently committed.

When you’re in charge of the kids, do what she would do: Figure it out.

3. When you need to take care of your kids, don’t make an excuse that revolves around your partner’s availability.

This implies that the children are her first priority and your second.

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I admit I have been guilty in the past of telling clients, “I have the kids today because my wife had something she could not move.” What I should have said was, “I’m taking care of my kids today.”

Why is it so hard for men to admit they have personal responsibilities? Remember that you are setting an example for your sons and daughters, and do the right thing.

4. As a manager, be supportive of both your male and female colleagues when unexpected situations arise at home.

No one likes or wants disruptions, but life happens, and everyone will face a day when the troubling phone call comes from his sitter, her school nurse, or even elderly parents.

Accommodating personal needs is not a sign of weakness as a leader. Employees will be more likely to do great work if they know that you care about their personal obligations and family—and show them that you care about your own.

5. Don’t keep score or track time.

At home, it’s juvenile to get into debates about who last changed a diaper or did the dishes; everyone needs to contribute, but the big picture is what matters. Is everyone healthy and getting enough sleep? Are you enjoying each other’s company?

In business, too, avoid the trap of punching a clock. The focus should be on outcomes and performance rather than effort and inputs. That’s the way to maintain momentum toward overall goals.

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The Bottom Line

To be clear, I recognize that a great many working dads are doing a terrific job both on the home front and in their professional lives. My concern is that these standouts often aren’t visible to their colleagues; they intentionally or inadvertently let their work as parents fly under the radar. Dads need to be open and honest about family responsibilities to change perceptions in the workplace.

The question “How do you balance it all?” should not be something that’s just asked of women. Frankly, no one can answer that question. Juggling a career and parental responsibilities is tough. At times, really tough.

But it’s something that more parents should be doing together, as a team. This can be a real bonus for the couple relationship as well, because nothing gets in the way of good partnership faster than feelings of inequity.

On the plus side, I can tell you that parenting skills really do get better with practice—and that’s great for people of both sexes. I think our cultural expectations that women are the “nurturers” and men are the “providers” needs to evolve. Expanding these definitions will open the doors to richer contributions from everyone, because women can and should be both—and so should men.

Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com

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