We talk a lot about what to expect from pregnancy, labor, and delivery, but we often don’t talk about the emotional expectations of new motherhood. It can be exhausting and exhilarating, heartwarming and heartbreaking, but the biggest stress factor can often be when our expectations aren’t met.
As a new mom, I was so excited to celebrate my first Mother’s Day. I had built it up to be a momentous occasion, and it turned out so disappointing. I was supposed to be holding my brand new baby, but I was 41 weeks pregnant! I spent the day wanting to celebrate, but not“technically” a mother, and I had to wait a whole year to feel like I could take part in the day.
Whether you’re a new mom, or shopping for the new mom in your life, the best thing you can do is make sure everyone’s on the same page. This doesn’t mean you can’t have surprises; you just need open communication about how you want to celebrate.
If you’re an expectant mom, don’t hesitate to celebrate! You’re growing a whole person; you deserve some attention too!
Sentimental Mother’s Day Gifts
Every year, my husband helps our kids make a new stepping stone for our garden. I love this tradition as a visual reminder of how our family has grown. When I asked our team about their favorite Mother’s Day gifts, everyone raved about presents with a personal touch.
For new moms:
- Hand or footprint keepsake
- Photo Bouquet of the mothers, grandmothers, and children
- A charm bracelet, with new charms added each year
- A New Mom-Aid Kit: a cotton ball (to soften life's hard blows); a Band-Aid (to help heal hurt feelings); a battery (for extra energy when you're feeling drained); a toothpick (to help you pick out the good qualities in your children, especially when they're driving you crazy); a button (to button your lip at those times when it's the best strategy); an eraser (to erase the mistakes you'll make along the way); a candy kiss (to remind you of the simple power of a kiss or a hug); a roll of Life Savers (as a reminder to offer and accept help when needed); a candle (to light the way when things seem darkest); a calling card (to phone a friend or relative when advice or support is needed).
For moms with older kids:
- Hand-painted mug
- Planting a flowering bush, shrub, or tree together
- Wine with these New Mommy Milestone labels
- A memory jar of favorite activities done together, cherished family traditions, the best advice she’s given you, or things she’s done that made a difference in your life
Personalized Photo Mother’s Day Gifts
While everyone seems to have a camera phone readily available, those photos don’t always make it off the phone. Even when they do, it’s just shared to social media.
Some of my most cherished treasures are the framed photographs of my family that grace the walls of my home. I love walking past them each day and being reminded of how fortunate I am.
For new and expectant moms:
- Book a maternity, delivery, or newborn photographer
- Create a scrapbook or photo book from her pregnancy or newborn photos
- Find a photographer who specializes in “month by month” photos
For moms with older kids:
- Book an annual family photo session, placing the photo in a frame each year
- Create a beautiful artsy canvas using a family photo
- Older kids can even work together to create an old-school collage.
Mother’s Day Gifts of Service
New moms absolutely deserve some pampering, especially if they’ve recently given birth, but I think any mother (even the grandmothers!) would love some of these special gifts.
- Spa massage or facial
- An overnight stay at a B&B
- Amazon, iTunes, or Netflix gift cards
- House cleaning service
- Grocery or meal delivery service
These gifts are even more special if they’re a gift of TIME. Some of the best gifts I’ve ever received have been from friends and loved ones who offered their help. They’ve spent time with my boys so I can go shopping, brought dinner over when I’ve been super-busy, or cleaned up the kitchen when I’ve been overwhelmed.
Mother’s Day Gifts to Wear
While jewelry stores push special Mother’s Day pendants and rings, I asked for comfortable nursing pajamas on every holiday and birthday for years. Nothing is quite so welcoming as a cozy pair of jammies (that’s one of the reasons I started Kindred Bravely).
For new and expectant moms:
- A shopping “spree” to enhance her wardrobe with something that makes her feel phenomenal
- A trip to the hairdresser; even having a wash & dry can make a huge difference
- A gift card for nursing gear, from bras and panties, to pajamas and tanks
For all moms:
- Double-sided pendant with a photo and the saying “My Greatest Blessings Call Me Mom”
- Custom mini silhouette necklace or wood portrait pendant
Simple, Affordable Mother’s Day Gifts
The best Mother’s Day gifts for new moms can be simple, thoughtful, and inexpensive. Tears welled in my eyes when my sister presented me with my first Mother’s Day card. It meant so much to realize that she’d been thinking about me not just as a sister but as a new mom.
- A sweet handmade or store-bought card with a few words of encouragement. Deep down, we all want to hear, “You’re a great mom. I see the sacrifices you’ve made, and I appreciate all that you do and all that you are.”
- A bouquet from a nursery, supermarket, or local florist. Instead of picking one of the more expensive offerings online, I go into my local florist and ask, “What can you put together for $20?” Using what they have available and what’s in season, they can arrange some beautiful blooms!
- A baby name block puzzle. Blocks make a cute, thoughtful gift for a friend or sister that’ll look great in the nursery.
- A journal keepsake. Mom’s Five Second Memory Book is one option for a friend or sibling to give that’s sure to elicit a smile from the time-strapped-yet-sentimental new mom who wants a journal for herself. Another journal I write in faithfully for my boys is Mom’s One Line a Day: A Five Year Memory Book, which gives me space to write a couple sentences each day, and is sure to be appreciated by my kids when they are grown.
- A heated neck pillow, tea, and a fun read. Moms don’t get a lot of downtime, but who doesn’t need a few minutes at the end of the evening to decompress? For the mom who is always asking for advice, try Parent Hacks: 134 Genius Shortcuts for Life with Kids or Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon a Project, Read Samuel Johnson, and My Other Experiments in the Practice of Everyday Life. There are also many terrific memoirs penned by moms who know the struggle is real, but at the end of the day, nothing is more gratifying than bringing up baby. Try: Operating Instructions: A Journal of my Son’s First Year, A Girlfriend’s Guide to Surviving The First Year of Motherhood, Beyond One: Growing a Family and Getting a Life, Recipes For a Beautiful Life: A Memoir in Stories, or Waiting for Birdy: A Year of Frantic Tedium, Neurotic Angst, and the Wild Magic of Growing a Family
There are so many wonderful ways to celebrate Mother’s Day. Some moms take a day off, some spend special quality time with their kids (or their own moms), and others may have only a few minutes with family between other commitments.
No matter how you choose to spend the day, I hope the suggestions we’ve compiled here help you find something to make the day special.
Be you bravely.