Planning on a Relaxing Mother's Day Gift? Make Sure to Also Give Mom Time to Use It

Bath bombs and massage gift cards are thoughtful, but let's also give moms the space and time they need to truly lighten their mental load.

mother enjoying coffee in bed on mother's day

Kelly Knox/Stocksy

Clear your bathroom cabinet (if you have time). Mother's Day is coming up, and you know what that means: You're about to get a whole lot of essential oils, candles, and bath bombs. You may already have a bunch—unused—from years past. I know I did when, after three years and two pandemic kids, I spring-cleaned my home and threw it all away. It only heightened my existential crisis of bringing my kids into a massive climate disaster.

Anyway, it seems Reddit can relate. One mom had a short but simple request in the r/Mommit subreddit.

"If you get me a bath bomb for Mother's Day, can you also find me some time to use it, please?" wrote the user, whose very relatable screen name is u/justgoawayplease. "I don't foresee my own bathtime until this tiny boy has grown up and gone off to school."

This definitely resonated with other Redditors. The post has more than 150 comments, mostly lamenting lost moments of peace and quiet. "I asked for a massage last year, and my husband bought the gift card but told me I needed to make the appointment. 'I didn't know when you were free.' Uh, literally any Saturday or Sunday when you're able to watch the child?" wrote one commenter.

My husband got me a spa gift card for Christmas in 2019, which I used for my birthday in…March of 2023. (It was more COVID than him "not knowing when I was free," though. Thankfully.)

Speaking of COVID (what a time, no?):

"I bought myself a nice wooden breakfast-in-bed tray last year in early May and announced that it was so everyone could make me breakfast in bed for Mother's Day," another poster noted. "A few days later, we all started dropping from COVID, and a year later, it has become the 'eat in your room and keep your germs to yourself' food tray for whichever child happens to have a contagious illness that I'm trying to keep away from the other kids. I haven't used it once. Motherhood."

Hopefully, she gets to use it this year on Mother's Day. But it speaks to an issue so many moms face: We're burned out, and this idea of "self-care" seems elusive.

The definition of true self-care has become controversial in recent years. Are crystals and bath bombs and spa days really self-care? Sort of. OK, sure, if they work for you. But system-shaking changes that actually support and lift people up would allow for genuine self-care, Pooja Lakshmin, M.D. argues in her new book Real Self-Care.

I'd argue the Reddit thread begging for time to use a bath bomb and Dr. Lakshmin's are intertwined, though: Lack of support makes showering alone feel impossible and like a tiny luxury when it happens. (It's not.) A bath with bath bombs, bubbles, and maybe one of the 80 Yankee candles you have lit? Yeah, OK.

Fundamental changes like paid leave, more affordable childcare, empathetic employers, and financial support are needed. But since the system can't even get four weeks of paid leave to the President's desk, we will have to (unfortunately) take matters into our own hands.

This leap means asking for help. First Lady Dr. Jill Biden does it in writing, using Post-It notes to give instructions to dinner guests. But don't be afraid to be verbally direct with any applicable co-parent or family members. During these frank, much-needed conversations:

  • Divide and conquer: Divvying up tasks ensures not everything falls on you. Maybe you tell your partner they're in charge of making annual pediatrician and flu shot appointments every year while you take on scheduling parent-teacher conferences.
  • Play to strengths: Think about what each of you is good at. Are you particularly handy? You could deal with the DIY-able household repairs, while your partner, who is an expert party planner, deals with all things birthday bashes every year.
  • Re-assess: Remember, though, nothing is set in stone. Check in frequently (such as weekly or monthly) to discuss how things are going and what you need.

When you take these steps, you're not just unloading items on your to-do list but lightening the mental load that comes with it.

And it may free you up to have more time for a bubble bath. Bonus: It'll be one in which you won't be mentally running through your to-do list.

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