Since it was first conceived by Julia Ward Howe (the composer of the Battle Hymn of the Republic) in 1870, and officially established by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914, Mother’s Day has become a proud American tradition that’s now also observed in more than 70 countries. One study found that Mother’s Day has the highest phone call traffic of any day of the year, and another found more than two-thirds of consumers buy flowers on Mother’s Day, at a total cost of $2.4 billion, in addition to spending $2.2 billion on gift cards. What more can anyone say about mothers that hasn’t already been said? Well, I think it’s time for a fundamental change to the Mother’s Day ritual.
From this Mother’s Day forward, I propose that the first Thursday of every month be declared Monthly Mother’s Day. And the third Wednesday of every month shall henceforth be declared Monthly Father’s Day. Every household with a mom gets special treatment for her on the first Thursday of the every month, and every household with a dad gets special treatment for him on the third Wednesday of every month. This gives us 12 opportunities to celebrate parenthood with our kids, and 12 times the number of traditions, memories, and family moments.
Why shouldn’t these new holidays be on Sundays like their namesake annual celebrations? Because weekends are for big traditions, and these are small observances that don’t require a whole day; they can fit into school nights, early bedtimes, and daily routines. These are family traditions that should take little time and no money—they don't have to involve gifts, dinner, or brunch in a restaurant—but they do require a fair amount of thought, something special that isn’t done the other days of the month.
One month, mom can have the night “off” after dinner so she can read, take a bath, or watch her favorite show. The next month, the kids can help cook her favorite dinner or create a hand-painted picture frame. Ditto for dads on their special Wednesdays. When your kids are young, of course, they’re going to need help planning and executing these monthly events, much as they do with the annual ones. In two-parent homes, take turns. If you’re a single parent, it’s just fine to help your kids plan your own special monthly day. Best of all, everyone still gets to celebrate the “real” Mother’s Day and Father’s Day—with flowers and gift cards, if you must!
While we’re at it, why not establish a monthly Kids’ Day, too? Like the second Tuesday of every month. On these days, parents can prepare kids’ favorite meal or dessert, host game night, or go out for ice cream.
Life’s short. The years go by fast. You can never have too many reasons to celebrate each other. And thinking about ways to honor mom, dad, and kids is good for the soul, and good for the whole family. May 14, 2017 may be the “real” Mother's Day, but the one after that will be coming up soon, so start thinking. Happy Mother’s Day, everyone!
Dr. Harley A. Rotbart is Professor and Vice Chairman Emeritus of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children's Hospital Colorado. He is a Parents advisor and the author of books for parents and families, including No Regrets Parenting, 940 Saturdays, and Miracles We Have Seen - America's Leading Physicians Share Stories They Can't Forget. Visit his website and blog at harleyrotbart.com and follow him on Twitter and Facebook.