For mothers, similar to those in relationships on Valentine’s Day, there can be a lot of expectations for Mother’s Day. There are hopes of breakfast in bed, partners taking over household tasks, cards and flowers, and kids trying to be extra good that day. It feels great to be appreciated by those who depend on you for so much. Mothers deserve this kind of admiration, and it can be disappointing not to receive it.

However, one does not become a mother because they are hoping for thanks. Mothers would do it all and more for their kids without expecting anything in return, and do much behind the scenes that no one even knows about. So this Mother’s Day, give yourself the gift of self-care and recognition.

The person whose appreciation ought to matter the most is your own. Here are ways to honor yourself this Mother’s Day.

  1. Give yourself permission. Allow yourself to acknowledge your true wants and needs. Mothers tend to deny their feelings in selfless gestures to provide for their families. A mother’s love is a precious and beautiful thing- but at the same time one should not feel guilty about admitting that you have needs too. Take a vacation, spend some money on yourself, dedicate time to your career- and don’t make yourself feel guilty for doing it. Your partner and kids will appreciate the happy, refreshed you.
  2. Say no. Moms are great at planning and multitasking, but you cannot do it all. Be realistic about the commitments you are making, and when you may have to cut some from the team. It can be difficult for mothers to feel like they are disappointing someone, especially their child or partner. However, setting boundaries is essential for staying sane. If your child is asking for a Disney princess theme party complete with bounce house and that falls on the same weekend before an important presentation at work that you must prepare for, maybe it’s a good time to say no.
  3. Ask for help. It can be difficult to ask for assistance- it feels embarrassing, like you can’t do what your family needs, or you don’t want to bother someone with your problems. Think of it this way- mothers do so much to help their loved ones that within reason they can expect that others will do the same for them. What goes around will come around. So if you want to have a much-needed dinner out, ask a neighbor to babysit, or take your kids to spend the night at grandma’s.
  4. Adjust your expectations. Mothers today often have it in their heads that they have to be the perfect mom- being a PTA member and chauffeuring the kids to numerous activities while making sure to have a healthy, home-cooked meal on the table every night in a spotless house. Instead of striving for perfection, which is a torturous and unrealistic goal, try to be a good enough parent. Sometimes picking up KFC and leaving the dishes for the next day is okay.
  5. Find yourself. Being a mom is a full-time job, and it can consume you. Children literally depend on you for life, especially at the beginning. You may have been so busy taking care of others that you forgot when the last time was that you had a hobby of your own, worked out, or did something with only you in mind. Reclaim your identity- train for a 5k, join a gym, or go back for a degree in the career you always wanted. One day the kids will be all grown up- and then what will you be left with?
  6. Take time just for you. This means you alone- not even with a partner. Sometimes it can be healthy to just get away from the people with whom you spend every day and have some quiet, soul-searching or relaxing time for yourself alone. Take a weekend away to go to the beach by yourself or with friends, and don’t worry about being available the whole time to run your home from afar- have faith that those you left in charge of your kids can be trusted to handle it without you.
  7. Set a good example. Learning to love yourself sets a good example for your kids. How can you love them completely, if you haven’t learned to give that respect and care to yourself first? All of the suggestions covered here are ways to help mothers maintain self-esteem and self-respect. These are important qualities for your kids, especially daughters, to take on.

Author: Grace Norberg, AMFT