Give Mom A Free Week!
give Mom the one thing she never, ever seems to get for herself
Last year, my family came up with an idea that turned out to be the very best gift my mother had ever gotten in her life for Mother's Day. It wasn't expensive, everyone in the family got to help with the gift and to my mother, it turned out to be priceless.
We gave Mom a free week. She didn't have to cook, she didn't have to clean, she didn't have to run errands, she didn't have to look after anyone but herself and even a lot of that was taken care of for her. She got to have an entire week to do whatever she wanted. When was the last time you knew a Mom who got to do that?
This page will talk about how we did it, and how you and your family can give this priceless and meaningful gift to the Mom in your family. Not only will she remember this forever, but all her friends will be envious.
How The Idea Came Together
everyone loves it when a plan comes together
So, yet another Mother's Day holiday was approaching and the whole family was stumped for what to get Mom for the holiday. She's retired now, likes to do all sorts of hobbies, and has all kinds of things she likes to collect. But over the years, my family has shifted from just giving material presents to trying to create experiences and not just give each other more stuff.
My sister gets credit for coming up with the idea. She remembered how our mom was always saying she wished she had a week where she could just work on her art and not be interrupted ever by my dad or have to stop what she was doing to do the cooking. So, why not just give Mom what she really wanted and what she couldn't just give herself?
We decided to call it an art retreat and soon the plan had come together to make a fake brochure advertising this "retreat center" (her own house) and the specialized experience that she would get for an entire week. In your family, what you choose to call the Event and how long it's going to last will depend on what the Mom in your life likes to do and how much of a break she'd enjoy. It might be just a weekend, it might be as long as a whole week. No matter what you come up with, the idea is to let her have free time to do whatever she wants and help make sure she does it.
Ideas and Models
Here are some books that talk about taking retreats or breaks from the day to day. If you are really stuck, or have a Mom who really needs a break but has a super-hard time actually taking one, these books might be very useful.
It's All About Mom
The trick isn't to come up with a plan for what Mom will be doing for an entire week, but to set up everything around her so that she gets to do whatever she wants, like if she was at a hotel or on a vacation.
Getting Mom Out Of The Kitchen
all Mom has to do is eat
If there's one treat that most Moms can agree on, it's that getting a break from cooking for the family is a good thing. To give Mom's free week a feeling like she was on vacation or at an artist's retreat, we decided she woudln't have to cook at all the entire time. Using some regular ol' word processing software that came with forms, we took a checklist template and turned it into a fancy meal ordering form for her to fill out before her free week began.
We listed all sorts of breakfast, lunch and dinner options. What foods we put on there were a mix of things we knew she liked to eat. There were some options for fancier breakfasts or brunch on the weekend of the experience, and we said she could choose to eat out at a restaurant a few times (complete with personalized driver/car service) if she wanted too.
Dad, who isn't much of a cook, could handle a lot of the simple breakfasts and lunches, and my sister and I broke down the more complex meals into things that we could either cook parts of ahead of time and have Dad assemble, or had the fancy home-cooked dinners take place on nights when we could go to their house and do the cooking. This gave Mom a whole week of no cooking on her part, a fancy dinner out with the whole family and many home-cooked meals where her sole responsibility was to eat. No planning, no shopping, no cooking and no dishes.
All Together Now
So that no one person has to feel overwhelmed break down all the chores and responsibilities so that the entire family shares in creating the experience.
It's All About Mom
keeping Mom's wishes in the forefront
When it comes to the planning (or non-planning) the key thing to keep saying over and over is "what does Mom really want?" In our case, Mom didn't want to be disturbed at all. She didn't want anything to distract her when she had an idea going. This was a bit tough for Dad as he's used to asking her all sorts of questions before he does things around the house. My sister and I made sure one or the other of us was available for him to ask or to be on call in case he needed to be distracted.
Does your Mom want to go places? She should have the option to just go off on her own or get driven places she wants to go. Mom should be free to go shopping, visit art galleries, read, surf the Internet, do art, garden, knit, go to the gym, get her hair and nails done or whatever it is that she wants to do.
For meals, Mom got breakfast and lunch on request because they were easy to make quickly. For dinner, we asked her to pick a time, like you would have if you were going to a restaurant or at a resort or retreat where meals times are scheduled. She wasn't called for dinner, she knew when it would happen so she could work right up until dinner time, stop what she was doing, wash up, come eat and then go right back to what she was doing without a second thought about dishes. That way we could stay organized and she could still feel like her time was all her own.
If you think you'd like to give the Mom at your house some free time and you have a question, ask away! If you have any ideas that you think people would find helpful, please share! And if you actually gave your Mom a retreat/break/free-week, tell us how it went!