Celebrating Mother's Day as a single mom is not the same as when you were a married mom.
For starters, whether your minor children will be with you depends on your parenting agreement. If you're in the process of getting divorced, stop reading this right now, pull out your draft parenting agreement and see what it says about holidays. If celebrating Mother's Day with your kids is important to you, write a short email to your soon-to-be ex or your attorney and ask for these days to be included.
1. Negotiate your time to include Mother's Day. If you're divorced and your children aren’t scheduled to be with you because Mother's Day has been overlooked in your agreement, try negotiating with your ex -- there's Father's Day to offer as an even exchange. If he agrees, then unless you want to be negotiating this every year, it's best to get your agreement amended. You can check with your local court on how to do this and it's something you and your ex should be able to do yourselves with minimal fees.
2. Otherwise, celebrate on a different day. If your ex isn't agreeable to an exchange of parenting time or it's not possible because of other commitments, don't give up on celebrating the day. Look for a day when your children will be with you that you can deem to be Mother's Day. Don't worry that it isn't the actual Mother's Day. Chances are, it won't be the only occasion you'll have to celebrate on an alternate date -- it's bound to happen on your birthday and even your children's birthdays at some point. And as your children get older and their activities increase, conflicting schedules will become a fact of life.
When you're juggling all the legalities of your divorce, you might be tempted to just sit out this holiday ... but don't! Holidays and festivals are important rituals and they're part of what makes a family. Think about how many of your own memories about your family are centered around an occasion. Recreating these traditions after divorce is an important part of reassuring your children that you are still a family.
3. Make it a low- or no-cost celebration. Hopefully, while you were married, your ex orchestrated treats for you on Mother's Day. If you're really lucky, he may still do so but don't count on it. You can hope your children will take the initiative and they might, especially if they have a teacher who's working on a craft project for Mother's Day. Better yet, this is an opportunity to talk to your children about how to demonstrate their love through acts of kindness and thoughtfulness which involve little or no money and which can be more meaningful than any purchased gift. Think of age-appropriate acts they could do for you that would make the day different from any other day.
You could, for example, set Mother's Day as a day when you do no household chores and you might enlist your children's support in making sure they pick up after themselves without you having to ask. A day of no laundry? A day when your children have to clear away after each meal? You could suggest to your children you would like to sleep late which means they have to get themselves up quietly and make their own breakfast. Better yet, they could bring you breakfast in bed. You could have a movie afternoon together where you get to choose the movie (it's your day, after all).
If your children don't have their own money (is it time for an allowance?) or have very limited funds, think of gift ideas that play to your children's talents and interests such as writing a poem, drawing a picture, a craft project or making a movie. Any child who's old enough to use iTunes is old enough to make you a playlist of their songs that they think you'll enjoy.
Again, this might seem like work and something you shouldn’t have to do for your day but it goes back to recreating those family traditions. Take the time now and your children will be learning a valuable lesson about honoring the people they love not just for next Mother's Day but for any occasion. Take this one step further and when it comes to Father's Day, talk to your children about what they can do to make the day special for their father and do this even if your ex was completely absent from your Mother's Day. This isn't about him, this is about teaching your children to appreciate the people they love.
Divorce coach, Mandy Walker is the founder of the divorce support blog Since My Divorce. Contact Mandy for a free 30-minute New Beginnings consultation to find out if divorce coaching is right for you. You can also download Mandy's Visioning Your Life After Divorce workbook at no charge.
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Click through the slideshow below for great Mother's Day gift ideas for single moms.