Tips and Gifts to Make Mom Feel Special on Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is the perfect time to shower some love on the moms in your life, whether it’s the mom of your children, your mom or someone special whom you want to recognize. While every gift is special, you can use this as an opportunity to think about specific ways to make Mom feel seen and appreciated.

Start Here

Think about her. Truly. There are endless gift ideas out there, and that can feel overwhelming. Often, we end up buying something because it seems like what everyone is telling us to do (or it was easy!) Before you make a purchase, spend a little time thinking about whom you are giving the gift to and ask yourself these questions:

  • What makes her smile?
  • What do I see her looking at in stores or on her phone?
  • How can I make her feel special?
  • Does she have a favorite thing or hobby that she rarely makes time for?
  • What is something she wouldn’t do for herself?

As you think about these questions, really focus on her. If you’re not sure, ask some of the people she is close to, like a good friend or her sister. Even older kids and teens can lend valuable insight. Remember, making her feel seen and understood means focusing on her instead of what you think she needs.

Shop Early if You Can

Mother’s Day is not a surprise. The sooner you start thinking about this and shop, the better. April is a great time to shop because it takes the last-minute stress out of the equation. If you didn’t start early, however, there are still so many great options. And make things easier next year by putting a reminder on your phone now for shopping next April.

Think Beyond the Gift

Mother’s Day is more than a gift. It’s a day. Think about how you want to be intentional about celebrating her. Would she like breakfast in bed, or would she prefer to sleep in? Is she hoping for a day with the kids, or would some time to herself be appreciated?

You can ask her questions like this, but avoid simply saying, “What do you want to do?” Many moms are uncomfortable saying what they truly want. Plus, asking that makes it one more thing for her to figure out. And she definitely doesn’t need that.

A lot of moms will appreciate and benefit from a combination of time to themselves and time with the family. That could look like a family hike and then some time for her to nap and read. Maybe she would enjoy some time going shopping alone and coming home to a nice family dinner. Another great idea is to take her to breakfast with the kids and then drop her off for a massage that you’ve already scheduled for that day. The less she has to figure out and plan, the better.

Creative Gift Ideas

To help you get started, here are some fun, creative ideas for gifts that moms love and why they are great.

For the book lover: Once Upon a Book Club offers a creative approach to a book subscription service. Each box contains a book along with 3-5 wrapped gifts for her to open at different points in the book. She will love discovering fun gifts as she reads that will remind her of the story long after she is done reading. You can purchase single boxes or monthly and quarterly subscriptions.

For the puzzler: JIGGY offers art in puzzle form. One of Oprah’s favorite things, these specially crafted puzzles are fun to put together and come with glue to preserve the beautiful artwork when completed. Plus, JIGGY offers special holiday and seasonal gift boxes to enhance the puzzle experience with extras like chocolate or luxury bath items.

For the foodie: Make her life extra tasty with a gift or gift card from GoldBelly. A gourmet food market with gifts from around the country, she can have something special delivered right to her door. From making dinner easier with a prepared lobster dinner from Maine or BBQ straight from Texas to a special Ina Garten cake or macarons from Paris, there are tasty treats she will love.

For the coffee/tea drinker: Few things keep a mom going like her morning cup of coffee or tea. Make hers special with a tea subscription from Tea Runners, offering her gourmet loose teas in a variety of flavors. If coffee on the run is more her style, Steeped Coffee offers specialty roasts in single-serve brew bags that taste great and help the planet.

For the mom that needs to relax: Every mom could use a little relaxation in her life, and you can find special gifts that help her do just that. Luxury candles like those from Noa Lux or Opal Road are special choices she probably wouldn’t splurge on for herself. Plus, both companies are woman-owned, a sweet bonus. If she needs a little more help, Pure Enrichment offers lush heated blankets and aromatherapy to help her let it all go.

For the organizer: If order and organization bring a smile to her face, try leveling up her planner and paper products. Ivory Paper Co and Grado offer beautiful journals, planners and stationery to make keeping track of things easier and inspiring.

The Key to Success

Remember, Mother’s Day isn’t about being perfect. It is about celebrating the mom in your life and making her feel special. Make it about her, shop early and plan the day to give her a Mother’s Day she won’t forget!

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5 Reasons Why You Should Join or Start a Parenting Book Club

Whether you are a brand-new parent with a newborn or have been around the parenting block a few times, there is always something new to learn with each age and stage. Parenthood can be quite isolating and frustrating if we try to do it alone. Joining or starting a parenting book club can be a wonderful way to find support while having fun and garnering a whole host of additional benefits.

Here are five reasons you should consider either joining or starting a parenting book club:

Get a break from your family. First and foremost, book clubs are an enjoyable social activity that provide a chance for you to get out of the house for a bit. All parents need a break from their kids and the other responsibilities at home, so a book club is a great excuse to have some time away and recharge your batteries. Book clubs usually only last a couple of hours once a month, so they are not a big commitment. Be sure to add your book club meetings to your calendar way in advance to set up childcare, whether it’s your co-parent or a babysitter.

Meet new friends. Books have the incredible ability to bring people together. Book clubs are a wonderful way to reach out and make new friends, whether you are new to the area, new to parenthood or looking to connect to other parents in your neighborhood, school, etc. Many parents struggle with either being stuck at home with young children all day or feeling far removed from the parenting world if they work. By joining a book club focused on parenting, you can connect with others in your same situation to talk about issues that impact all your lives. If you already enjoy reading, you know it can feel like a solitary hobby, but when you read a book to discuss with others, it brings the experience to a whole other level for you to form new relationships.

Bond with other parents. Besides initiating new friendships, you will find that you can also deepen bonds with others in the book club over time. Attending a parenting book club consistently will help you get to know others in the group as you dive into more personal topics that arise from book discussions. You may discover fascinating stories and interests of other members that lead you to get to know them even more, such as inviting them to get together outside of the book club. The next thing you know, you might be vacationing or sharing holidays with book club friends.

Discover new parenting approaches. Another benefit of being part of a parenting book club is that it helps you learn about new parenting approaches you were not aware of and to see situations from a different perspective. Each book that you read provides unique and interesting ideas from the author. Plus, by being part of a book club, you will get exposed to books and viewpoints that you otherwise may never have even considered. Also, often during conversations about a book, participants will offer parenting tips and tricks that work for them. If you are struggling with a specific issue that comes up in the book or during the discussion, you can ask for advice and walk away with ideas to try at home with your own kids.

Build a healthy habit of reading. If you are already an avid reader, you are probably aware of the many positive benefits of reading. In fact, reading is one of the best ways to help us relax, according to a research study out of the United Kingdom. Reading is a healthy distraction and helps us feel calmer as we focus on the words in front of us and escape our mental chatter and worries. We may even become so engaged in a book to the point of reaching a calm, meditative state. When we are part of a book club, we have an extra push to read and finish the book so we can participate in the fun and stimulating discussion with the group.

How to Find a Parenting Book Club

Now that you know all the benefits of participating in a parenting book club, you are probably wondering how to get started. If you are looking to join an existing book club in your area, then you can look for one at the following: local libraries, bookstores, your school’s PTA, houses of worship, community centers like YMCA and JCC and other community groups like children’s museums or non-profits focused on parenting and children’s issues. You can also try to find local groups using online tools like Facebook, Meetup and Nextdoor.

If you are having trouble finding an in-person parenting book club or prefer an online option, you can also search for virtual groups. Facebook is a good place to start, as is just googling “parenting book clubs.” You can also check out and Some parenting bloggers and authors organize book clubs. Dr. Nerissa Bauer of Let’s Talk Kids Health offers a Read & Grow Parenting Book Club in which participants read popular parenting books and interact with other readers in her exclusive Facebook parenting discussion group. You might also be able to find parenting book clubs in a specific niche. For example, on Facebook, there is an Outdoor Parent Book Club/Discussion in which members read nature-related parenting books.

How to Start Your Own

Not having any luck finding a parenting book club that works for you? Then start your own. You can grab a few friends and get reading or build up a community from scratch by announcing your group to some of the places mentioned above. You can also include information in your neighborhood newsletter if you have one or reach out to local businesses or organizations to see if you can put up a flyer or add information about book club meetings on their website or in their newsletter. Writing groups can also be a good resource. The Women’s National Book Association supports book clubs and sponsors literary events around the country.

Before you launch your book club, you will want to consider how many members you want and if you will set any limits on attendees, when you will meet, where you will meet, who will choose the books, who will lead the book discussions and who will bring food and refreshments. You might also want to pick out a specific theme for the books you choose, such as teen-only or nature parenting books. Some other helpful ideas to enhance your book club are to download a book discussion guide from the author. For a free book club discussion guide for the nature parenting book, Finding Ecohappiness: Fun Nature Activities to Help Your Kids Feel Happier and Calmer, visit Finally, you can even invite authors to join in the conversation, either in person, if possible, or virtually. That is sure to be a hit!

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Fun Ways to Celebrate Your Teacher During Teacher Appreciation Week

When was the last time you thanked a teacher? So often, we go about life grateful for their hard work but never really stop to thank them for the difference they make in our lives. From teaching kids to read and navigate numbers to how to work in a group and practice good manners, teachers dedicate their lives to helping you raise your children.

Teachers educate, comfort, listen and even protect kids every day. While every day is a good opportunity to say thank you, Teacher Appreciation Week offers a focused time to shower teachers with gratitude.

If you work with other parents from the class or the school, you can do something really special. Here are some fun and meaningful ways to celebrate the teachers in your child’s life.

Lend a Hand

Teachers are masters of multitasking. With so much on their plate, you can show appreciation by lending a hand. Offer to do things like make copies or organize the classroom library. Come in one afternoon and redecorate their seasonal bulletin board or organize and refresh their supplies. Practical help goes a long way toward making a teacher feel appreciated.

Set Up a Snack Table

Break periods and lunchtime often get filled with meetings, helping students or other work. Teachers can easily have a nourishing and tasty snack by creating a grab-and-go snack table. Ask parents to donate packaged snacks and drinks that teachers can take on the run. Great ideas are Kind bars, fancy seltzers, candy and smoothies.

Get Gifts They Actually Want

Teachers don’t need more generic mugs. Instead, send out a survey asking each teacher about their favorite things. Great ideas include favorite candy, colors, restaurants, coffee orders and authors. Use this information to get teachers things you know they will love.

Make Them Summer Ready

Many teachers look forward to summer break as much as the kids do. Help them get summer ready with a few things to encourage relaxation and fun in the summer sun. A beach bag or tote with a towel, book or magazines, sunscreen and snacks will make pool ready.

Give Them Dinner to Go

Teachers spend all day caring for and teaching kids, and many of them are tired at the end of the day. Give them a break by making dinners they can take home when they leave. Parents and local restaurants can donate meals that teachers can grab at the end of the day. Great ideas include pasta and salad, soup and bread, meatballs and hard rolls, burritos and tortilla chips. And don’t forget dessert!

Create Daily Themes

To celebrate for the whole week, give each day a different theme with something fun for the teachers to do, receive or eat. Some creative and fun ideas are:

  • Popcorn Day: Set up a popcorn table in the teacher’s room so they can grab some popcorn and a soda for a fun snack.
  • Book/Magazine Day: Bring around a cart with books and magazines for each teacher to choose from. See if a local bookstore will donate books and magazines or ask families to donate.
  • Fancy Coffee Day: Perfect for morning or a midday pick-me-up, set up a table where teachers can get fun coffee creations that are sure to beat the coffee in the teacher’s lounge.
  • New Supplies Day: Collect classroom supplies, teaching supplies, stationery, tissues and other things teachers use in the classroom. Invite teachers to come to pick a few things to refresh their classroom.
  • Relaxation Day: Turn the teacher’s lounge into a relaxing oasis with calm music, cucumber water and spa kits with lotion and face masks to take home. Get a massage therapist to give mini-massages for a special treat.
  • Flower Day: Bring each teacher fresh-cut flowers or small potted plants. It’s fun to bring this during class so kids can see how nice it is to celebrate their teacher.
  • Ice Cream Day: Set up a sundae-making station with all the fixings and make sure each teacher gets coverage to come to enjoy a sweet treat.

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10 Big Benefits of Gardening with Kids

Most parents want their children to get outside, away from phones, TV and video games, and gardening is a great way to achieve this goal. However, recent research shows that there are several other reasons to start a garden with kids. The benefits range from making kids smarter to making them healthier. Here are 10 great reasons to get kids gardening:

1.  Students who garden score higher on science tests.

Gardening is full of science. Children learn about plant classification, weather, soil and plant pests and disease. They are introduced to botany in a natural, hands-on way, and recent research shows that students who had gardening experiences as part of their school curriculum did better on standardized science tests than students who were not exposed to gardening in school.

2.  If they grow it, they will eat it.

As a teacher, I’ve taught STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and have served as a Junior Master Garden club leader. In these roles, I witnessed the “if they grow it, they will eat it” phenomenon. Students love to dig up what they have grown, and then curiosity gets the better of them – they want to taste it.

Master Gardener Beth Tovi volunteered to mentor students in the garden for eight years at the elementary school where she served as a media specialist. She sees the nutritional and health benefits children gain from gardening.

“With the growing concerns about obesity, diabetes and even high blood pressure in children, gardening gets them physically active and outdoors. And children will eat anything they grow – even if it’s green.”

3.  Digging in the dirt can make kids healthier.

Several studies show that children who were raised on farms don’t have as many respiratory allergies, asthma or autoimmune disorders as children who were raised in urban areas because children who live on farms are exposed to more microbes and fungi in the dirt. Letting children get outside and get in the dirt may actually make them healthier than keeping them tidy, clean and inside.

4.  Gardening strengthens emotional and interpersonal skills.

Children who garden learn responsibility, patience, perseverance and how to deal with disappointment if the garden doesn’t grow the way they expected. How do they collaborate with other siblings, friends or schoolmates to get the garden work done? These are character-building skills that research shows children reap in the garden.

I witnessed this one year at a school garden when we had a drought. Watering the plants and trying to keep them healthy was an arduous task, and the students and I learned about perseverance and teamwork.

5.  Gardening connects children with nature.

When children garden, they gain ownership of what they are cultivating. I have seen my own children grow “attached” to the plants in the containers on our patio garden. As children become more knowledgeable about all the living things in the garden, they are less likely to be afraid of touching the plants, getting soil on their hands or being near bugs. They are no longer afraid of the unknown when they become familiar with what is in the garden.

6.  Gardening helps relieve stress for the whole family.

A garden can be therapeutic. Not that your fourth grader is battling traffic, raising children and feeling the demands of a pressure-ridden job, but even kids can feel stress, and the garden is good for eliminating it. In fact, a study in the Netherlands showed that after 30 minutes of gardening, subjects who had shown stress before they gardened had a “fully restored” positive mood. And if the adults in the family are feeling stressed, and they garden with their children, it can help the whole family feel more harmonious.

7.  Gardening teaches kids to problem-solve.

“When they garden, children learn problem-solving skills,” Tovi says. “They say, ‘This trellis doesn’t work very well. How can we make one that will better support this kind of plant?’”

In a garden, children ask questions like “What is eating this plant?” or “Is this tree dying?”

Once children become absorbed in solving the problems in a garden, they want to research to find the best answers.

“They become sleuths, starting in the garden and heading into the computers,” Tovi says.

No Yard? No Problem!

When your backyard is a concrete patio or an apartment balcony, it’s hard to imagine growing a bountiful garden. But it can be done in containers. Choose some eco-friendly containers with drainage holes in the bottom, fill them with a potting mix and then choose seeds or seedlings to plant. Another option is to grow an herb garden inside on a sunny window ledge.

A great resource for starting a container garden is “The Vegetable Gardener’s Container Bible: How to Grow a Bounty of Food in Pots, Tubs, and Other Containers” by Edward C. Smith.

This book teaches even beginning gardeners how to grow organic food in small spaces. The book covers container and tool selection, caring for plants and controlling pests without chemicals.

With a little research and tender care, you can grow flowers and vegetables that flourish.

8.  Gardening is a good workout.

Gardening is good physical labor involving muscles that don’t always get a workout. Even the most seasoned gym-goer may admit to being sore the day after working in a garden. Gardening involves stretching, bending, digging, lifting, pulling and raking. Gross and fine motor skills are used, and even the youngest gardener with simple tasks gets physical activity.

9.  Gardening helps children become environmental stewards.

When children start reaping the food and flowers that come from a garden, they realize a garden’s impact on them and their impact on the garden. Once they have this tangible experience, it is much easier to teach them to care for the environment.

10.  Gardening can lead to a longer life.

Studies show that adults who garden in their later years live longer. Instead of living a sedentary life, gardeners get off the couch and are active in nature. Teaching children good habits when they are young will make them more likely to follow them through life.

Sow the seeds of a garden with your child today, and see them reap the benefits for a lifetime.

Creative Theme Gardens to Grow with Kids

These interesting themes are a great way to inspire children to garden.

Pizza Garden
Grow all the herbs to add to a pizza. For an extra touch, make the garden round like a pizza.

Fairy Garden
This garden includes both plants and miniature structures and is a great place for your child’s imagination to grow.

Pollinator Garden
Build a garden that attracts butterflies, bees, birds, bats and other insects and animals that will help pollinate plants. Try planting milkweed, zinnias and snapdragons.

Herb Garden
Herb gardens are a great way to foray into the world of gardening. They can be grown inside or outside and include plants such as basil, oregano, sage, thyme, parsley and many more.

Art Garden
Students can grow flowers and plants that can be used to make art or grow a garden of plants for kids to sketch.

Maze Garden
Create a maze with hedges, grasses or corn. In the middle of the maze, put something interesting like a sculpture, fountain or another special garden bed.

Peter Rabbit Garden
Grow the vegetables found in Mr. McGregor’s garden. The great thing about this garden is that you can grow some of the vegetables – carrots, lettuce, radishes and cabbage – in cool weather, so you could continue to garden into fall.

Salsa Garden
Grow tomatoes, peppers and onions to make a delicious salsa.

Wildflower Garden
Visit a nature preserve to discover the native wildflower plants in your area. Then build a garden with those flowers.

Three Sisters’ Garden
Teach children about plants that grow well together, like corn, beans and squash, by cultivating the three in one mound.

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13 Play Dates Just for Moms

Although we’re rarely alone, motherhood can sometimes feel a little lonely. Spending time with a few understanding friends to vent, laugh and reenergize in a kid-free zone is healthy and a great way to shake off the blues.

“We tend to be able to schedule nap time for toddlers, bath time for babies to help them relax and even make it easy for our partners to hit the basketball court with buddies. But when it comes to us, we forget that we need the same recharging,” says Maria Bailey, host of Mom Talk Radio, author, talk show host and founder of National Mom’s Nite Out.

Whether you have a gaggle of friends or just a few you’d like to know better, here are 13 ideas to fire up some fun.

Tap your inner Matisse. Studies suggest that artistic engagement can reduce stress and anxiety. Many art studios offer instructor-led, one-time classes created specifically for ladies’ nights out. Feel a pleasant drop in your blood pressure while painting and sipping wine in the company of friends. No clean-up required!

Puzzle it out. If your group loves mystery games, plan a gathering at a mystery “escape room.” In this latest entertainment trend, two or more people are locked in a room and must find and follow clues to find a way to break out of it within a set amount of time.

Pamper and primp. Schedule manicures and pedicures for you and your friends. Or check out a blowout bar, where you and your friends can sip refreshments while each getting a signature blow dry and style or makeup touch-up. Depending on the size of your group, some spas will book an event just for your party.

Swirl, sniff and sip. Head to an area winery for a relaxing wine tasting or host your own. Choose a group of wines from a specific region, ranging from dry to sweet and hide the names behind a large bow or decorative material. Place a placard with a number in front of each bottle. Give each guest a glass with her own wine charm. Provide scoring sheets for each wine they taste. Serve light appetizers, including cheese and crackers, chocolates and palette-cleansing fruits.

Coordinate a book swap. Invite your friends to bring gently used books, cookbooks and magazines they no longer want. Guests can choose as many books to take as they bring to give away. Stephanie Perry,, suggests providing post-it notes so your friends can share their thoughts about a particular book. “As they peruse, guests can write in their own responses, and some interesting ‘conversations’ can result,” Perry says.

Get pinning. Host a party in which your guests bring snacks and beverages that they find on Pinterest. When Jen Conrad, a mom of three, hosted a Pinterest Party, she and her friends made a scented sugar scrub together that they found on the site. “Everything we ate, drank and did was a Pinterest idea,” she says.

Host a “My Favorite Things” party. What’s one kitchen gadget, makeup or cleaning product that you can’t live without? Hide your item in a gift bag and exchange with friends. Once everyone has opened her bag, each participant explains why she loves the product she brought to give away. “We all took notes so we could run out and try the fun stuff,” says Amber Shepard, a mom of two. Provide each guest with a complimentary notepad and pen to keep track of ideas or clever tips.

Stock the freezer. As if the school year isn’t hectic enough, the holidays are right around the corner. Make mealtime easier by planning ahead with a frozen meal exchange. Each friend should arrive with enough four-person servings for the number of attendees. If five of you participate, each should arrive with five meals. For a simpler exchange, agree on a budget in advance and choose guests who have similar dietary requirements. Casseroles, lasagnas, marinated meats and soups/stews work well.

Plan a cover dish party. “I love this idea because it allows you to have meaningful conversations with other moms and deepen those relationships,” Bailey says. Keep the event simple for your friends by requesting that each dish include five ingredients or fewer.

Explore local cuisine. Gather your foodie friends around the table and sample area eateries while enjoying great conversation. Take turns choosing one restaurant per month. To build continuity, make the event a standing occasion on the same night each month.

Catch the latest flicks. Head to the theater to watch a movie with your friends. After the film, review together over dinner or dessert. Budget tight? Take turns hosting movie-watching parties at your homes.

Form a culture club. Experience the fine arts with other friends who share a similar zest for integrating more local culture into their lives. Attend different events every four to six weeks, like jazz concerts, live theater, the symphony or the museum’s latest art exhibit.

Be spontaneous. Light the fire pit or gather around your fireplace and invite a few friends over for a last-minute glass of wine, cocktails or mocktails. By simply creating time for you and your friends to chat, you’ll deepen your friendships and nurture your spirit, too.

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