Mother’s Day is coming up, and it’s the perfect opportunity to thank your mom for everything she’s done for you.  

If you’re looking for inspirational tips for expressing your gratitude to your mother (or any mother figure), you’ve come to the right place. We’ve spoken with well-known marriage counselor Dr. Gary Chapman, who has authored many books, including The 5 Love Languages,” and Katy Mann, founder of Indy with Kids and mom to several kids, to help you prepare for this special holiday. 

Find out what Mom likes

First, you need to figure out what your mom would appreciate for Mother’s Day. “Of the five love languages, one will speak more deeply to your mom,” Chapman says. If you’re not familiar with the five love languages, they are ways that people prefer to be loved. For example, some people like gifts whereas others prefer to spend time with family and friends. 

For moms who appreciate quality time, you might want to participate in an activity you know she’d enjoy. If she likes gifts, you can ask your father or your mother’s best friend what she might enjoy as a gift. If you don’t have much money, even picking a flower can mean a lot. 

Dr. Gary Chapman, author of "The 5 Languages of Love"

Of the five love languages, one will speak more deeply to your mom.

Dr. Gary Chapman

Author, The 5 Love Languages

If your mom enjoys words of affirmation, tell your mother, “Mom, I want to take this day to tell you that I love you and appreciate all that you do.” Remember to focus on specifics. It’s great to tell your mom that she is an amazing mom, but focus on something that you specifically appreciate: her honesty, her dedication as a mom, or her cooking. 

If your mother’s love language is acts of service, try asking her what she’d like you do for her. My husband, Cole Lane, who is an IT specialist, starts preparing a week or two in advance of Mother’s Day thinking about a special meal he can make to celebrate the occasion. Mann says, “My kids love getting up early and making me a special breakfast. Afterward, everyone scrambles around and cleans up their rooms and gets their spaces tidy, because it’s exactly what I would want them to do.” 

Finally, if your mom loves physical touch, give her a hug or a pat on the back. “There’s just something about a hug,” Chapman says. But be sure to figure out what your mother would like! Some moms might prefer something different than a hug.  

Boy and girl bringing mom breakfast in bed

If you live far away, don’t forget flower delivery. That’s what Mann and her sister do. “Then we call and have a video chat so she can show us the flowers and we can tell her how much we appreciate and love her,” she says. 

Regardless of whether you know your mom’s love language or not, try to sprinkle as many of these as you can fit into the day. Chapman says, “Speak as many of the five love languages as you can, especially if you don’t know what your mom’s love language is. Then you’ll be sure to make her feel special on Mother’s Day.” 

Honor all the mothers in your life 

Depending on your situation, you may have more than one mom to honor on Mother’s Day. For example, my husband was raised by his grandmother but still keeps in contact with his mother.  

He makes it a priority to send messages to his grandmother, his mother, and another close mother figure on Mother’s Day, and mentions all his mother figures in a post on Facebook. He says, “I always like to find new pictures of me with the moms in my life every year so that they can reminisce.” 

"I love you, Mom" sign

If you’re married or have a child with your partner, Chapman says, “It’s always appropriate to thank your wife for being the mother of your children.” If you are expecting, he even suggests writing a Mother’s Day card from the baby in the womb. 

Mann agrees, saying, “I want my husband to tell me what a great mom I am and how I’m the best partner he could ever imagine raising children with.” 

Cole also adds, “If you are in a committed relationship, remember to celebrate your mother-in-law as well since she had a direct impact on your significant other.” 

Reach out even when it’s hard 

Even if you don’t have a great relationship with your mom, it’s still worthwhile to reach out. “Love stimulates love,” Chapman says. “Think about something you do appreciate and thank your mom for that. If you can’t think of anything else, thank her for giving your birth.”  

Chapman believes that it’s important to take the opportunity to thank your mom now when you can. “The day is going to come when you may regret if you haven’t thanked her,” he says. 

Child holding pink gift box

Above all, make the most of this holiday that’s been around since President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first Mother’s Day on May 9, 1914. “It’s not just tradition; it’s a good tradition,” Chapman says. “Take advantage of days like Mother’s Day and make the most of them.” 

No matter what your relationship with your mom looks like, it’s good to express your appreciation for your mom or another mother figure on Mother’s Day because it’s important to reach out to those who have impacted us deeply. “Every mom (and every individual in general) needs to feel loved,” Chapman says. 

A graphic reminding visitors to shop for moms for Mother's Day.

Rachel Lane is a writer and editor who has worked with over 100 clients, including, the American Historical Association, the Theodore Roosevelt Center, and iGrad, a personal finance organization. She specializes in writing content about physical fitness, personal finance, career, and education, and history.

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