Negotiating the Best Mother’s Day

As a kid, I remember my dad always taking my sister and I out of the apartment for a half day on Mother’s Day. I remember the guilt as I looked over my shoulder at mom, alone in the door jamb. ‘But, it’s Mother’s Day’, I thought. ‘Why are we leaving? Shouldn’t we be spending the day with Momma?’  As an adult, I laugh at that naïve version of myself. I now recognize that taking us away to give my mom some alone time was the gift.

Yet time changes everything. That life-saving break to catch their breath when the kids are young can often become a yearning for quality time as our mothers (or other maternal figures) age. A recent study suggests that 75% of the time one spends with their parents is spent before 12 years old.

What are your plans for your mother (or mother surrogate) this weekend? How much thought have you put into it?

As many of you know, I lost my mother only a couple months ago. While I spent significant time with her these last two years, she had already lost pieces of herself, so it wasn’t the same. While I hope she got some benefit out of our time together, sometimes I wonder if those visits weren’t more for me than her.  And I confess I had not dedicated a lot of quality time to my mother in the years before her decline.

So, I invite you to make this Mother’s Day as special as you can. Rather than grabbing a roadside bouquet of flowers from a bucket, or making do with a simple phone call, what if you put some thought into how you can create a better experience.

Here are a few quick tips to help you negotiate a better Mother’s Day this year:

I Don’t Make it About You – Make it About Her

Surrendering ego is key to best negotiated outcomes in all areas of life. Planning special days is no exception. We often do for others what we’d like for ourselves. Make sure that your gift or experience choice is targeted to the needs and desires of the receiver. Don’t make it about you. Make it about her.

II Be Intentional

We’re often guilty of falling into default mode in life. In any negotiation, including negotiating a special occasion, it’s important to be intentional. Contemplate all elements of the experience you seek to build. Bring thoughtful intention to each element.

III Invoke the 5W’s

One of my simple negotiation models is the 5W model. It applies equally to preparing for the perfect day. Invoke the power of who, what, where, when & why in your planning.

  • Decide who you want to be on your day of celebration.
  • What would she want AND what do you want her to feel?
  • Where is the best place to enhance your time together?
  • When is best time to make it happen?
  • Why does she matter to you?


Simply considering these elements, with intention, will enhance the experience you create.

IV Create an Experience

While gifts can be easy and appreciated, try creating an experience instead this year. Spend quality time. Create a memory. There are an infinite number of activities you could arrange to do with your mother or maternal substitute.


The origins of Mother’s Day arguably dates back to 1870, when feminist poet, Julia Ward Howe, published the Mother’s Day Proclamation, fighting to establish a Mother’s Peace Day. Her cry was picked up by Anna Jarvis who sought to introduce a recognized Mother’s Day in honour of her mother, who had dedicated her life to helping struggling mothers in her communities.

Today’s commercialized versions of Mother’s Day bear little resemblance to these noble originating motives, but you can make a choice to honour your special maternal role-model in a more meaningful way … for you and for her.

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Are you looking to up-level your negotiation skills?

Please enjoy my TedX Ocala talk. 

- Rise of the Feminine Voice


Mother's Day, negotiate

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