Forget flowers and spa treatments. The stuff moms really want can’t be bought.
“What they really want is to be less stressed,” said Bruce Feiler, a family expert and author of best seller “The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Rethink Family Dinner, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More.”
Feiler knows the perfect gifts that promise to give mom the ultimate stress relief — relief that lasts a lot longer than just a day.
Here are four ways to make mom happier:
1) Tackle the hardest part of the day – de-stress mom’s morning
“You stop any mom on the street and ask them what’s the worst time of the day, they’re going to say the morning,” Feiler said.
Researchers have found that the highest stress times in families occur in moments of transition. The hour after everybody wakes up in the morning and the hour after everyone comes home in the evening are particularly vulnerable, according to Feiler.
Feiler recommends these additional tips:
- Create a morning checklist where kids are responsible for checking off their own obligations.
- Choose alternate weeks where different members of the family play “morning captain.”
- Assign days of the week where children either prepare breakfast or serve as sous chef for a parent.
- Besides reducing parental yelling, you’ll help your kids. Children who plan their own schedules and evaluate their own work build up their brains and learn to take more responsibility.
Feiler suggested transferring responsibilities to the kids, that way mom doesn’t have to nag them to keep on schedule.
“You can assign a child certain days of the week where they are the captains of the morning, so it is their job to actually monitor everybody else to make sure they get the things done,” he said.
2) Reduce sibling fights
Studies have shown siblings between the ages of 3 and 7 clash three and a half times per hour.
Feiler addressed this problem in his house with the help of a course from the team at the Harvard Negotiation Project.
Feiler implemented the following actions:
- When problems erupt, we separate them to allow them to cool off.
- Then we ask each party for three alternatives.
- Usually, they insist theirs is the only option, but eventually, they relent. Then we bring them back together.
- At that point, with so many options on the table, a solution usually arises fairly easily.
3) Spice up mom’s date night
Instead of the usual dinner and a movie, steal an idea from Hollywood hit “500 Days of Summer” and try out karaoke night.
Feiler said if you want to improve your relationship, try something novel with your partner.
Here are some date night ideas:
- Helen Fisher of Rutgers has observed that couples who participate in activities that are unusual or different.
- Take an art class
- Drive to a new part of town
- Cook a new recipe and flood their system with the same chemicals as couples just falling in love.
4) Let her win every argument for a month
All families have conflict and those who control and manage that conflict can make their family happier.
“Tell your wife she can win every argument for a month, what that means is when you’re getting it when you’re disputing, whatever you’re disputing, you get to the point and you say this is your month to win,” Feiler said.
Here are some other tips:
- Alternate who gets to win arguments every week. That way, just when a fight threatens to overwhelm an evening, the pre-assigned winner claims the prize and harmony is restored.
- In honor of Mother’s Day, why not extend Mom’s week to a month. By then, Father’s Day will be just around the corner, and maybe she’ll return the favor.