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Top 10 Gift Ideas NOT to get Mum this Mother’s Day

International Women’s Day and Mother’s Day meet this weekend, and it got me thinking about the Mother’s Day gift aisle in the supermarket, and what the gifts on display truly represent.

Do they represent a strong career woman, a role model we want to portray to our children, or do they fit into the stereotypical idea of a mum chained to the kitchen sink, cooking and cleaning?

I would love to hear what you see in the aisles.

In 2024, society is working hard towards closing the gender pay and career gap. We are fighting for better paternity pay and shared parental leave so dads can also play a part in the family unit raising the child and getting stuck into the housework. It is no longer deemed to be ‘the women’s job’ to keep house.

We want to see more women in the boardroom and heading up top businesses.

Women are striving to have the career they want and have a family, and due to poor family friendly policies and limited flexible working, many are turning to self-employment, and running their own business around their children.

Women are standing up and showing they are made of strong stuff, and the kitchen might be the last place they want to be. I know it is my least favourite place to be unless I’m eating.

So why do we have so many Mother’s Day gifts that are aimed at the housewife who might like to put her feet up for a little bit and have a brew in their new pink Mother’s Day mug with a scented candle they daren’t light around the children.

Books aimed at pre-schoolers portraying Mum to be the worker, the housewife, the fixer, and all-round dogs’ body while Dad gets to float through life without a care in the world getting praised for half-baked attempts at being a grown up.

With this in mind, I thought I would ask some of the amazing change makers and male allies of women what they think is a turn off in the gifting department and why.


“This Mother’s Day, please don’t gift anything that adds to their mental load. This includes gift vouchers with very short expiry dates, or, the very worst, what I call a partial gift. This would look like an event, day trip or experience where the mum has to do the bulk of organising including sorting out childcare! “

Clara Wilcox: Career and Return to Work Coach: The Balance Collective


“The obvious cooking utensils, parenting books and cookbooks. They reinforce where caregiving and food prep belong. Weight loss products, anti-aging cream, can all imply a mother needs to change her body to fit western beauty standards and link to values tied to appearance. One interesting thing is gendered items, like “World’s Best Mum” mugs and t-shirts. Seems great on the surface but it reinforces where values lie and creates a primary identity, only limiting achievement to motherhood.”

 Lee Chambers – Gender Equity Changemaker

I have to agree with Lee when it comes to cookbooks and especially parenting books. Could you imagine giving a Dad a parenting book? His instant reaction would be that you are putting him down and he isn’t good enough. If you are struggling with parenting as a family, the best gift would be professional advice which is aimed at the two of you, so you are on the same page.

“For me, it’s random lotions and flowers. I much prefer a homemade card (or a funny one) and my favourite chocolate bar. Or a tool, I love a bit of DIY. Who thought a tea towel is a good Mother’s Day gift? Surely not?”

Clare Willetts – Founder of Not Only Pink and Blue

I am 100% with Clare on the tea towels, and all in pink as well?

“I think even the dullest gift can be brilliant if the context is right. The key is to not go for a generic “oh look it’s Mother’s Day and this is an appropriate gift” approach. I would love it if my kids took an active role and even wrote down one thing they appreciate about me as a person, not just what I do for them. So, I guess my “awful” is anything that just feels a bit superficial and going through the motions. Although I will always be grateful for chocolate

Lynn White – Founder of Talent on Leave Ltd


“A pair of oven gloves, an apron, tea towels, a toaster, anything that isn’t a massage voucher, chocolates, pj’s, or a Squishmallow. Flowers as well. They sit in the kitchen where I don’t see them and then I am sad when they die.”

Maddy Alexander-Grout – Founder of Mad About Money



“I think it all comes down to communication. I had an email today from Apple which said ‘mum approved gifts she will love ‘. Now, some people would maybe love a gift like that but if my husband bought me a new iPhone or iPad, call me ungrateful but I would be annoyed, as I don’t need or want them, we don’t have money to waste on them and I’d rather the money be spent on a family holiday. So, it’s important to communicate your wants as well as partners to ask and listen. I remember my husband booking for us to go out for lunch as a surprise on Mother’s Day when I was pregnant with my second, a really nice idea and again many would love it, but I was struggling with morning sickness and couldn’t eat and my fussy 3-year-old didn’t like anything on the menu. I’ve learnt to communicate my wants as much as he has learnt to listen. I’ve educated him as to what my favourite flowers and beauty products are for if they ever want to buy me gifts. I’ve also made clear that on Sunday my expectation is that he and the kids plan and cook and clean up after dinner for me and our Mums. My best advice is communicate, and no surprises!”

Emily Ellis – Founder of WorkBabyLife

I would steer clear of gimmicky gifts for Mother’s Day, it’s far better to make something homemade, that will have a special meaning than buy something generic that isn’t to their taste just because it’s for Mothers Day written on it.

Lucy Wilson – Maternal health champion, Founder Shine Strong Revolution

So, here’s my top 10 worst Mother’s Day gift ideas.

(Please note, if a woman has a passion for cooking, a cookbook might be the perfect gift, what is for one might not be for another, this is aimed at generic gifting).

1 Stereotypical mum books such as Peppa Pig – We Love you Mummy Pig (sadly only published in 2018)

2 Mother’s Day Tea Towel

3 An Apron

4 Oven Gloves

5 Cleaning Products

6 Random lotions that are not part of her normal skin care routine

7 Weight loss products

8 Cookbook

9 Parenting Books

10 Flowers (unless someone else maintains and discards of them when they die)

You may wonder why a Peppa Pig book made the number 1 spot, and this is because when I sat reading it to my 3-year-old, it made it acceptable for daddy to be useless and for mum to do everything without moaning, and to graciously accept a half-eaten chocolate bar as her gift. MUMMY, WE NEED YOU! was the theme of the story on a day the family were supposed to be looking after her. I have never read a book that made me so angry in the way it teaches pre-schoolers what is acceptable in today’s society, when in reality, it couldn’t be further from the truth. The children of today are what will be our hopefully equal adults of the future, so let’s start them on the right path.

So, let’s finish on a more positive note with some good ideas that came up frequently.

Chocolates were a winner for most, just make sure she isn’t trying to cut back on her chocolates before adding temptation.

Homemade gifts and cards, (not just the ones made in school), show you care and spend time creating something personal and memorable with the children.

Gift vouchers for the brand of lotions she uses so she can get what she wants and needs. We are in a recession and you may find that mums are putting off buying their usual brands as we aren’t very good at making it on to the self-care list, so by giving her the chance to buy what she really wants, you are showing you understand her needs and appreciate her.

If she is someone who really doesn’t like cleaning or has little time and you aren’t able to overhaul the house yourself, maybe hire a cleaner or declutterer to come in and do the work to help lessen the load and improve her mindset.

We all want some time to ourselves, but not waiting until the kids are finally in bed might be nice, so book that massage or afternoon tea, and give her some space to just be her for an hour or so rather than being in permanent mum mode.

This is not an article to show mums as ungrateful, but that showing a little thought can go a long way. Mums tend to put their needs at the bottom of the pile, so may not feel comfortable talking about the sorts of things they would really like for Mother’s Day through fear of being seen as entitled. Let her know you care by giving her something she really wants or that will mean a lot sentimentally.

While we are talking about men and women being treated equally, a huge part in this is making sure that employers have family friendly policies in place to support families as a whole. Will you spend a few minutes completing this short survey to help us change the future for families in the workplace. You can have your say here.


Founder of Baby2Sleep, Family Sleep Specialist, Corporate Speaker and Mum of 2