A History of Celebrating Mom

While the celebration of motherhood and mothers can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, the American incarnation of the Mother’s Day holiday did not happen until the early 1900’s.  After the death of her own mom, Anna Jarvis came up with “Mother’s Day” as a way to honor the sacrifices that mothers made for their children. After gaining financial backing from John Wanamaker, a department store owner in Philadelphia, Jarvis organized the first official Mother’s Day celebration in 1908. Following its success, Jarvis petitioned to have the holiday added to the national calendar. She argued that American holidays were biased towards the achievements of men, and urged politicians to adopt a special day to honor motherhood.

Her hard work paid off, and in 1914 President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure that officially established the second Sunday of May as Mother’s Day. While Jarvis had originally conceived of Mother’s Day as a day of personal celebration between mothers and families, it quickly became highly commercialized. In an odd twist, this led Jarvis to denounce the holiday and spend the rest of her life lobbying to get the day removed from the national calendar.

mom with kids in the outdoors on a hike

Showing your Appreciation Without the Price Tag

While expensive gifts can be wonderful, heartfelt gifts that cost little to no money, which was the original intent of the holiday, can mean even more on Mother’s Day. It can show Mom that she means more to you than a few clicks of your mouse while shopping online or a quick trip into a store to pick out a gift. Handmade gifts and small acts of kindness are a great way to make Mom feel special. It can also show the kiddos that time and effort are priceless, and showing you care doesn’t have to come with a price tag.

Check out these ideas for Mother’s Day gifts that don’t involve buying  more than what you already have on hand at home:

1. An interview with questions for kids to fill out about their Mom. Check out our printable Hike it Baby Mother’s Day kiddo interview here!

2. A homemade Card from the kiddos that actually shows effort (meaning the younger littles may need a little assistance from an adult).  

“A homemade card that actually shows some effort – both from the kiddos but also requires my partner to sit with them and help”  – Kate, Kingston, Ontario Branch

3. Have a “What Mom Wants” Day where Mom gets to choose the activities, meals, etc.

4. A video of the kids talking about what they love about mom and wishing Mom (or Grandma) a Happy Mother’s Day.

5. Give Mom a break to do what she wants, whether that means a walk in the woods, time alone in her bedroom to read or relax, a virtual coffee date with a friend, etc.

6. Let Mom sleep in or have a “lazy morning” where she can relax, take a long shower or bath, etc. without being disturbed.

“To sleep in.  I haven’t done that in years!” – Paige, Cleveland, Ohio Branch

7. Have the kids write and perform a skit or song especially for Mom.

8. Bring Mom her favorite breakfast in bed (after letting her sleep in, of course!) or put together a backyard picnic for Mom to enjoy.

9. Relieve Mom of her “mom duties” for a day by picking up the emotional labor and making all of the decisions that come with having kiddos. This could mean choosing what the kids will eat throughout the day or what chores need to be accomplished by all family members.

“To not be in charge of Mom duties. Without having to nag or remind anyone to do them. Have my plate empty of responsibilities for a day or even a couple hours to do whatever I want” – Melissa, Kitsap Peninsula, Washington Branch

10. And last but not least, perform Acts of Kindness for Mom. This could include doing chores (ie. vacuuming or laundry), changing all baby diapers for a day, letting mom eat an entire meal while it’s warm without her having to get up for anything, etc.


Hike it Baby works to be the most effective hub of tools, information, and community inspiring all families with babies and young children to get outside and connect with nature. Learn more about Hike it Baby’s mission and how you can get involved.

Click here to download the printable Mother’s Day Interview.
Mother's Day Interview for kids printable pdf


Hike it Baby is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to getting families outdoors and on trails across the U.S. and internationally, supporting, educating, and inspiring families through their more than 300 communities across North America. Since its grassroots inception in 2013 in Portland, Oregon, Hike it Baby is now a growing community of 270,000 families and 500 volunteer branch ambassadors hosting more than 1,600 hikes per month. More information, as well as daily hike schedules, can be found at HikeitBaby.com, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Photo courtesy of Arika Bauer.

Editors Note:

We hope you enjoyed reading this article from Hike it Baby. We’re working hard to provide our community with content and resources that inform, inspire, and entertain you.

But content is not free. It’s built on the hard work and dedication of writers, editors, and volunteers. We do not make this ask lightly, but if you are able to afford it, make a donation, and become a Hike it Baby member.  A membership also makes a great gift for that new parent in your life. We make an investment in developing premium content to make it easier for families with young children to connect with nature and each other. If you can, please make a contribution and help us extend our reach.


More in

Benefits of Encouraging Risk: Beyond the Early Years

This is part three of a three-part series on risk and risky play. Part one of this series touches on […]

How To Support Appropriate Risk-taking in Public Play Spaces

This is part two of a three-part series on risk-taking and risky play. Part one of this series touches on […]