Time.

Every mom wishes she had more of it.

Surveys show that 40% of working moms say they “always feel rushed.” It’s not just working moms who struggle to keep up. Parents go out of their way to spend time with their kids, to take them for bike rides, to kiss their scrapes and bruises, to make sure they have healthy meals, consistent bedtime routines, clean clothes. I could make a list of tasks that parents do willingly – often lovingly – that could easily wallpaper my house.

But ask any mom what she wants for Mother’s Day, and your answer won’t be that $7 (!) greeting card. It won’t be a meal at a fancy restaurant in which her kids will intentionally spill apple juice on the waiter who is busy scraping their spaghetti off the wall. It won’t be flowers. It certainly won’t be a mop (this happened at my house once, and I was less than impressed). The answer to what every mom wants is deceptively simple: time.

We want to sleep through the night. We want to take an uninterrupted shower. We want to savor our meal rather than solving sibling disputes or cleaning up messes. We want to the time to go for a walk. We want to feel like we’re not always rushing from one thing to the next. We want to feel as though for just 10 minutes, there’s nothing more pressing than taking care of ourselves.

Moms, if you’re looking for a way to convince your spouse that you need more me-time, consider referring to the health toll that stress and sleep deprivation can take

Stop for a minute and remember that delicious feeling of your toddler cupping your face in her hands. Remember when she used to tell you that your skin was soft? How many times a week are you too rushed or tired to follow your skin cleansing and moisturizing routine?

Increased levels of cortisol caused by lack of sleep and stress damages the skin’s collagen, increasing lines and wrinkles. Cortisol can also dry out our skin. So, if you’re a dry, wrinkly mess, it’s time to do something about it!

Making our skin issues even worse, despite the fact that we know we should use sunscreen every day on ourselves, only 31% of women actually do. Compound this with research from Johns Hopkins University, which found that chronic stress can speed the spread of skin cancers, and women are in trouble.

Remember those lustrous flocks you sported during pregnancy? Now you throw it up in a ponytail, grab a hat and head out the door, right?

Stress affects the skin in a number of ways: it makes mom more susceptible to acne, eczema, hives, rosacea, psoriasis, and hair loss. If only the hair we lose as mothers could be the unwanted hair we don’t have time to shave with regularity. When my son was born, I too sported the daily ponytail. When he was about 6 months old, my hair was falling out in huge clumps. My physician suggested more sleep and a shorter haircut, because my timesaving ponytail was actually making my hair fall out faster. That was 6 years ago and I still keep my hair short. The hormones have settled down, but my sleep is still disrupted. And the unruly grays have started invading.

Give mom the gift of time

The perfect Mother’s Day gift lasts longer than a day at the spa. Try filling a basket with any of the following:

  • A salt scrub
  • A moisturizing facial
  • Lightly scented lotions (especially lavender) that can be applied before bed to help with restful sleep
  • A daily after-shower moisturizer with SPF (sunscreen products should be put on before any other products, so combining the lotion with SPF is a good way for busy moms to reap the benefits of both)
  • A gentle foaming facial cleanser
  • A daily facial lotion with SPF
  • A contract that you and the kids sign indicating that you will give mom at least 10 minutes each day to pamper herself, to take a walk around the block, to read a book, to meditate, to practice yoga, etc. And no cheating: showering without interruptions should be a given.
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