‘Ask Jan’ – How to celebrate Mother’s Day in an inclusive way?

“How can we celebrate Mothering Sunday in an inclusive way? I have some residents who never had children of their own, and obviously their own mothers are no longer with us. I don’t want them to feel left out, but do want to celebrate the special day in our home.”

Simona, Activities Manager

Dear Simona,

Mothering Sunday is a tradition dating back many years. Children and grandchildren see it as a special day to thank their mums and grandmothers for all that they do, so it’s an important day for us to acknowledge.

I understand that some residents won’t have had children of their own and may feel very left out when visitors arrive with flowers or take other residents out for a special afternoon tea.

Of course, all residents will have had a mum. Yet this is something we rarely talk about in detail during life history work. So I suggest that you take this opportunity to talk to individual residents about their own mother. Remember to ask the male residents as well. Start by asking them to describe her. What colour was her hair? What was her name? Did she dress up and wear a hat to church? Did she spit on a hankie and wipe dirty marks off their face? They may remember her favourite food, the perfume she wore, or where she used to do her grocery shopping. Make sure to check whether the resident has any photos of their mother – this will help you to visualise her and bring the conversation alive. Take it steady – some residents may prefer not to remember as they carry painful memories. Only proceed if you feel the resident is content.

You could hold a group discussion, remembering the things that mothers used to say, such as, “If you eat up your crusts, your hair will be curly,” or “carrots will help you to see in the dark!”

In the run up to Mothering Sunday, reach out to your local church, scout group or school. Ask if they would like to make some small gifts to hand out to residents on the day – they could be small posies of flowers, handmade cards or even simple friendship bracelets that can be tied onto walking sticks or frames. Providing a token gift to each and every resident in the home – men as well – will make it clear that this is a day to celebrate together.

Best wishes,


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