2021 Mother's Day Spending Is Way Up—But Moms Just Want This One, Free Gift

Stress levels for moms with preschoolers skyrocketed during the pandemic

Spending on Mother's Day could be at an all-time high this year... and with very good reason.

With all due respect to all the dads out there... it's been a really, really (one more time so they can hear me in the back row) ... really hellish 12 months to be a mom. As the pandemic forced schools to shutter across the country and introduced us all to the unwelcome concept of remote homeschooling, mothers have largely borne the brunt of juggling school via computer and being the homework taskmaster while still managing a steady stream of Zoom meetings with the boss and co-workers.

With that in mind, it's no surprise we're collectively set to go the extra mile to show our gratitude. A survey by the National Retail Federation indicates as much as $28.1 billion could be spent this year on Mother's Day, an increase of $1.4 billion compared to 2020. How does that break down per household? This year consumers plan to spend an average of $220.48 on Mother’s Day items. That's $16 more than they planned to spend last year and the highest in the survey's history.

A new study found stress levels for moms with preschoolers skyrocketed during the pandemic, with twice as many of the mothers reporting they lost significant sleep during the COVID-19 outbreak compared to pre-pandemic.

"Moms of young children are already less likely to get the recommended amount of sleep and physical activity than women who don't have children. These shortfalls could raise the risk for obesity and poor health, and the lockdown worsened the situation by increasing the levels of stress and household chaos," said Chelsea Kracht, Ph.D., of the Pediatric Obesity and Health Behavior Laboratory at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, about the study's finding.

Work and young children collided for many mothers the past year.

Mothers who were working remotely reported more "household chaos" than those who were not teleworking during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study also found mothers of young children under the age of 12 were more likely to work remotely compared to fathers and mothers of older children.

Those findings don't come as a surprise to Dr. Tanisha Ranger, a licensed psychologist practicing in Nevada. She said the past year has exposed the unreasonable expectations placed on working mothers.

"This pandemic situation just made it much, much more intense because one of the things that the research continually shows is that even in an egalitarian household where a mother and a father both go out to work and both come home, most of the domestic work is still expected to be done by the mother. And we saw that play out when it came to homeschooling," said Ranger.

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She added, "There's such an expectation of the women, and a lot of the times by the women, because they deal with feelings of shame and guilt and inadequacy when they can't do all of it, even though we're asking superhuman tasks of them. So it's frankly been a crisis year for mothers."

"There is a lot of consumer optimism around Mother's Day this year as more people are getting vaccinated and stimulus checks are being distributed," NFT President Matthew Shay said of the expected uptick in spending. "For many, this is a chance to make up for last year's Mother's Day when we were under lockdown. With safety guidelines at top of mind, consumers are planning to be with family, are making travel plans and organizing a special brunch or outing. All of these activities will be reflected through their purchasing decisions."

But beyond the greeting cards, flowers and dinners, Ranger says there's one significant act above all others most mothers will appreciate on Mother's Day.

"Remove all responsibilities. Most households have a routine. If you know there are always certain tasks she does on Sunday, arrange so that somebody else is doing those things, even if you had to hire someone," says Ranger. "Because just having an opportunity to not be stressed out is going to be really helpful. And I know she's still going to be stressed out because of the load that mothers and wives carry. Even if they're not doing everything, they have to keep everything in their mind to direct the symphony of your lives. But if you can remove some of those responsibilities, just for a day, that's a start."