A little bit of history...
Mothering Sunday originally started in the Middle Ages on Laetare Sunday (also called Mid-Lent Sunday or Refreshment Sunday), a day of respite from fasting through Lent. A lot of the texts read during Mass in the Middle Ages referred to mothers and metaphors for motherhood, leading to the link to mothers.
During the 16th century people would visit their ‘mother church’ (either their local parish church, the nearest cathedral or the church where they were baptised). This was called ‘mothering’. It then became a day when domestic servants were given a day off to visit their mother church, usually with their own mothers and family.
In 1913, thanks to the efforts of Anna Jarvis and Constance Penswick Smith, the Mothering Sunday Movement was started. By the 1950s the day was celebrated across the British Isles.
Mothering Sunday always falls on the fourth Sunday in Lent, 21 days before Easter Sunday, and is now more commonly known as Mother’s Day.
How can we celebrate?
Mother’s Day can be a fun event to celebrate with your Early Years but it is important to remember that, while some people have a mother to celebrate with, some had a mother who has now passed away, some grew up with relatives or foster carers, and some have two mothers, two fathers or any combination of these. There are also families who don’t celebrate Mother’s Day, or similar days, because of religious reasons.
Gender-specific events can be difficult for children who don’t necessarily fit into the strict specifications of the day. Our role as practitioners is to ensure that every child feels not only accepted and “allowed” to participate, but celebrated with these events.
- To start with, it may help to send a note home with your early years children to notify their families that your setting is planning to do some work around Mother’s Day, and if they are happy with their child taking part. Explain to families that you want to be as inclusive as possible and will be enabling children to share about their home life, if they are comfortable.
- The focus of any Mother’s Day activities can easily be shifted to focusing on caregivers. Using examples from nature of hens taking care of their chicks or dogs feeding their puppies, talk about the theme of caring and thinking about who, in your Early Years’ lives, cares for them. This could be a parent, grandparent, foster parent or carer.
- For any take-home items like Mother’s Day cards, why not change the theme to ‘Thank You’ cards to thank children’s parents/guardians for taking care of them? And making fun print patterns as an alternative to the stereotypical flower design that often fronts a Mother’s Day card ensures nobody feels left out.
For more Mother’s Day inspiration, here are That Nursery Life’s top five Mother’s Day book recommendations!
A gentle exploration of gender stereotypes that will both entertain children and encourage them to help out around the house.
Packed with humour and interest, this book gives the great message that every family is unique, special and worth celebrating.
This heart-warming story is all about encouraging children to do what they want with the strong foundation of unconditional support and love.
A beautiful demonstration of what makes a “real” parent – not biology, but love.
A relatable story about children discovering the need for independence for the first time, and balancing it with the need for comfort.
For further reading, why not check out TNL’s Six Early Years Books to Break Down Gender Barriers?
Whatever you do for Mother’s Day, the main focus is to ensure all children feel involved and included in any activities you have planned, and don’t forget to let us know what you’ve been up to on our socials!