Mom, the business ownerLooking for Mother’s Day gifts? You’ll find all of the spa, chocolate and wine recommendations elsewhere. Here, we’re talking about Mother’s Day for moms who own or run their own small businesses, or are the chief driver of a family business.

If your mother fits that description, then chances are her business dominates the majority of her life. And some days, not in a good way. That’s because running a small business — even when you love it — is like running an obstacle course that never ends. So, for this Mother’s Day, consider removing some of those obstacles. Here are three common types.

The “We Need More Business” Obstacle. If your mother is routinely facing this challenge, consider giving her something that will bring in more customers. Buy her a sign for Mother’s Day. Sidewalk signs (called “A-boards” in the sign trade), are those A-frame folding signs that sit in front of a business to make it more visible to drivers and pedestrians. A-frames also signal that the business is open. Both things help to drive more traffic into an office or shop.

The “Not Enough Time” Obstacle. Most small-business moms have a long list of “gotta-do” items, some of which never get done because there’s simply not enough time. Invite your mom to sit down over coffee or pizza and tell you all about the things she can’t get to; and among those things find something you can do for her. Frequently, you won’t have to be an expert in her business to help. Here are a few items that often fall onto a small business operator’s list that can use help from family:

  • Paint one or more interior walls that are showing their age; or update some of the lighting
  • Clear out the storage room, install metro shelving, and organize and label inventory
  • Help with weekend or holiday deliveries
  • Learn which supplies she needs regularly and make a supply run for her once a month so she doesn’t have to leave work to do it
  • Take the company vehicle in for servicing, or be available to give her a ride back and forth so she can make it happen
  • Learn how to be a part-time cashier, warehouse clerk, or janitor and help out on weekends when your mom might have to do these tasks herself

The “I’m Exhausted” Obstacle. Sometimes moms work so hard by day, and then compulsively clean and cook at night, that by the end of the week they’re simply spent. This is even more likely if there are kids in the house, and it costs everyone the chance to spend simple, unpressured, quality time with Mom, because she always has a chore to do instead. Contrary to common wisdom, a gift certificate for a massage is not the cure for this malady.

The greatest Mother’s Day present for a woman in this position is to figure out how your household can be a work-free zone for Mom, at least Monday through Friday. This means someone else agrees to do dishes and clean up the house every night; someone else does most of the grocery shopping; someone else gets out the duster and vacuum; someone else takes on the laundry and makes sure everyone has clothes for the coming few days; someone else gets the weeds pulled and the lawn mowed before your mother gets her (most likely) one day off each week. This means everyone in the family reorganizes their life to accommodate a Mom they love and appreciate; then on her one day off, Mom has enough energy to spend time enjoying the family, and vice versa.

For most mothers, that would be the greatest gift of all.

Happy Mother’s Day!