How to Have the Best Mother-Daughter Spa Day
Several years ago, my dad decided that instead of the usual Christmas presents, he would gift my mom, my sister, and me a mother-daughter spa day. With my sister living in another state, he knew just how hard it was for us to spend time together. So he decided that the perfect gift would be a leisurely spa day, during which the three of us would hang out together in between appointments for facials and massages.
We had such a great time that my sister and I have coordinated with our dad over the last couple years to plan more spa days for our mom, who still gets excited about them.
I'm now adept at navigating the nuances of spa gifts, and have some tips, just in time for Mother's Day.
1. Go during an off time.
I've learned over the years that the best time to go to a spa is basically any day but Saturday. On Saturdays, you and your mom will sit in your straight-backed chairs and look forlornly at the women sprawled in cozy lounge chairs, anticipating that they'll soon get up or be whisked away to their massages. But that will never happen; those women now live in those chairs.
You'll also learn that there's no such thing as a private steam-room chat on a busy Saturday. And there's definitely no such thing as a private locker room for you to change in (though you can always change in the bathroom stall or shower if you're really shy). If you don't want to deal with the crowds and want even more attention from the staff, go on a weekday, or barring that, a Sunday.
2. Let Mom pick out her own treatments.
Though you probably can't go wrong picking a spa treatment you think she'll like—or opting for bundled spa day packages—part of the fun of going to a spa is picking à la carte services and building a custom experience.
In my family, my dad purchases a gift card with enough money on it to cover at least one treatment for each of us. Then after my mom opens her gift and sees which spa we're visiting, the three of us pore over the service menu and discuss the benefits of each treatment. That ritual is its own mini bonding experience.
Another thing I've learned about letting your mom pick her own treatments is that she may pick something completely unexpected. During our last mother-daughter spa day, my mom surprised all of us and opted for a bamboo massage. I never would have picked that for her because I know bamboo massage can be a little intense, but it ended up being her favorite treatment.
3. Don't be afraid to call and ask questions.
Despite the fact that I love all things beauty, write about beauty for work, and go to the spa at least once a year, I don't always know how to interpret a spa menu full of flowery descriptions. That's when I call the spa and ask.
One spa menu, for instance, listed "water cures," three types of oils below that, a time limit of 20 minutes, and a price of $45. It sounded intriguing, but when I called the spa, I found out it was not much more than a bath with scented oil. Pass.
If you and your mom are new to spas, don't be embarrassed to call and ask the staff to explain the treatments to you before you book. Knowing what to expect will help manage expectations and prevent disappointment.
4. Pack your bags for a spa trip.
A mother-daughter spa day at a local spa is great, but a mother-daughter spa day out of town is even better because it gives you even more time to hang out with your mom.
For my mom's 60th, my sister and I whisked her away to Denver. As great as it was spending time together at the spa, it was even better spending a long weekend together, exploring the local breweries and restaurants before heading back to our rented house to enjoy a bottle of wine in our comfy clothes. So if you really want to impress your mother, take her on a trip that includes a day at the spa, but doesn't revolve around it.
You don't have to go very far, either. We've had several weekend getaways to spas that were an easy drive for all three of us, such as Heidel House's spa in Green Lake, Wisconsin, and Hotel Julien's spa in Dubuque, Iowa. These may not have been traditional spa destinations, but they were all lovely. And as my mom likes to say, it doesn't matter where we go, only that we're together.
5. Don't wait until the kids are grown to have a mother-daughter spa day.
Maybe you're a mom who wants to have a spa day with your own kids instead of your mom. If your kids are teenagers, it's possible. Although I've personally never seen any teenagers, I have seen "teen facial treatments" listed on plenty of spa menus. I would suggest looking into the age restrictions at area spas.
If you have really young kids, you won't be able to take them to a traditional day spa, but you can take them to a kids' spa. These spots often have Mommy and Me treatments, such as mani-pedis, giving you the opportunity to spend some uninterrupted time together.
Colleen is a makeup/skincare junkie who has a serious Sephora problem. She writes about all things beauty and occasionally does hand modeling for work. Her job is strange.