Wondering what to give the mother in your life this Mother’s Day? Karen Bouris, publisher of "50 Ways to Improve Women’s Lives," has a list of five gifts whose benefits will last longer than chocolate or flowers.

Karen Bouris

(WOMENSENEWS)–It’s not that moms don’t love to receive chocolate and flowers on Mother’s Day (in fact, most of us will take them any day of the week).

But if you really want to make the mother in your life happy and reward her for all of her hard work, there are some more important gifts that she needs right now that will last far longer than a sugar rush.

Here are five versions of standard forms of appreciation that partners and adult children can extend to Mom this May, and all year round. They are all adapted from "50 Ways to Improve Women’s Lives," published by Inner Ocean Publishing and edited by the National Council of Women’s Organizations.

Clean Up Your Room

Cleaning up our oceans and our air will ensure that mothers’ bodies are toxin-free when we’re pregnant, breastfeeding and raising our children. Right now, pollutants in our water and air supplies, such as mercury, are being passed on to our children, not to mention contributing to asthma, cancer and heart disease. These same pollutants can also contaminate our food supply, with sometimes devastating effects.

Steps to a solution: Take half an hour to learn more about environmental health by checking out the Web site for the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Buy Mom and yourself organic produce and products. Commit to fighting for our environment by supporting the Natural Resources Defense Council.

No. 2: Ask How She’s Doing

Approximately 1-in-5 women will experience depression in their lifetime yet many are at risk for it going unrecognized and untreated, according to Lori Valencia Greene of the American Psychological Association. Mothers often put their own needs last, feel hopeless and powerless and suffer behind closed doors.

Steps to a solution: Ask your mom how she’s doing and really listen to her answer. Learn more about mental health and find resources for yourself and your loved ones. Talk openly about depression to overcome the shame of mental illness. Support legislation that expands group health plans to include quality mental health care.

No. 3: Put Your Money Where Your Mom Is

Did you know that for working mothers the wage gap–known as the mommy gap–is actually getting worse?

Each year it is estimated that families lose up to $4,000 due to wage discrimination. Nancy Hurlbert, president of Business and Professional Women USA, says that when women are paid less than men, both families and individuals suffer, as "we’re left with less money to spend on groceries, housing, college funds, child care and retirement savings."

Steps to a solution: Encourage Mom and all women to negotiate for a fair salary. Ask your company to conduct an internal pay audit to ensure pay equity (check out "Ten Steps to an Equal Pay Self-Audit" on the Web site of Business and Professional Women/USA). Call your elected officials to support improved pay equity laws.

No. 4: Don’t Get Sick, Get the Healthy Families Act

When my friend Anita’s child had pneumonia and then her mother-in-law broke her hip, she was forced to resign from a job she’d had for 12 years in order to help care for her family.

In five weeks, she and her husband went from two incomes and health insurance coverage to a half salary with no benefits.

Steps to a solution? Ask your senators and representatives to support the Healthy Families Act and let your friends and family members know about this important public policy initiative.

No. 5: Help Get this Party Started!

Mothers often hold themselves back from pursuing their own dreams. Parenting requires compromise from both parents, but in order for a more equitable number of women to take leadership positions in our companies and our government, our ambition must be supported.

As Marie Wilson of The White House Project says, "Women are still forced to choose between professional success and family life in ways that men are not." Yet it’s women’s leadership that is desperately needed.

Support from others is what often allows us to raise expectations for our own lives.

Steps to a solution? Help all the moms in your life get over mother guilt and support their goals. Encourage them to go back to college, start a business, run for office! Help with child care, read a resume and offer words of encouragement.

Karen Bouris, mother of two, lives in Hawaii, where she runs Inner Ocean Publishing, which published "50 Ways to Improve Women’s Lives."