There’s still time.
No one goes out in search of a gift with the hopes of disappointing the recipient — assuming we do actually care for the person and aren’t implementing some devious revenge plot complete with an anonymous glitter bomb delivered to their house. No, we want to give gifts that bring a smile to their face and joy to their life, and there’s no one we should want to do this for more than our beloved moms and dads, especially as their respective days of honor approach.
Yes, you can absolutely go out and get them the standard gift certificate for a spa day or yet another tie, but allow us to encourage a different approach this year. Get them something useful. It may not sound all that endearing or exciting, but this parenting gig is an endless juggle of trying to raise tiny people, while also trying to keep our house from looking like the set of Twister and our yard from resembling the Klopeks’ in The Burbs.
To help you navigate the options this year, we’ve compiled a list of the top gifts of the season to help the harried mother or father.
1. Robot Vacuum
With four small children running around and our hectic schedule, we were having a tough time keeping up with the dog hair and dirt and crumbs and general mess. Whether you go for the high-end-high-dollar models that you can control with an app on your phone, such as this Roomba, or you choose the no-frills more-affordable version like the iLife, this little helper allows mom and dad to have more time to sip wine and put their feet up while the robot does the dirty work.
Sure, they can have a tendency to get stuck on things, to go about cleaning in the least efficient manner (perhaps not great for the OCD parent), and to act a little drunk trying to find their way back to their charging base, but there’s something pretty wonderful about setting the little guy on the ground and letting them worry about the floors. Plus, you can name them.
Ours is Charlotte. She’s awesome.
2. Pressure Cooker
Gimmick or God-send? It’s a matter of opinion, of course, but the Instant Pot has a cult-like following for a reason. While it’s not quite as magical as I had envisioned, I will never make homemade macaroni and cheese or steamed rice or even mashed potatoes on the stove ever again. With this little baby (available in numerous sizes) I can make some great staples without worrying that the 2-year-old or the dog is going to trip me while I carry boiling water to the sink. The time saved hasn’t nearly been as beneficial for my family as the sheer convenience of throwing stuff in, pushing a button, and then doing something else.
Having a gadget take care of a job that used to require my undivided attention (Hamom!) has been well-worth the price tag.
3. Air Fryer
Here’s another somewhat pricier addition to your kitchen that you don’t know you’re missing until you actually get it. There are many models out there to try. We have this one, which my husband got me as a birthday gift this year. As with any new appliance, there’s a bit of a learning curve as you adjust recipe temps and times, but with some patience and persistence what used to require preheating the oven or cooking with gobs of oil can all be done with less energy, less time, and less fat. Win-win-win there.
Sure, the boxed wine thing is still popular with some, but if you want more variety and adventure in your wine collection, finding a good subscription is a great option. We have been members of Laithwaites for a year-and-a-half, and their customer service is superb. We also have tried one shipment from Wine Insiders, which included 12 bottles of reds that have not disappointed. We aren’t wine connoisseurs, of course, so I’m merely basing this on the customer service (top notch), price, and our satisfaction with the wines.
Now if only our state didn’t limit the number of bottles we could have delivered to our house in a year. Note: one caveat here is some states don’t allow alcohol shipped to residences, and someone 21 or older has to be present to sign for the package, which can be tricky if you work outside the home and your boss doesn’t allow booze deliveries to your cubicle. Still, well worth the hassle of having to adjust schedules around the delivery a bit.
5. That Bottle They Won’t Buy for Themselves
We’ve covered the wine dad in you life, now it’s time for the whiskey mom. Sure, she has her go-to, the one from the middle shelf that she keeps around for normal occasions. What she needs is the special bottle, the one from the top shelf, that she won’t normally buy for herself. Maybe it’s a single malt scotch, maybe it’s an Irish offering, or maybe it’s a bourbon. Whatever it is, though, it exists and is a gift that will be savored and appreciated, and such savoring and appreciating is helpful to a harried parent at the end of the day.
6. Free Time
The first step to any mother’s or father’s day is to become a parent, which is great. It’s also exhausting and it rarely ends. Even when the kids do learn how to make their own pancakes, they also manage to get batter in other rooms in the process. They have boundless energy. They are loud. Their taste in entertainment is often terrible. They are demanding. They have more energy than a Chihuahua that just power slammed a few Red Bulls with his bros. So, what to do?
Offer to take the kids out of the house and away from the parent whose day it is. Give the gift of time, specifically quiet, peaceful, free time in which the remote control and beverage selections are left solely to the discretion of one parent.
7. Someone Else to Do It
No, not that. We’re talking deep cleaning; flipping over couches and ottomans and finally paying attention to the baseboards cleaning. Or maybe the area that needs attention is on the outside of your house. The lawn keeps growing and the kids aren’t tall enough to reach the lawnmower handle and it’s hot and inadvisable to drink mimosas while operating machinery. That’s when you hire someone, maybe even hire someone to come a few times. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.
Maybe a local museum that provides a diversion when wrangling kids. Maybe a gym. Maybe a movie pass. Like the bottle they won’t buy, this is one that has to be given, because while kids eat up every minute of time, concept or not, your better half won’t admit that. They won’t carve out moments for themselves without prodding, and they aren’t likely to self-justify the purchase of that hefty annual zoo membership. Sure, it’s a gift card, but one with a call to action.
You may notice this list is coming late, but that’s okay, because you’re reading it. You’re late too! The beauty of it is that most of these suggestions can be purchased last minute. Card, email confirmation, done. For while the goal is to ease at least one burden someone else is facing, you don’t have to add one on yourself. We’re trying to make things easier for everyone involved, after all.
So, go out there and get something useful, maybe even drudgery in a box. Maybe something fun at the same time. CLEANLINESS IS NEXT TO FUNLINESS! Pardon us, we got caught up in the moment.
Nevertheless, making things easier for everyone involved, while still fomenting growth and all that, is what parenting is all about. And, also, pass a mimosa, turn on the roomba, it’s our day. We can be a little lazy.