Among the many frontline heroes of the past pandemic years stands one group whose work and presence proves invaluable: Grandmas.
They’ve been there for grandchildren not yet in school, for grandchildren attending school remotely and, without a doubt, for their harried adult children navigating life — and particularly parenting while working in particular — during a pandemic.
So when this Mother’s Day rolls around, the #1 Nana in your life deserves more than a mug with that moniker. At the same time, your capacity to give your mom an extravagant (read: expensive) gift may be beyond your financial grasp at the moment.
That’s OK. Honestly — and we’re not just saying this to make you feel better — such things probably aren’t what your grandmother wants anyway.
After all, the more clutter people have, the lower their life satisfaction, according to Joseph Ferrari, Ph.D., St. Vincent de Paul Professor of Psychology at DePaul University in Chicago. His advice: “Don’t run out and buy her stuff.” Instead, he says, build relationships and memories.
Gifting isn’t the item received, says Cindy Sullivan, president of the Institute for Challenging Disorganization. Instead, she says, it’s “that act of doing for someone else.”
But before you race over to implement your super-helpful ideas, stop. “It’s still their space,” says Sullivan, who also has a coaching and consulting business, cbSullivan Consulting & Organizing. Ask where they might like support, she says, making the decision-making process collaborative.
Use yourself as an example or focus it on her doing you a favor, suggests Amy Tokos, president of the National Association for Productivity and Organizing Professionals, founder of Freshly Organized and co-host of the podcast, Your Real, Your Ideal. This could mean sharing that you’ve started using a meal delivery service and asking if she’d like to try it, she says, or requesting to do yard cleanup as you’re seeking to get more exercise.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Make and celebrate memories
You, your siblings and all the grandchildren could bring a meal to your mom, Ferrari suggests; grandchildren could share stories, telling what they love most about their grandma, or share a memento from a shared experience.
Also, you’ve heard it recommended before, but if you haven’t given digital picture frames a look in a few years, it’s time. Many of them now give you the ability to upload new pictures (from the other side of the world, as long as you have an internet connection) that will then appear in a frame at Grandma’s house in real time. Another idea: You and your family could take some time and scan old photos from albums that may have been collecting dust at the back of the closet for years. It’s time they were digitized and saw they light of day. (Plus, this is something the whole family will appreciate.)
Enhance the everyday
Have you noticed that your grandmother’s papers are normally strewn all over the kitchen table? Maybe spending a day with her to help organize into a new file box or filing system could be just the thing she needs. You could set her up with folders for important paperwork, such as receipts for taxes or medical bills. Other simple, but meaningful updates Sullivan shares include adding more light to a space, or showing her how to enable a closed captioning feature on her TV. You could also help her adapt storage in her home to avoid climbing step ladders for essential items.
On that note, if your mom still lives in your childhood home, offer to clean out your old bedroom, if it’s been a while… or a few decades. (No, The National Archives is not waiting for the notes you folded into origami and passed in eighth grade.) There may be a way your mom would like to use the space, perhaps for an arts and crafts studio, or another hobby.
Demystify the digital
From communication and social media platforms to apps used for finance, technology is pervasive. Unfortunately, the ways to use it change often, and toggling between screens to find an elusive answer can be more than frustrating. Find out what your mom uses — or wants to use — and ask if she’d like you to write out the steps to scheduling that Zoom meeting or setting up those automatic payments.
Where you keep information needs to be accessible and intuitive for the person who will use it, says Tokos. For example, when it comes to passwords, she notes the possibility of setting up a password manager or using a little notebook.
Wrap up a gift card
Treating your mom to extravagance is great if that’s your mom’s cup of tea, but consider a card for a business you know she frequents. Show that you know what she appreciates, Ferrari says, suggesting a gift certificate to a favorite restaurant, store, or credit for a useful service.
Cook up some favorites
Maybe you know your mom’s most beloved recipes – as well as her culinary and dietary restrictions – and want to surprise her with a freezer stocked with healthy meals and sweet treats. You could even cook with her, if she’s up for it. Or, Sullivan suggests, offer to come help bake the cookies she distributes around the holidays. (Because time spent with you is her favorite gift of all.)
Donate to her favorite charity
If she’s told you once, she’s told you a thousand times: She does not want more stuff. Of course, you still want to honor her this Mother’s Day. Consider a gift to a cause you know is dear to her heart.
Finally, we know not everyone will be celebrating with their mother. You can always choose to enjoy a day filled with other amazing women and nurturers in your life, or you can choose to do something to honor your mom’s memory if she has passed. As Ferrari says, “all we’re called to do as human beings is to show kindness.”
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- A Mother’s Day Gift Guide For Daughters On A Budget
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