The Best Birthday gift for a busy young mom
September 12, 2010 7:06 PM   Subscribe

My sister is the mother of two young 'uns, four years and one and a half , respectively. She is harried but eminently happy! Her birthday is coming up, what would be a good present to give her?
posted by storybored to Human Relations (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Oh, I should mention I'm a dude, from the genus clueless. e.g. I've heard a "spa treatment" sometimes goes over well with the ladyfolk but I don't know what to ask for if I go into one of those places. (e.g. not sure of secret password etc).
posted by storybored at 7:08 PM on September 12, 2010

posted by Bardolph at 7:08 PM on September 12, 2010

Offer to take care of the chilluns for a weekend and send her off on a weekend getaway (even if it's just the B&B around the corner) either by herself or with her husband or best friend.
posted by coppermoss at 7:10 PM on September 12, 2010

You can simply get a gift certificate for her at a day spa. These places typically offer a range services, such as hair styling, manicures/pedicures, facials, chemical peels, waxing, massages, etc. This way she can choose what she would like the most.
posted by gumtree at 7:29 PM on September 12, 2010

Depending on your budget, a spa gift certificate that covers a massage and some other kind of treatment (a pedicure, let us say) is a good amount ... that generally covers one "big" treatment and one "small" treatment, and gives her enough flexibility to decide what she wants to do and try (one huge treatment? big/small? 3 small? etc.)

But most spas will also have half-day and full-day packages, and smaller packages like "hour-long rejuvenator" or even "mommy relaxation" or something. Check the websites of spas near her if that's the direction you want to go.

My brothers usually get me books, though. :)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:22 PM on September 12, 2010

storybored: My sister is the mother of two young 'uns, four years and one and a half , respectively. She is harried but eminently happy! Her birthday is coming up, what would be a good present to give her?

Your not giving us a lot to go on which is why you're going to end up with generic "spa treatment" answers. I mean, it's a great gift it just isn't a particularly tailored answer to "what should I get her?"

She is not only the mother of some short people; she has interests and hobbies, and even if they're on the back burner they are still specific to her and she might enjoy something related to that - books, or cinema passes to a revival theatre, or theatre tickets or a knitting care package or a half case of gorgeous wine or an ant farm or four chickens or...

Just, you know, more about her would help :)
posted by DarlingBri at 8:51 PM on September 12, 2010 [2 favorites]

Just, you know, more about her would help

And not all women like spas. It's not a one size fits all gift. Tell us about her and/or her past life as your sister before she became a mother.
posted by CathyG at 8:59 PM on September 12, 2010

Yes that's a good point. She likes sci-fi and literary fiction, she enjoys cooking. She watches quality tv like HBO but I don't think she likes it enough to go for say boxed set DVDs. She likes some comix. Here's the thing - I've gotten her plenty of books in the past, and I kinda feel she doesn't have as much time as she used to with the kids taking up so much of her time.
posted by storybored at 9:13 PM on September 12, 2010

Still more about her would help, but I'll try!

I gave my sister (busy young mum) a David Sedaris audiobook (it was about 7 CDs worth). I know she listens to things (radio etc) late at night if she is up, or on her commute on the days she works, or driving about in the car. Different way of doing books!

Might be worth considering a cookbook (if you know what sort of cooking she likes, not just some generic bit of crap cookbook), or a specific cooking tool if you know what she might be missing from the kitchen set up. If you provide further info about this, we could make further suggestions.

What about a gift certificate to a restaurant, instead of the spa thing? But anything like that has to come with a firm offer of babysitting so she can actually use it.

Lately, I have given quite a few people rather expensive socks (usually as part of a gift, not just socks!). They have been received well because so many people cheap it out on stuff like that, but really good socks are very different creatures to horrible cheap socks. Very nice cashmere wrap is nice too, but probably requires more judgment on your part.

Another oldie, but a goodie - flowers?? It is one of those less practical things that I am guessing harried mothers don't buy for themselves, and may not be having bought for them as much these days. But I love having beautiful flowers in the house.
posted by AnnaRat at 3:27 AM on September 13, 2010

I have a 5 and 1.5 year old and agree with the ideas above for taking the kids for all or most of the day. Even if you do dinner, overnight, and breakfast with the kids (i.e., they're corralled in a way that's easiest for you, a non-parent), that would give her time to herself, or one-on-one with her partner, which is probably something she can't get easily.
posted by cocoagirl at 3:53 AM on September 13, 2010

Yes, Yes, Yes to the the babysitting sitting idea. Maybe you could include a gift certificate to a nice restaurant. Just as an added point of info...because of time constraints, it took me 2 years to use the spa gift certificate someone gave me when my son was born, so I'm less a fan of these...although it was very relaxing once I had time to go.

If she loves cooking than I'd suggest an extravagant All Clad 12" fry pan...they are awesome! Or maybe a set of spices from Penzeys and a subscription to Cooks Illustrated.

Also, does she have a TIVO? I worship at the alter of my Tivo and so always encourage others to join the cult.
posted by victoriab at 6:03 AM on September 13, 2010

I too have a young one and I recently went to an overnight spa---HEAVEN! If she likes to cook, are there cooking classes where she lives? That might be fun too. And, of course, offer to babysit so she can enjoy her gift.
posted by murrey at 6:23 AM on September 13, 2010

Buy her a membership to a local children's museum and a present in writing a standing offer to take the kids to the museum once a month. The first time you show up for babysitting/museum duty present her with the gift certificate for the spa/cooking lesson/knitting class/jewelry making workshop/whatever you know she likes.
posted by 8dot3 at 6:43 AM on September 13, 2010 [4 favorites]

I have two young kids of similar ages and agree, the babysitting offer is The. Best. I like cocoagirl's recommendation! Even if you just do some evening babysitting while the kids are asleep, or act as a "mother's helper" to watch the kids while the parents are at home. Or pay for a babysitter of her choice to come by for a day. Ask her what she'd prefer. Some people are more neurotic than others about handing off the kids, but it's a rare mother of young kids that wouldn't jump at the chance. I have an enormous list of tasks I would like to do but don't have the time and, even below that, hobbies or fun stuff for me I wish I could get to.

I enjoy cooking, but personally I am not a big fan of cooking gifts unless I've specifically requested it. I do most of the cooking in the household and after a while... it feels more like a chore. So a cooking-related gift is a gift that is about work, even if it's about making the work easier or more enjoyable.

I think most people enjoy spa time, or a massage. But, yes, I was given some of both last Christmas and it took me half a year to use the massages and I just used the pedicure certificate a couple weeks ago. You still have to find the time to get there. It's not a bad idea, though. If you do, take gumtree's advice and just get a gift certificate so that she can choose which service she'd prefer.

Personally: my house is a mess, so flowers are nice but kind of meh. I do read, but very sporadically, so prefer to buy my own books when the mood strikes and I have the time. I wouldn't be able to use an audiobook: when I am driving somewhere it's usually with the kids, and the older one is full of chatter and questions.

I do enjoy having some nice new clothing, as I have neither the time nor the money to shop much these days. But that's so personal, it's hard to do for someone else. I would however enjoy nice loungewear, pajamas, or a bathrobe in which to do my mucking around the house!

You sound like a thoughtful guy and I think, whatever you choose, your sister is likely to appreciate it.
posted by Herkimer at 6:52 AM on September 13, 2010

Your sister and I have two things in common: We both have 4 year old children and we both have wonderful brothers. My brother takes my son out and finds new playgrounds for him with ever-higher things to climb .. and takes him on walks in the woods, and takes him to his house to watch nature shows on his huge screen TV. Meanwhile, I am left at home but to me it feels like heaven. The house is quiet ... my child is with a responsible loving adult who broadens his world .. it's the best possible thing my brother could do for both of us. He's giving of himself. He does this pretty regularly, not just for my birthday. For my birthday, he gets me the most disgusting off-color cards he can find which I love, and usually a bag of candy.

Personally I have no interest at all in a spa day or spa services. But a few hours to myself where I'm not the one who has to leave the house and actually go somewhere is just the best.

You sound like a great guy. Your sister is lucky like I am.
posted by Kangaroo at 7:11 AM on September 13, 2010 [3 favorites]

Cleaning services go over well with most of the moms of little kids I know. So, too, subscriptions to "we make awesome meals" services. The kids are on the young side for the museum membership - but the zoo might work well, depending on where you are.

If she's really into sci-fi and you have the cash, send her to Comic-Con 2011 and take care of the kids + house while she's gone.

Deliver your awesome gift with chocolates and flowers, by the way. Especially if it's a delayed gratification gift.
posted by SMPA at 7:46 AM on September 13, 2010

Oh, thanks everyone for the heartwarming answers. (Kangaroo, that's the nicest answer i've ever gotten to any AskMe question). I've a soft spot for the babysitting idea, just last week I went out with the little tykes to the park to fly model planes. Loads of fun! I also like the idea of museum tickets for the family.
posted by storybored at 2:03 PM on September 13, 2010

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