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Hey you! I’m assuming that you were sent here by your baby’s mama, after all, this little suggestion post is more for you than it is for her. I mean it is for her but a happy baby mama means EVERYONE’S happy. It’s not that you don’t know what to get her for Valentine’s Day. That’s not what I’m saying at all but I’ve been the mother of young children for the past seven years. I get this stage of life that we’re in; heck, I’m living this physically tiring stage of raising young human beings right now. While that bouquet of a dozen roses is sweet and the box of chocolates are a great gesture, the roses will eventually die and she’ll need to clean them up and the chances that she’ll be able to enjoy that box of chocolates all on her own is slim to none. What are you supposed to get her on this day of love? I’ve got a few suggestions…
What the mother of young children REALLY wants for Valentine’s Day
- A few house cleanings by a professional cleaner. At first glance she may balk at this, “What are you trying to say?! I can’t clean the house?!” It is imperative that you tell her in your card (and yes, you need to give her a card) that you think she does a fabulous job of keeping the house tidy and comfy for everyone else. You, however, want her to have a few times during the year when she can relax a bit and let someone else do the dirty work. There’s no shame in it, tell her, show her that you want for her to get a little bit of a break.
- Go to a place like Let’s Dish! (here in the Twin Cities) and assemble a few meals that will be frozen for her to use when she’s in a bind. This takes the pressure off of her to think of a meal when she’s having a particularly challenging day such as no one’s napping or the baby’s going through a growth spurt and needs to nurse or eat every hour and a half. Again, tell her that you love her cooking and it’s one of the favorite parts of your day but you know that having young children throws you curve balls every single day. Some days you can roll with it and other days you just can’t. These meals are for those days; you know, the ones where upon first seeing each other she’s ready to rip her hair out.
- Buy her a gift card for a few massages. Carrying around a toddler on your hip or a chest full of milk does a number on your back. Remember, this young stage of parenting is physically demanding. Buying her not just one but a few massages will hopefully enable her to loosen up those sore muscles and relax enough to focus on herself.
- Organize a mom’s night out. It’s not that she doesn’t want to spend time with you, she does, but there’s something so uplifting about being able to spend time with other moms who are in the same stage of life as you. It’s a bonding thing: being able to be in the trenches of parenting young children with other parents who are in the same stage. It’s not that she can’t bond with you over it but you two are parenting partners. Being able to chat about the ups and downs with other mothers gives her the chance to not feel like she has to care for anyone else but herself. Rather than just creating a little coupon booklet that says, “One night out with your friends” go a step above that. Check out a coupon deal site such as Groupon or LivingSocial and buy a good deal for her to use with her friends. That’s one part of the organizing that she won’t have to think about.
- Plan a date and surprise her. She’s the manager of the home, whether she stays at home or works out of the home, there’s something ingrained in mothers that makes them crave organizing and planning but that doesn’t mean that a night out with you isn’t going to be appreciated. She’s going to be really happy that you’ve put in the extra work to make her feel special. Go out for dinner, maybe bring her to the place where you spent your first Valentine’s Day; whatever you do, YOU plan it by yourself.
- Just get her a room! That’s right. I asked a few moms to share with me what their perfect Valentine’s gift would be. The overwhelming response? A hotel room, by herself, without a schedule or anyone else to care for. If she wants to sleep she can sleep. If she wants to crochet she can crochet. If she wants to watch reality TV to her heart’s desire she can do that. The key to this is solitude. The key to this is only needing to think about taking care of herself.
- Manicure and pedicure. This one is always a crowd pleaser, she’ll leave the nail salon feeling pretty and if her feet are like mine (which I’m certain they aren’t) she’ll want to show those pretty toes off.
Of course with these suggestions a card is necessary. Don’t just sign your name. Write a little note, it doesn’t have to be a novel. Tell her you love her and you appreciate the mother she is to your child(ren).
Truthfully, with all of these suggestions the overwhelming theme is letting her relax, give her permission to take her “mom hat” off and allow you to take care of her. You can get romantic in the before-we-had-children sense of the word, you know, the candy and chocolate hearts with a dozen red roses, when the kids are older and she isn’t physically worn down. Right now, she wants to feel like her hard work (and yes, it is hard work) is appreciated and recognized.