Gift Ideas for Busy Moms

My Christmas lists as a kid were legendarily long and detailed (if sloppily handwritten)—kind of like this girl’s wish list, which went viral. (I wish I had thought to ask for “a little thing that can turn into anything at any time,” because that would have been incredibly helpful about 20 different times this morning alone.)

But these days, my wish lists are extraordinarily small. That’s a product of being among those lucky enough to be able to afford the necessities and plenty of extras, and being a working mom of two very busy girls, which means my hobbies are things like sleep and laundry. And that also means that my husband and daughters have a tough time coming up with gifts for me (fancy dryer sheets?). I find myself asking for the same exact things my mom asked for 30 years ago, which led to much eye-rolling and sighing from my siblings and me. And now leads to much eye-rolling and sighing from my husband as well.

So here’s what I’m hoping to be gifted with this Christmas:

1. Child-produced awesomeness. As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing more wonderful than my daughters’ handprints in clay, stick-figure family paintings and photo-adorned ornaments, or whatever other crafty ideas my daughters’ teachers dream up. They’re even better when paired with the hilarious messages the girls often write in the cards they make. (At Thanksgiving, my oldest was thankful that we have jobs so we can pay taxes. I am thankful for half of that statement.)

2. Child-chosen gifts. A close second in my estimation are the goofy gifts the girls buy with our money at the school Santa shop. I like seeing where their imaginations and tastes take them. The “diamonds” may fall out of the ring two hours later, and the bouncy ball may not be the most utilitarian gift, but they’re cherished just the same.

3. The banishment of certain phrases from the family vocabulary. I would like to call a moratorium on the following: “It’s not fair,” “Why does she get to…,” “I don’t want to go to school,” and “She’s touching me.” That’s just for starters.

4. An honest-to-goodness sleep-in day.  At last count, I’m about 324,000 hours into sleep deficit. There’s no hope of making that up, but it would be nice if on any given Sunday (usually our only day to sleep in), my daughters could read quietly and fix a bowl of cereal instead jumping on me demanding pancakes.

5. A (reusable) guilt-free pass. Kind of like that Monopoly Get-Out-of-Jail free card. I probably would need to use that on a daily basis. Like when I forget about being mystery reader for my daughter’s class, or show up last at pickup. When I’m short-tempered and always in a rush. When I completely suck at sending out proper thank-you notes to my daughters’ friends for their birthday party gifts. (If you’re reading this, sorry, and she totally loved the craft kit/gift card/board game.)

6. A rocking bass guitar. Because sometimes, a mom just has to do something besides track down lost leotards and harangue her children into eating clementines instead of cookies. I choose to rock out with my band.

7. The services of a professional organizer, and carte blanche to spend at Container Store. I was voted Most Disorganized in my high school class (along with Most Likely to Succeed)—and unfortunately, I haven’t improved in the intervening years. And even more unfortunately, I married a packrat myself. Still, I aspire to have my house someday look more like the Pottery Barn catalog and less like a sea of papers atop a Pottery Barn coffee table.

8. A few extra hours in the day. If I can’t have the aforementioned “little thing that turns into anything at any time,” I really want Hermione’s time turner from Harry Potter, or Doctor Who’s TARDIS, or some other item that would allot me extra hours to get things done. Then when my friends all say, “How did you manage to bake 10 dozen cookies, get your daughter to Nutcracker rehearsals, order Christmas cards, clean your house for out-of-town guests, host a fabulous party, finish a work project for a client AND still find time to take your dog to the groomer’s?” I’ll just smile and wink. (By the way, all that and more needs to be accomplished in the next 48 hours at my house. A time turner would be awesome right about now.)

9. Nothing more than what I have right now. When it comes down to it, I have everything I could possibly want right here, right now. The best husband, two amazing kids, three cats and one big goofy dog. My parents, sister and brother, who I love dearly—even if I don’t get to see them very often. A roof over my head, and food on my table. A large and crazy web of aunts, uncles and cousins—and my amazing grandma, still going strong at 80+. Great friends who are like family, the kind where you kind of just walk into each other’s homes and wouldn’t feel too bad about calling during a 3 a.m. emergency. (And thankfully, we haven’t had to take each other up on that.) And really, what more could you want than all of that?