May is for Mothers (And Grandmothers!)

I was talking with my mother earlier this month about Mother’s Day. Historically, I get her something that I’ve heard her mention that she wants or something I think she would like. For the past several years, it’s getting harder and harder. There’s nothing the woman needs or wants. She knows it, I know it. And the last thing I want to do is give her something to “keep” that just becomes another obligation to display and maintain. It’s not fair to her.

Recently, she’s started decluttering. I’m ALWAYS working on the clutter issue for myself, but she’s spent most of her life collecting. She’s now swimming in 60+ years of collections, and she’s tired of juggling it all. I’m thrilled. I’ve been preaching simplicity for years, but she’s been highly resistant. A few years back, she admitted that she liked the idea, but didn’t even know where to begin. She needed help. I’ve tried to help as I can, and as she will allow. She’s finally embracing the rightsizing concept!

This year, there seems to be a breakthrough! I told her that I couldn’t think of a thing she wanted or needed for Mother’s Day and I actually needed her help. She said that from here on out — for all occasions — I was not to bring her things, but was to TAKE things. It was a horrible, awkward moment. (You see, I don’t want her stuff.)

I declined as gracefully as I could, and offered to come help her sort and make a trip to the local Goodwill. Instead of taking in tangibles, I went and spent the day with her. Now, maybe I did go to the best European bakery in the area and buy an amazing fruit tart (a tiny one) and hand carried it to her — but old habits die hard — but nothing more. I plan to limit any future gifts to consumables — small, immediate, amazing consumables. She loved it! And, she loved the afternoon together. So did I.

Instead of carrying in gifts for your own mother or grandmother, why not help her instead? Spend time. Help her clean or organize. If you can’t be there yourself, give her a gift certificate for weekly maid service or hire her a professional organizer.

If you want to offer a more traditional gift, why not take her for a manicure or to a hairstylist? If she can’t get out or you can’t get home, find one that makes house calls.

Buy her a handyman service for an afternoon — be sure you have a few things on the list for him to handle, just in case she doesn’t have one already created. Eliminate some of those things that need tending that she can’t do herself.

Sometimes, the best gift is even more simple…

Why not schedule and an appointment to place a phone call to her? My mother calls her own mother between 9 and 9:30 every evening. Sometimes they talk for five minutes, sometimes for an hour. But my grandmother looks forward to that call EVERY day and has told me how special it is.

My grandmother doesn’t get many visitors, and having that regular, dependable contact makes her days more measurable — preventing days from running together — and gives her something to look forward to. Even if you can’t do the phone call every day yourself, you can look into a service that will do daily check-in calls and you can follow up with a personal call from you once a week.

Whatever you decide to do to make your mother or grandmother feel special this month… make sure it continues throughout the year and that you take extra steps to help improve the quality of her life, not the quantity of her possessions.

RightSizing® is federally registered trademark and property of Smooth Moves for Seniors. Use of the term without written permission is violation for federal law.

Rightsizing Gifts: Thoughtful, No-Clutter Gifts for Aging Parents

Your parents live far away. You want to be there for their birthday, anniversaries and other special event days, but that’s not always possible.

How would you like an inexpensive way to let them know you are thinking of them? Something that would keep them looking forward to the days leading up to a special event? Something that made you both look forward to daily contact?

I have JUST the thing for you!

My grandmother just had her 88th birthday and two of her daughters decided it would be a great idea to send her a care package of packages. Her birthday is on the 16th of January, so they sent 16 small, individually wrapped gifts with the instructions that she was to open one every day from January 1 until her birthday.

She could open them in ANY order she liked, and they called her each day to see which one she had unwrapped. She LOVED the special attention and was nearly giddy about the prospect of having another gift to open the following day. It was a lovely experience for everyone involved.

The gifts were not expensive and they were NOT things that added to the clutter. There are many examples that you could use and here are a few ideas:

  • a special, scented soap
  • a particular spice for cooking
  • a tiny box of gourmet chocolates
  • a tin of herbal tea
  • a good book
  • a magazine issue (or a magazine subscription in his/her name)
  • a new pair of reading glasses
  • a pair of new gloves
  • a handkerchief
  • a colorful block of post-it notes
  • a package of seeds to plant
  • a special coffee blend packet
  • a family photo from your last visit
  • a roll of stamps
  • stationery/note cards
  • a smooth writing pen
  • a magnetic grocery list pad to keep on the refrigerator
  • a music cd
  • hand cream

You get the idea. Now think of your own special someone and create a list of things you think they would like, could use or might need. Make sure it’s a consumable that will enhance the quality of their life and not add to the clutter. Then select the next upcoming special date and send it out with all the love that the box can hold (and don’t forget to drop in the individually wrapped packages)!

Everyone likes getting mail and packages are the best! If you have a birthday that falls early in the month (on the first or second for instance) you can always do a 7-day care package for the days leading up to the date.

And then, when you call (or they call you) each day to share the latest discovery, it will spark conversation and strengthen the communication bond, which matters much more than the items that caused it. And most of all, it will let them know that you are thinking of them — even when you can’t be there!

RightSizing® is federally registered trademark and property of Smooth Moves for Seniors. Use of the term without written permission is violation for federal law.

(Note: Image provided by ppdigital of