Typical Mother’s Day gifts can sometimes have a downside, especially if there are young kids involved. There’s breakfast in bed, followed by lots of cleanup in the kitchen. Or dinner out, including cutting kids’ meat, shepherding little people to the bathroom, and feeling responsible if children shout or get silly and bother other diners.
So what about something offbeat? Mothers in the thick of raising little ones can be hesitant to ask for time off, but they might be grateful to receive it. About 4 million women in the United States gave birth in the past year — some might appreciate more than some cut flowers.
Besides an offer of free babysitting for your favorite mother, consider a gift certificate for a relaxing spa service. Nancy Rynkiewicz of Marcellus was surprised one Mother’s Day when her firstborn was a baby. Her husband, Steve, took her for a ride in the car — without her purse even. The stop was Mirbeau Inn & Spa in Skaneateles. She had never visited before, and he dropped her off for a pre-paid spa treatment and lunch—all by herself.
“He said just go in and give them my name,” she recalls. Following the Mirbeau custom, she ate lunch in a robe after her spa visit. “It was so peaceful.”
Now Rynkiewicz helps other families come up with ideas for making the people in their lives feel special. As owner of Everyday Art in Marcellus, she designs, paints and crafts items and classes for gifts and a fun, creative time. She develops workshops and decorative items for individuals based on their goals and needs, such as artwork for a child’s room, painting furniture and more.
“I am open to whatever, but I think a lot of people really want the suggestion,” Rynkiewicz says. So she suggests painting T-shirts, canvas tote bags or giant initial letters to hang on a wall. For those who want to pick up a quick but interesting gift for a mother, she suggests her handpainted, 6-inch flowerpots that come with a plant in them for $20. A former furniture artist at McKenzie-Childs, Rynkiewicz designs many of the items in her shop and features items by other local artisans and craftspeople as well.
She offers a Mommy and Me art class every Friday morning for $6 a child. The mothers from one class decided to take have a grown-up girls’ night out. They brought appetizers and desserts to Everyday Art that night, and Rynkiewicz led them through an art project and a bunch of laughs. “They want to come back monthly,” she says.
Some mothers, however, must be reminded to focus on themselves, even if there are other mothers — usually grandmothers — to celebrate with on Mother’s Day, says Karen Capozza of Baldwinsville.
One of her favorite ideas that a friend tried was getting away with the family for a picnic and a hike. Trying a new location can make the day feel special. Central New York abounds with walking trails, such as Great Bear Recreation Area in Phoenix, Green Lakes and Clark Reservation State Park.
That’s just what Kirsten Parsons of Oswego is hoping for this year. “For me personally, I like spending the day with my family, so that’s kind of the best gift that any of them have ever given me: their undivided attention, no cellphone, no distractions.” That’s asking quite a bit of many children these days, and she has three — Cheyanne, 14, Patricia, 8, and Tyler, 5 — whom she is raising with her wife, Jenifer Cruikshank.
When asked about Mother’s Day, Parsons thinks of her grandmother, who died in 2012. “We used to do a picnic brunch where the whole family would get together and spend time …We’re kind of readjusting and I guess finding our stride,” she says a bit wistfully.
More offbeat wonders
Here are some more ideas for different ways for mothers to celebrate. You can give one to a mom in your life, or hint to your loved ones that it’s something you’d enjoy. But remember, any gift that requires a mom to go out without the kids should include the guarantee of free babysitting.
For the adventurer or would-be adventurer, an Outdoor Discovery School class with L.L. Bean. Check out the website to see options starting at $20 a class for kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, fly-casting and more. In Central New York, most take place on or near Cazenovia Lake.
One yoga class or a series of 10. Find one that’s conveniently located for the mother on your list: at the YMCA, a gym, church basement or area studio. Wrap up a yoga mat as the gift to open on May 11 and include inside the gift certificate for a class — plus babysitting.
A gift certificate for a manicure and pedicure to start off sun and sandals season. Many salons offer package deals to get both hands and toes painted, and many good deals for the same can be found on websites such as Groupon and LivingSocial.
A gift certificate for a massage at a local salon or the Onondaga School of Therapeutic Massage, which offers discount prices for supervised massages by students.
For a more elaborate wellness experience, try a package of services offered by many spas, such as SpaZend of Syracuse. Pamper a mother with an energy-restoring break of several hours that includes a massage, body wrap, facial or foot treatment.
Why not play in the mud? Check out the Mud Run Guide for training and race information to try an obstacle course run through the mud. Several take flight, as they say, during the spring and summer in Central New York. There’s plenty of time to train for Utica’s The Mighty Run in September. There’s a singles competition, but most of the run is for two-person teams. Even children may compete early in the day. It’s the perfect event for a mother-and-teenager team to train for all summer. The course includes monkey bars, a wheelbarrow race and a muddy crawl, of course, among other obstacles.
A class of coffee. That’s known as cupping — one learns how to brew the perfect cup of coffee with a delectable swirl of foam, and how to evaluate coffee and its origins. Café Kubal offers classes to learn the art of coffee in its Syracuse-area locations.
Make your own wine at Syracuse Wineworks. It can even be a couple’s adventure that stretches over several weeks of winemaking, bottling — and drinking.
A gift card to a women’s clothing store, so it can’t be spent on the kids, husband or home. Rynkiewicz received this as a combination birthday-Mother’s Day present one year. “I shopped for six months (with that card). I really enjoyed that because I could go shopping (guilt-free),” she says. “I think a lot of moms tend to neglect themselves,” she adds, and a gift card for a store like Chico’s or Talbot’s makes sure they focus on their own needs.
For older parents, often a visit is the best gift of all. When it comes to presents for her mother and mother-in-law, Rynkiewicz says, “I try to think up things that are kind of ongoing that keeps their enjoyment over things they used to do for themselves that they can’t do anymore.” That means on Mother’s Day she takes her daughters, Megan, 13, and Grace, 8, to their grandmothers’ houses, where they plant flowers and a tomato plant or two in pots that can be easily reached on the porch or next to outdoor steps. The visit “is a gift in itself, to actually spend time,” Rynkiewicz says.