It’s 3:00 AM. You have just been awakened by the shrill screams of a tiny human. You rip away the sheets and struggle to put on your robe as you hobble your way towards the crib. Fumbling for the night light, you pick up your restless child and start to make the familiar shushing noises in hopes of soothing the beast.
After a half hour of feeding, you sluggishly burp your child, wiping away the regurgitated milk (including the drops on your robe) and slowly lower your love into the crib. You wait. You pray. Please. Don’t. Cry.
If the trip is successful (if not, repeat) you shuffle back to your bed around 3:45 AM, trying to brush away any thoughts that seemed to creep their way into your consciousness. Did I remember to mail that thank you card? Dang, I didn’t send that email; I need to remember to do that before ten today. Ugh, I’m thirsty, but going to the kitchen will only wake me up more. I hope my order from Amazon comes in today, maybe this product will help my baby’s gas issues. Uh-oh, it’s already 4:30 AM. I need to try to sleep before the next feeding in an hour and a half.
If you are lucky enough to resume your slumber at this point, you are rudely reawakened by siren call of your baby, what feels like minutes later. This time, the sun begins to break through the curtains. Once that light spreads over the room, you know that (much to your dismay) the day has begun…and you need to get moving.
Oh the joys of parenthood.
Okay, in all seriousness, there are many joys of parenting, but the nighttime routine is usually not one of them. It is ruthless. It is cruel. It is torture. And it can feel never-ending (my son is nearing the fifth month mark and has only twice slept through the whole night. I mean at least eight hours — I know “sleeping through the night” is five hours, but in my humble opinion, that is very misleading to those of us who failed know the semantics until we were well into motherhood).
Beyond the sleeping, there is a surfeit of other tasks and pains associated with parenting in those first several months. Feeding. Baby blues. Physical recovery. If you work, finding a new balance between your family and career life. Heck, even finding out who you are as a parent is a challenge.
There are so many things that can make you feel unprepared going into this journey — no matter how many books you read or classes you attended. And there are so many moments when we just need a break. There are just times when you need to Treat Yo’ Self.
That is where this list comes into play. This is a list of splurge-worthy gift ideas that can help parents maintain their sanity and their health… whether you are buying for someone else, or yourself.
This water bottle has markings to signify how much water you should consume at various times of the day. There are many of these on the market, but I like that this one comes with a infuser for fruit or veggies (mmmm….cucumbers). The best part about these tracking water bottles is that they can help remind you to drink your 64 ounces of water a day. Personally, I can tell a difference on days I met that mark and days I didn’t (and it is not just from the number times I have to run to the bathroom). On the days I consumed more water, I feel hydrated and tend to have fewer headaches. (Which is most welcomed as a parent!)
If you like to exercise, any gym membership can serve as a great gift. If you are more like me, a membership to a gym that only provides equipment loses its appeal (weightlifting is not my friend). However, there are gyms that offer more than just equipment. Some provide classes, massages, and even better, daycare. So, when I am able to steal away to my gym, it is heaven. After an hour yoga session, I’m off for a dip in the pool and then a soak in the hot tub. Being able to spend two hours relaxing — in silence — is just enough of a reboot for the next few days.
I haven’t used my regular vacuum in a month. I just press a button on my phone and Sharkie here does the work for me (although, if you don’t have a smartphone, you can just press the button on the robot). How well does it work? I have a Labrador that sheds greatly and a maple tree that sheds those annoying helicopter seeds; both typically end up scattered across my floor. Not to mention formula dust and food crumbs. This robot picks it all up. It is also easy to empty (press a button and toss out the garbage — I do this once every two days to maintain maximum pick-up) and it can go long enough to cover my whole house in one charge (my house 1,093 square feet). There are times when he (we call him DJ Shark in honor of Parks and Recreation) will get stuck, but generally, he is able to navigate his way around without any problems. There are more expensive models with all the bells and whistles, but I felt that this one (about $200) was more in my price range than the elites (some near $1,000).
Sleep becomes more of luxury as a parent (especially of a newborn). But those couple of hours are made so much better when you can smother yourself in the soft, smooth sheets made of Egyptian cotton. I used to think that thread count didn’t really matter, but when I caved and tried my first set of 1000 thread count sheets, I knew I could never go back. On top of being extremely comfortable (both in the winter and in the summer), they are very durable and easy to clean. I have had the same set of sheets for nearly six years now, and they are still holding up nicely.
Coffee, Coffee, Coffee
If you are looking for a gift for a sleep deprived parent, figure out what coffee (or tea) they prefer and stock them up on gift cards. Dunkin’ Donuts. Starbucks. Panera. Caribou Coffee. Gloria Jean’s. Teavana. Or, if you think getting out of the house is too daunting of a task for them (it was for me that first month), spoil them with a good coffee maker or Kerig (my Kerig is really the only reason I feel I can make coffee in the mornings; I can do it fast and with one hand). If they are a latte or espresso person, consider splurging on the 7 piece, all-in-one Espresso Machine and Cappuccino Maker Barista Bundle.
These gift cards are amazing because they can be used at thousands of spas. To see what spas are available, visit their websites and search via zip code. They not only provide massages (which is a fantastic gift for tired, over-worked parents), but services also include grooming, hair removal, fitness, and body treatments.
Streaming Services Subscription
When you are taking care of an infant, sometimes watching TV is the only thing you feel like you can do as you rotate between naps and feedings. However, some parents (myself included) don’t feel like paying a massive cable bill to watch TV: enter streaming services. HBO, Sling TV, Amazon, Netflix, Hulu and so forth all have their own price tags and content to offer. Personally, I like Netflix for two reasons. First, there are never commercials or ads. Second, I really enjoy the Netflix original shows and movies. (Stranger Things anyone?) Regardless, providing entertainment to the busy parent is a great gift.
Another great entertainment gift is the Amazon Fire TV Stick. You can download a variety of apps onto the stick, including streaming services (from movies to music). Additionally, if you are tech-savvy, there are apps (like the Kodi App) that provide you with the ability to watch TV shows and movies (some that are still in theaters) without a subscription!
This gift is appropriate if you a) have some experience with children and b) are actually willing to follow through. As a parent, finding babysitters can be tricky, and downright anxiety-filled if you don’t know — or trust — someone to watch your baby. So, if you have a healthy relationship with the parents, have time in your schedule, and know a bit about how to care for the age of the child you are volunteering to watch, I encourage you to make your own coupons (or buy some pre-made — see link above) as a gift. You can even specify times, dates, or length of the babysitting. (For example, you could write, “This coupon is for a four hour babysitting session on a weekend of your choice!”) Again, don’t do this one unless you are absolutely serious! Otherwise, you’ll just look like a schmuck.
During those first months post-natal, I rarely got dressed. I lived in my bathrobe. I also had to wash that bathrobe often, as milk, spit-up, and poop would often find their way onto it. And during the colder months, the robe also served as a blanket. With the vast array of robe lengths and materials (fleece, towel, cotton), choose one that you find the most comfy and easy to move in (I like the shorter robes because I find them easier to get around in than the longer ones).
If you feel like indulging, while making your time outdoors even more enjoyable, buy a reclining double lounger. Why double? Because it allows room for both you and your baby. The reclining aspect is also nice because you can lie down (if you are lucky to have a nap) and you can sit upright when you want to interact with your little one. (My son loves to be outside. I will rest on our recliner, with him in my lap, and we will watch the leaves of the maple in our front yard rustle in the wind.)
No Prep Home Delivery Meals
My last splurge gift is food. One thing I definitely did not do when I came home from the hospital with my baby was cook. I basically lived off of frozen meals and granola bars. Sometimes, friends and family would bring over food and it was a wonderful break from the less-than-ideal meals I had grown accustomed to. If I were to do it over again, I might have added a no prep delivery meal service, like Freshly, to my baby registry. These meals can be cooked in under three minutes and have a variety of dishes to pick from. My favorite part is that I wouldn’t have to leave my house!
Even though parenting is difficult, there are ways to make the job easier. While the gifts mention above are in no way required to be productive, they can give you a bit of comfort and relaxation.
Sometimes you just need to give yourself a treat yo’ self day.