What’s a FOAM, you ask? You might be one right now: A Friend of a Mum. IE: A person in relationship with someone, possibly since early childhood, who has since moved into that intimidating, wild and uncertain world of “motherhood.”
And although I myself am a mum, having many, many “aunties” to my children, I hear you. You don’t always know what to do with our kids. That’s ok, but for the day you get invited to a baby shower, birthday party or christening, I thought I might take the load off of you in those early years and help give tips for what you could bring.
Firstly, if there’s a registry, then please get something on it. A registry is a mum or dad’s way of saying, “As much as I love owning 150 handmade bibs with excited statements about how much the kid loves his/her parents, I need these toys/clothes/items far more.” It’s the loving thing to do. Even if you just get one item that is lower price, don’t underestimate how much it relieves a parent not to have to buy another bottle of organic bubble bath or spend $15 on a pair of leggings.
Problematically, we often buy not only “for ourselves” (thinking “what would I want?”) but now, increasingly, to show ourselves hip, cool or whatever adjective is currently in trend for “generally awesome.” Mums (mostly) don’t care that you understand that the Unicorn is the new Fox (which last year was the new Owl). If it isn’t slapped on something we need or genuinely enjoy, it’s just another item for the regift pile.
So, if there is no registry at all, what are some ninja FOAM moves that will brighten any young child’s birthday or shower?
1. Zutano Booties
These are basically the bootie of heaven for parents with children under one year old. They snap at the ankle and don’t fall off. Oh, you didn’t know that all those cute socks you bought in great packaging will end up falling off and getting lost in every carseat, carrier, stroller and floor within a month? Well, they do.
But these are forever. Pick a color/tone that suits the parents’ general vibe and click “buy” without hesitation because they are always a win. And you’ll still look cool.
Hard-board books that don’t have “flap” components to them are the best. What I mean is, those really sweet “Where’s Spot” books with lots of paper tabs attached get ripped in short time, and then it’s awkward to read, “Is he under the bed?” when there’s nothing to lift up. So try to avoid those clever ones and go for less destructible ones.
For older children, look up what series are going, ask the parent if they’ve gotten into them and buy a few. Here’s a list of my favourite “must haves” for the first three years: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Wild About Books, anything by Mo Willems and the “Oi Frog” series.
3. Bottle of wine or delicious coffee beans.
This says to your parent friend, “I see you. I love you. I’m awed to the point of explosion that you clean up all day long and don’t kill anyone who enters your home and doesn’t bow down to you on sight.” It’s never gone unappreciated.
4. Clothes for the season coming in six months.
Especially for the first two years. You probably can’t go wrong if you count six months ahead, take the season into mind and go to Zara (they have amazing sales and great priced simple tops), Rags To Raches or Target (type in “Cat and Jack” in the search box) for a diverse spread of options.
5. Art Supplies
Kids snap crayons, leave markers out, all the things mums and dads tell them not to do. This isn’t because they are anarchist monsters but rather, forgetful, flitting creatures who get distracted by the smallest thing and unless you’re a hovering superhero, you just don’t catch them in the act. So anything simple (and washable) in the art department is a win. Ditto to great colouring books.
Lastly, try your best to avoid anything electronic or irritating if dragged across a wooden/concrete/laminate floor, unless pre-approved. Some of us don’t care at all how many items are making noises at one time, and others (yours truly included) feel like we would rather bathe in a tub filled entirely with small lego parts than own multiple musical contraptions. To each their own, so find out first before you buy the farm noises pinwheel of crazy.
In the end, life and friendship is about showing up for one another, even if we’re uncomfortable. Even if you arrive without a present, you being there even if you’re wildly uncertain about kid parties and bouncy castles (or in our house tubs of water to splash and piles of cupcakes), is the most loving gift you can give. Don’t feel you need to “get it” or even want your own children: just be you and be there, and your friends will love you even more for it.
Are you a mum or friend of one? What gifts have been hits in your household?
Images via Victoria Rathweg