The act of finding that perfect Mother’s Day gift can be a daunting task but fear not: internationally-recognized parenting expert Jeannette Kaplun, founder of Hispana Global and a mom of two herself, has you covered. During an exclusive May 6 interview with Yahoo, the personable blogger and TV personality offered up a host of great gift suggestions — and one that should be avoided at all costs.
My own mom and grandmas live on the opposite side of the country. What are some good gift ideas for long-distance moms?
Kaplun: I’m in the same boat as you are because my mom actually lives in Chile. So I found different ways of creating meaningful moments without having to be presently there with my mom. One of them is actually creating a video message. Instead of sending a traditional card, what I love doing is I download the free Skype app on my tablet and my smart phone and my computer and that way I can record a video greeting for her any time I want to or any time my kids are in a good mood. I send it to her and she can actually play it over and over again, which is pretty incredible, and it’s free! So that way it reaches her and you can’t get more personalized than that.
You said with Skype?
Kaplun: Definitely. With Skype you can stay connected. And now so many TVs have smart TV technology and it’s so easy to do a video call using the Skype app. Kids don’t even realize that they’re actually putting a show in front of the camera, so you can use music, they start dancing, you could have them sing a special song. And they don’t even realize that they’re part of a surprise for Mother’s Day for grandma and I think it’s a great way to get the kids involved because once you get them on the phone sometimes they clam up, they don’t know what to say, they’ll just say yes or no. Once you get them moving and doing fun stuff, for mom it’s great because she can actually see her grandkids and how big they’re getting or how funny they are.
What are some of the more creative ideas you’ve come up with for making a video that’s more of a coordinated effort instead of the kids being their crazy selves?
Kaplun: Well, instead of just allowing them to be kids, what I suggest for parents is to direct their kids’ creativity. That means creating a special song –and that way they’ll stick to the song– or creating a special dance… that way it’s more planned in advance. Usually kids respond really well when you tell them what to expect because if you just let them do whatever they want, sometimes it can get a little crazy, especially if they feel that they’re seeing themselves on camera. Some kids love it and others, not so much. So I always tell parents to direct them and tell them what’s going to happen beforehand. The other great way is to have them draw the card, and that way you can snap a picture or show it to grandma while you’re doing the video call. It’s a great way to get them involved with their creativity and their imagination without really feeling that you’re making them do something.
Step-parenting can be kind of tricky and definitely political, so how can kids or husband make step-moms feel special?
Kaplun: The most important thing that you need to keep in mind with a step-mom is you can’t leave that call for the end of the day. You really need to make your step-mom feel special and loved at the beginning of the day so she doesn’t feel like an afterthought. You need to tell her how special she is for you and the best way really is to look through your pictures before Mother’s Day, find one that shows a special moment that you shared with your step-mom and then share it with her while you’re on your video call or while you’re on the phone with her. I think it’s a great way to show her that you’ve been thinking of her and it’s not really something that you had to do but you really felt like telling her that you love her.
What do you think is the most overdone Mother’s Day present?
Kaplun: The most overdone Mother’s Day gift that I have seen is gift cards. Sometimes it’s just a generic gift and I really think that Mother’s Day is really about creating meaningful moments and telling that person how special they are for us and doing something special for her. Take a few minutes to think about what mom really likes to do. If she’s into sports, even if you get her a gift card, don’t make it generic, do it for one of her favorite stores. Or make something for her. Buy her something that she wouldn’t usually get for herself because mom is usually taking care of everybody else around her and she doesn’t pamper herself that much. If she’s a coffee lover, kids can make a mug. It’s doesn’t need to involve a lot of money.
If your mom or grandma is local, what’s the best Mother’s Day meal to have with her?
Kaplun: Brunch is a good choice. Some families have difficulty getting moving in the morning and you don’t want to be rushed [so breakfast isn’t the best idea]. Brunch actually gives you a nice time to get settled in, to get the kids ready. That way once you’re out and about with your mom and your grandma you actually get to enjoy the time, everybody’s in a good mood. And remember, it’s all about sharing those moments together. It’s not about the meal or about rushing it’s about enjoying each other’s company.
One last thing. What’s the best Mother’s Day present you personally have ever received?
Kaplun: The best Mother’s Day present that I’ve ever received was a picture that my kids made for me. They did this amazing collage and they put their hand prints on top of it. I still have it in my office and I absolutely love it. I love my kids.
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