Teacher Gift Anxiety
Who out there is like me? I tend to remember that we need end of year gifts for the kids’ teachers about two days before school is out. And then all those cute, personalized gifts are no longer an option. You know which ones I’m talking about. The coffee cups/water cups that have their name on it and “Best Teacher Ever!” Or the scrapbook of all the pictures of my kid and the teacher throughout the year. Ahhhhh!!! And the panic sets in!
By the time I remember that I should be buying something, I am generally stuck with only gift cards as an option. Not that gift cards are a bad idea. (I think they are GREAT idea and I’ll probably suggest that this is the gift of choice for this year.) But I always feel so un-creative when I give a gift card. Maybe I’ve got some sort of crazy, need to be Martha Stewart and all of Pinterest combined, expectation of myself. If I’m being honest, I for SURE have a crazy expectation that I feel I need to achieve. I feel guilty and like I’m letting the teacher and my kids down if I don’t come up with a cool, handmade, time-intensive gift.
Why do I feel this way? Well, there are a lot of Pinterest moms out there who amaze me and blow me out of the water in terms of creativity and late night crafting skills. And there are great moms who are organized and plan ahead for their teacher gifts. These moms astound me and I want to be like them!
I find that I want to be Supermom: cooking, cleaning and crafting to save the world! But honestly, this isn’t me. I love to cook and bake. I even don’t mind cleaning if I ever get the chance to really focus on it. (That doesn’t seem to happen as often as I’d like.) But I’m not a super artsy person. Crafting is not a something I do just for the fun of it. Maybe I’m too practical or left brained for it, I don’t know. I love looking at the finished product, just not all the steps and work involved in getting to that point.
The time crunch is probably a big part of that. That and the mess. And not just my mess, it is my kids’ messes too. Because if one person in the house is doing something crafty, everyone else wants to do it too. Or start their own crafting project, times 3. So then I’m trying to manage 4 projects at the same time as cook dinner and keep the dog from eating everything. That is when the stress comes in. And when stress comes to visit, you get to meet “Mean Mommy” (say it in a deep, scary voice). I don’t like to be Mean Mommy. Mean Mommy makes me sad. So I have to try to set better expectations for myself.
That is why I like gift cards. My favorites are to places I know they’ll like (i.e. Target, Starbucks, Amazon, Jamba Juice, their favorite restaurant, or a great teacher store that isn’t too far away). But I also like to involve the kids. I ask them what they think the teacher would like. Last year, my son really wanted to give his teacher some Expo or Sharpie markers. I guess the teacher always needed more and he wanted to help meet that need. (Very practical, like Mommy!) Or my older daughter, who has an amazing generous heart, wanted to buy fancy nuts, chocolates, bouquets of flowers and every stuffed animal she saw.
I find that I have to help them set their expectations too. I let them know we have a budget we have to stick to, so maybe a diamond necklace is not going to happen this year. And as much as Mommy would love to help them make that fancy Pinterest idea the morning of the last day of school, we have to make sure we have enough time to get things done and get to school on time. One thing I do encourage is that they make their teacher a card. They can draw or decorate it however they want, with whatever we happen to have at home. And then I will cook dinner in semi-peace.
This year I’ve got a two weeks left of school and I feel like I may be ahead of the game. I’ve started to ask the kids their ideas for teacher gifts. And just because I am not at my best when I have to be super crafty on a time crunch, doesn’t mean I can’t help to make this fun for the kids. We’ll probably pick a small, inexpensive item or two to include with the gift card to make it feel more well-rounded. And of course the handmade, heart-felt card!
Pep talk to self (and anyone who relates!): Be free from the pressure. You are your own biggest critic; no one else will fault you for it. It is okay to go the easy route and avoid un-needed and un-wanted stress!