Getting our moms interested in trying new technologies and experiences – via Mother’s Day

535870_10152749896055019_317303881_nI recently read a study that the best way to get our parents’ generation interested in technology is, quite simply, by teaching them.

My mom is by most standards “with it” for her generation. She has a smartphone and a MacBook Pro. She knows how to iMessage, tweet, even how to Facetime and Skype. She, like many a mom, exists on social media only so far as to stay involved in (and keep tabs on?) my life – she likes my Instagrams, RTs my articles, shares my Facebook statuses. Her own social media footprint is slightly more dubious. Her Instagram is comprised of about a half dozen photos, taken over the past year…interestingly, all of seafood dinners.

Much as it was our parents’ job to get us interested in reading and writing – and mine did that in spades – it is our job to pay it forward, to bring them to the next generation of infotainment. They raised us in a world of VCRs and disc mans, a world that no longer exists. And that is why, as holidays and birthdays roll around, my brothers and I take the opportunity to give my parents tech-savvy gifts to ease them into the place their world is going. Items they didn’t necessarily know they wanted, but soon discover they can’t live without.

This past birthday, my father got his first-ever iPad. He doesn’t use it a ton, but it’s by his bedside each evening, allowing him to catch up on the day’s news and sports scores before bed. For a man that a few short years ago didn’t have an email address, it’s a giant step forward.

Go with their strengths
My mother is a creature of habit. Each evening after work, she’ll enjoy a cup of tea or a hot cocoa as she watches the DVR of her day’s soaps. My father can’t start his morning without his morning coffee. Their home, one of children already raised, is one that a single-cup coffee maker is now ideal. They want to craft fun coffee concoctions, but they don’t need a lot of complicated bells and whistles – or a lot of counter space taken up. I recently got my mom the Nescafe Dolce Gusto Genio Fiorucci Coffee Maker – she’s really excited she can make caramel macchiatos for her friends when they visit, and I’m really excited my mom has something so edgy and cool in her kitchen. (Because, obviously, it makes me look cooler.)

The gift of showing off
Interesting thing I noticed about my mom – many years ago, in fact. Her favorite gifts of all are the ones she can display in front of her friends and colleagues. This is normal – I operate very much the same way. While in previous years I may have given her a gift card for a spa facial or dinner, this doesn’t have the same desired impact. She wants the bling, something like the new Samsung S5 Galaxy that just happens to be waterproof and launching soon in copper gold — a maybe only because it’ll require an IOU pending release date, and my mom is way more a fan of having her gift on the actual day she is being celebrated.

It’s something she obviously wants, but not something she’d take the initiative to buy herself, or even know how to select should she have wanted to – making the season of gifting (or the day of celebrating herself) all the more perfect an occasion.

Gifts don’t have to be as big as a new phone, but just something adorable or flashy she can look cool and be noticed. Middle-aged water cooler life decisions are very similar to those we make around the playground when we need the best sneakers or snazziest lunch box. Get her a fun new iPhone case (I dig these Nicole Miller for Target cases and they retail for under $20) or a fun new set of headphones — even if you are secretly motivated to make sure you can hear her music, but you won’t have to. These Altec Lansing Headphones come in pink, are on sale for well under $100, and they are foldable. That’s stuff moms like to hear. No pun intended.

Years ago, my parents went on a road trip to Florida to visit my grandma, and borrowed my camera for the trip. En route, my mom dropped my camera and it never returned from their journey. If I were one who harp on a long dead horse — which I am — a cute gift may be a new camera of her own, so she has no need to destroy or lose mine in the future. Maybe one like this Olympus TG-850. It’s waterproof, awesome should she, say, drop it into the pool without realizing. Which could happen. Or would happen, if she was still using my camera.

The gift of …the cleaning being done for her
When I was a kid, I was dumb. We all were, this isn’t a big revelation. I thought it was OK to give my mom a broom for Mother’s Day because that’s something she always uses. She was, obviously, not pleased.

Now that I’m older and wiser I realize that my heart was in the right place, my brain just wasn’t. I could have gotten her a house-cleaning service appointment from Merry Maids – and facilitated taking her out to lunch while someone else cleaned her house. (An obvious double whammy of awesomeness), or give her a tool not to just keep on doing the same work she already is doing forever, but making that job easier, say with an iRobot Scooba – which is what ended up happening. It’s fun to watch it scoot around the kitchen as it scrubs and cleans, and I get the added joy of watching my dogs flip out. Always hilarious.

Maybe your mom secretly wants a hot pink standing mixer more than anything. (Actually, wait…that’s me.) Maybe she wants an epic wine cabinet or a retro-fab storage love seat. Maybe she’s like my mom and using her puppies as substitute grandkids until she gets the real deal — then she’d be all over this puppy bouquet of flowers. The point is, you should be paying attention and taking notes.

The gift of…getting out of town.
Everyone wants a vacation, few people take the initiative to find something super exciting and different to do. For instance, my parents are huge fans of Dancing With the Stars – never miss an episode. A simple Google search told me about Karisma Hotels & Resorts’ DanceFIT – KS by Karina Smirnoff of Dancing with the Stars, who is teaching a 3-day dance and fitness routine from June 20-22 at El Dorado Casitas Royale and the newly opened Generations Riviera Maya by Karisma. How cool is that? Whatever your mom’s “thing” is, there is probably a vacation escape you can create around it.

The point of the whole exercise is to remember your mom is the most important person in the world — or at least your world. Get her what she wants, get her what you think she may secretly want, but get her SOMETHING. Otherwise what she’ll be “getting” you will equate to a whole lot of grief. To my mom, and to all moms, happy Mother’s Day!

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