The Daddy in our household is impossible to shop for. About a month before the holidays, he goes out and buys himself every gadget newly on the market. During the January sales, he buys himself a discounted but very nice wardrobe to go with the gadgets. By then we have maxed out our budget and he is content – he has everything he has ever wanted.

Talk about shopping for the guy who has it all.

Very Busy Man – Dmitriy Shironosov

 

Then Valentine’s Day comes and the kids clamor to get their great daddy a great present and I just stand there, flummoxed.

Confused woman

 

This year, though, we came up with an incredible gift. It took some time and it took some planning ahead, but it cost nothing else and required only some markers, some pencils, some paper and a bunch of envelopes.

Art Supplies

The gift? Daddy’s Mood Solutions: a one-stop remedy for every possible mood plaguing our overworked, overstressed protector.

 

Here’s how we did it:

First, I explained the whole project. The kids got so excited it was hard to contain them. My 11-year-old wanted to buy a present for each mood but I explained we would be writing notes and making drawings and suggestions instead.

Once they understood the parameters, we made a list of moods. Happy came up first, but also angry, sad, frustrated, nervous, and a host of others. My favorite was grumpy, mostly because of the faces the kids made acting out the emotion. This was a very fun family activity, and also a chance to explain just why their daddy might be nervous or sad one day, in addition to his usual silly or playful or just plain happy moods.

When we next had the house to ourselves, I wrote on the outside of several envelopes: “Open when you feel….” and added the name of one of the emotions on our list. I had also cut up several sheets of blank typing paper into 3×4 strips.  I didn’t worry too much about them being perfect, just made a big pile.

The kids each took a stack of envelopes and went to work, creating ingeneous solutions for their dad’s moods.

 

Open when you feel sad =  “I will give you a big hug!”

Open when you feel stressed = “Play ‘Hey Now You’re a Rock Star’ real loud!”

Open when you feel worried = “You are the BEST! DAD! EVER!”

Open when you feel scared = “You can throw me to the ceiling! You can do anything!”

Open when you feel angry = “It’s ok if you have to yell right now. Just show me this paper and go ahead.”

 

Tear jerkers? Some of them. Some were just silly and some were just awesome. I loved my son’s solution to “Open if you feel bored:” c’mon over to my room and let’s play a game. I also loved the paper doll family that looked just like us that my 7-year-old daughter drew and carefully cut out for the “Open if you miss us” envelope.

“It’s so he can pretend we are with him!” she chortled, while making the paper family do family stuff (like go on a picnic and adopt a dog and a bunny she also drew).

I wrote my own love notes and put them into their appropriate envelopes, too. Why should the kids have all the fun? In the end we had fourteen envelopes filled with suggestions on how to solve the many of the bleakest moods that ever plagued a parent. The whole package was put into a big overly-decorated manila envelope – though we could have gone even more crafty and made a fancy box…

Treasure Chest of Love by Vern Sharf

 

In any case, I offer this gift idea for that hard-working, heavy-lifting, deep-thinking, always-trying-to-do-the-best-thing guy-who-has-it-all. He, more than anyone, often forgets that the most effective solution to those terrifying adult moments is an infusion of kid-friendly love.

Your family is a treasure, and this easy craft is one simple and fun way to make that often overlooked love both tangible and permanent.

Milda M. De Voe

Milda M. De Voe

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Milda M. De Voe is the founding director of Pen Parentis, Ltd., a nonprofit that provides resources to authors who are also parents (www.penparentis.org). She writes under the name M. M. De Voe (www.mmdevoe.com) and has two great kids in Lower Manhattan.

Pen Parentis offers a $1,000 Fellowship to fiction writers who are new parents (must have one child under ten to be eligible) to help them stay on creative track. Winners are invited to read their work alongside established writers in September 2014 in Manhattan, and the winning story will be published by Brain/Child Magazine (application deadline April 16th and guidelines on penparentis.org).