Understanding Needs

Practical Gift Ideas for Mother’s Day to Show Your Love

Mother’s Day is just around the corner!

How can we express our love to our dear moms, grandmothers, and aunts who have been showering us with their unconditional love throughout our whole lives? There are many ways to show them we care, as illustrated in the 5 Love Languages for our seniors.

One of the Love Languages is receiving gifts. If one of your mom’s love languages is receiving gifts, then this Mother’s Day is a perfect excuse for you to send her some surprises!

Here are our Top 5 Gift Ideas pick.

5 love languages for senior parent receiving gifts

How to get started on knowing what our parents need?

Read on: Back to basic: Simple ways to get to know our parents better

Read on: Women in your life – how can you understand them better?

1. Home Appliances

Electronics are getting so advanced these days that you can build your own smart home by buying appliances off the shelf.

Is your mother still using the traditional rice cooker? Is she still having to endure the smoke from deep-frying your favourite “sotong” (cuttlefish)? Maybe it’s time for you to introduce her some advanced kitchen appliances that is practical and simple to use. My mom recently love her new electric cooker / steamer which she can just reheat some soup or steam little buns at her convenience.

Don’t forget to help her to set up the appliance and guide her on how to use it. Adoption of new technology does not happen naturally!

2. Mobile Gadgets

When is the last time she upgraded her mobile phone? Is she having issues with the keyboard, volume, or speed of the phone? While she may think that it’s not necessary to change to a new phone as the current one is still usable despite some defects, it may be worth considering the convenience she gets to enjoy if she gets an upgraded gadget. Knowing what she usually likes to do on her phone can also help you decide on the model to get for her.

Most importantly, provide her with a “hyper-care” period by helping her to set up and get used to the new gadget, and make her feel safe using it.

3. Health & Wellness

Some examples of health supplements are vitamins, collagen, birds nest, herbal drinks. Always remember to verify the seller’s source and credibility before buying!

Choosing the right health supplements for our mother requires understanding of her needs. Does she need supplements for her joints, eyes, or digestive system? Does she has any allergy? Will she resist in taking supplements? If so, why?

Those are just some examples of questions to ask yourself before buying the supplements. It’s about buying for her needs and understanding her behavior.

Check out this HemoHIM herbal drink to strengthen immune system for women

Apart from supplements, massagers can be a good idea too. And make sure you teach her how to operate them safely!

Check out this Snailax Massager

4. New Hobbies

Helping our mothers to find new hobbies can be great too. Giving them new “toys” to learn new skills and pass time can help them stay energetic and youthful.

Be it a new cookbook, terrarium, or a camera drone, if you know something that might spark her interest, it’s worth trying to pick up the hobby with her. That will also encourage more quality time with her and even intergenerational bonding with your kids if any.

5. Daily Accessories

Who doesn’t want their mom to look good? Our mothers deserve to be pampered! We can get them new watches, jewellery, beauty & personal care items, and even new pair of shoes.

However, it can be tricky if they have very specific preferences. So, do some homework on observation. Although it’s about the intention of gifting and not about the gifts, it is a great bonus if the gifts are of their very liking!

Also, think about their current conditions. For example, if my mom is still working and she runs sales, though I know that she used to like wearing 3-inch high heels, should I buy her one if I know her knee is not feeling comfortable recently? Another example, should I get her a normal pretty watch or an Apple watch which she can pick up her phone call more easily? If I’m getting her an Apple watch for that purpose, should I get her an Airpod too? Well, the list goes on as we put in more thoughts into making their lives better.

Hope that gives you some good inspiration to get a nice gift for your mother this Mother’s Day! The best gift for her is nonetheless your quality time spent with her and your tender loving care for her.

By the way, Shopee is having sales right now for Mother’s Day!

Bonding Tips Understanding Needs

Back to basic: Simple ways to get to know our parents better

Are you confident in knowing your parents well – from their habits to their needs and wants? Are you sure that your knowledge of them is still up-to-date?

Growing up, it seems like there were more opportunities for our parents to know our habits and preferences rather than the other way round. We have been more vocal in expressing ourselves too. As a kid, most of us would naturally ask for things we want and sometimes, throw tantrums if we don’t get them. I remember I disliked herbal soup so much that I would cry and refuse to eat dinner. I got scolding by my mom, of course. But the next time she cooks herbal soup, she will make sure she cooks my favourite dish as well. Our parents observed our behaviours and learned to be better parents. They made sure to consider our favourite colour when picking our school bag; they tried to watch cartoons with us so that they know who we are talking about; they picked out onions from our dish so that we can eat happily.

When we become teenagers, our parents would be even more attentive in observing us so that they can tune in the right frequency as us. And they never stop doing that even as we became adults. They tried to learn our jargons and slangs so that they can join in our conversations more easily; they learned the meaning of emojis so that they don’t embarrass us; they wanted to find out who are our classmates and colleagues so that they can link our stories and gossips.

But this often does not turn into a reverse cycle where we grow up doing the same thing for our ageing parents. Most of us will only repeat the process for the next generation when we become parents.

Have you ever made an effort to observe your parents?

The needs to observe our parents in order to “serve” them better probably do not surface until we realised our parents need special attention from us due to their deteriorating health. But, we shouldn’t wait until that moment to start learning to do these. Even when our parents are well and healthy, it could mean so much to them if we pay as much attention to their needs as they did for us when we were younger.

What are their favourites – food, fruits, colours, places to visit, activity to pass time…? Have those changed over time? Are there conditions or constraints that we should be aware of that inhibit them from enjoying their favourites?

What about their preferences of styles? Type of clothing materials they prefer? Shoe type – sandals, flip-flops, open-toe…? The furniture at home? The little things they use in their daily life, such as a toothbrush?

Have we ever wondered, why do they always wear the same old shirt instead the new ones we bought for them? Why do they always like to eat salty or sweet food even though we have advised them multiple times of the risk?

Why are they so stubborn?

Sometimes, we got so frustrated that we chose to give up in trying to change them for good. But we failed to recognise that they chose to wear the same clothes because it’s more comfortable; they added more salt or sugar because their tastebuds are not as sensitive as before.

Observe to Understand

If it took our parents years to understand us, we must make efforts and time to understand them too. One practice that I learned is to simply observe their daily lives. Then, ask relevant questions.

A few years ago, I visited my parents and spent 10 days with them. My two main observations had helped me to engage them better.

  1. They are curious about new innovations, photos on the phone, news and happenings around us. This can be a good conversation topic to keep them updated and engaged.
  2. They have fixed routines and activities every day, e.g. time to watch the news, to water plants, to top up medicine box, etc. Catching them at those timings can help us share some quality time together.

I leveraged those observations as our conversation starters. To do so, I use two basic communication technics to engage them – Ask & Listen and Show & Tell.

Ask & Listen

Essentially, everyone wants their voices to be heard. With age, our voice gets more credibility and becomes louder. What we say becomes more significant within our circles. However, it will hit a plateau and go down. But the desire to be heard do not go down as significantly until we choose to accept it. This could potentially lead a senior to isolation as they no longer feel their voice is of significance to be heard by anyone anymore.

our voice significance and desire to be heard varies by age
An illustrative chart to show our desire to be heard as we age and how significant our voice is to others.

We definitely do not want our parents to feel that way someday. So, it is important to give them the stage to voice out their thoughts and needs safely. We can start by asking them questions related to our observations of their daily activities and habits. For example, knowing that my dad likes to follow the news on China, I can educate myself briefly on some current affairs or knowing some key names and ask him for opinions. More importantly, we have to give them full attention when listening. Do practice active listening and don’t insist if they are not in the mood to speak.

Show & Tell

If we are clueless about the topics our parents would be interested to talk about, we can be the ones doing the talking. We can do some guesswork and show them interesting pictures or videos (e.g. funny cat videos, cool gadget, old photos) and tell them stories about it. It is a trial and error, and we may not get their interest right from the first time. If they do not seem interested, move on. If they do seem interested, let them explore further and let them share their stories as well. For my dad and me, it was the Google Map that worked. When I was young, he always liked to show me the physical map book. He was fascinated by Google Map where he can scroll and zoom to anywhere. The next time we speak of a new place, he would ask to see it on Google Map! For my mom and me, it’s the photos of people on my phone. I would tell her their names and some stories (or even gossips) and that can take very far.

Go Now Go Further

As we grow up and enter into new phases of life, we leave our parents’ nest and set up our own. Distances can make it harder to bond. It will take a greater effort to race against their age to know them better and give them the best they deserve, just like how they cherished the moment with us as we grow up.

Make efforts to call them at a regular timing, try to exceed call duration each time, list out new topics to engage them, gossip with them, change their phone ringtone to your voice… I’m sure there are many other ways to enhance our relationships with our parents! Share your best practices with us!

Originally posted on Project Somebody Blog on June 2, 2019 by the same author.

Understanding Needs

Chinese New Year Ang Bao rate – how much should I give my parents?

If you are reading this post, congratulations! Because you have reached the age to give Ang Bao (also known as Ang Pao, Ang Pow, or Red Packet). Giving can be quite a satisfying thing to do, given that you do not overexert your own limit.

We give Ang Bao for many occasions, such as for wedding, birthday, congratulatory event, and especially during Chinese New Year. Giving Ang Bao signifies sharing of your blessings with the recipients. Usually, married couples would give Ang Bao to their juniors. In Singapore and Malaysia, it is also very common for working adults or married couples to give Ang Bao to their seniors, including their parents, grandparents, and some other senior relatives.

How much to give? Calculate with the Ang Bao calculator below.

The closer the person is to you, the more you want to give an appropriate amount to them. Coming out from university and landing on the first job, many young adults would wonder what should be the “market rate” of Ang Bao to give their parents. It’s not only to signify blessings but also as a form of gratitude. This becomes part of “how to adult”.

Based on some surveys and online references, we have developed a simple Ang Bao calculator, especially for our parents.

See some examples below.

Nevertheless, this calculator just serves as a reference. What matters is the sincerity in giving. More importantly, it is about the loves and cares you share with your loved ones throughout the year.

Hold on, what if I can’t give a physical Ang Bao this year? Does it matter if I give an e-Ang Bao?

Read on: From Ang Bao to e-Ang Bao, does the meaning change without the physical red packet?