7 Things Well-Meaning People Buy Working Moms That Are Completely Useless

There are some things that make a mom's life somewhat easier, depending on who you ask, of course. It's difficult to surmise what's actually worth the investment and what can be re-gifted at the next holiday gathering until you're knee-deep in a deadline while simultaneously trying to parent. Still, as a mom with a career I feel confident saying there are things well-meaning people buy working moms that are absolutely and completely useless, no matter what type of work the mom does.

If I'm being honest, I have to admit that I didn't need much the day I went back to work after becoming a mother. I had coffee to stay awake in order to assist customers, tissues to dry my tears from leaving my two kids for the first time since their births, and there was one more thing... oh yeah. Freedom. So, for me, going back to work at a job where everything I needed was essentially provided for me, didn't require a special wardrobe or a bunch of useless inspirational posters I would end up ignoring anyway.

I get that people with the best of intentions assume going back to work for a mom will be difficult (and sometimes it is, but not all the time and certainly not to the point that a mom needs to call in expensive reinforcements), so they purchase items they believe will either offer some moral support or make the details easily manageable. But guys, instead of buying things that'll go unused, please save your money. Of course every working mom's needs are different, but for me, I didn't need all that extra "stuff." So with that in mind, here are some things that are a real waste.

Another Travel Mug

One travel mug is cool, but a working mom doesn't need 56 of them. Through my years of working away from home, I accumulated at least a dozen on-the-go coffee mugs in every variety imaginable. Plastic, metal, collapsible — have them all, and I really wish I didn't. So really, thanks, but no thanks.

A Piece Of Dangling Jewelry

When I went back to work I was helping people purchase shoes they liked and that fit. I wore comfortable athletic gear and running shoes, and it was awesome. There was a lot of bending and reaching, though, so in no way would I want or need a long necklace or teardrop earrings.

Even if you have a desk job in a professional environment, jewelry is also personal, and maybe some working moms don't want the pressure of wearing a weird bracelet they didn't buy, or pick out, themselves. But feel free to hand over the cash you would've used to buy said jewelry. I promise that wouldn't be a waste.

A Planner

If you're a working mom, chances are you either already have a planner, several planners, or — like me — go through packs of Post-Its like it's your job and stick them on top of the various planners you own. I appreciate the sentiment in giving a gift like this, and I understand the giver is quietly hoping I "get more organized," but, for me, existing with a certain amount of chaos in my life is the way I feel organized.

Plus, a planner is a personal purchase. They're all different, and some will be more helpful to other people depending on how they like to remain organized. Unless I've asked for one, better leave this kind of thing for me to buy my damn self.

Inspirational Anything

I have a few things in my possession that reference "hope" or tell me I should be "dreaming big," and occasionally I look at them and they remind me to take a breath. But for the most part, though, I don't need some inspirational poster or whatever. I'll find inspiration whenever and wherever I feel like it.


I didn't need dress pants for my job and other moms don't need running shorts. You could get the sizing wrong, and honestly, just save your cash. I even have a stack of t-shirts I don't wear, given by various people who were probably just trying to be kind. But a person's wardrobe is a matter of personal taste, so please don't assume you know mine.

A Key Chain

Are keychains still a thing? Yes. Yes they are. And no, I don't want another thing hanging from my key ring.

Tickets To Anything

The last thing I feel like doing after work is going to an event for which you've already pre-purchased my entry. I want to get home to my kids, lay around in my bath robe, and let my naturally introverted self take over. If you must spend your money on something for a working mom, try investing in anything that makes her home life easier (groceries, gift cards, gas money), because I assure you — those things will get used.

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