“Who are those cookies for?,” asked my youngest.
I responded, “they are for (my friend)’s friend. She’s not feeling well. Remember when I was in the hospital and people brought us things? That was very kind of them, and now we are doing something kind for someone else.”
“What will we get for bringing the cookies?”
Ding! Ding! Ding! My teachable moment parenting alarm started going off in my head. In the recent months, I’ve tended to avoid such alerts in favor of taking things easy. I went as far as to tell a friend that I had made a conscious decision not to parent my oldest child any longer, but that’s for another post. While packing up peanut butter cookies, I heard the teachable moment sirens and decided to answer the call.
I have always talked a big game about kindness. My kids will be the first to tell you that more than anything I want them to grow up to be kind. There are quotes about kindness hanging all over my house, and stay calm and be kind is the mantra I turn to in my toughest parenting moments. (This helps maybe 80% of the time.) Now kindness is en vogue due to the political happenings of late, so I guess I was just on the pulse of the nation. Wink, wink.
But seriously, I think we all try to be kind, but do we succeed? We tell our kids they should be kind, but do they really understand it? Based on conversations like the one above, I’m not sure mine do. So, I’ve decided it is time to back up my kindness talk with some action, and teach and spread kindness by being a spectacular example.
At it’s base, kindness is love. February (the designated love month) is around the corner, and I’m preparing to lead my children on a month of acts of kindness. Some will be random, and some will not. This is not a new concept, and you’ve no doubt heard of it before, but that doesn’t diminish its importance. With a little guidance from me, and inspiration from Pinterest, here is our list of acts of kindness we will try to complete in February.
- Make kindness signs and tack them to community boards
- Pay for someone’s coffee who is in the line behind you
- Send some of the kids’ school projects to friends and family who live far away
- Make paper fortune ‘cookies’ filled with compliments and leave them in random places (library, pizza shop, gymnastics, etc.)
- Leave a thank you note and candy bar in the mailbox for the mail carrier.*
- Make pictures for the local nursing home (we are sending ours to my Grandma’s nursing home.)
- Let someone go ahead of you in line (SO easy for kids to access, but my boys thought this was nuts!)
- Send a care package to a someone you know in college or the military
- Buy a $5 gift card at a store and hand it to someone coming in on your way out.*
- Bring a sheet of stickers to the grocery store and have kids hand them out to other kids.
- Write jokes on a piece of paper and leave it in a random place.
- Send a pizza to a family you know.
- Drop a “get well kit” (tissues, tea, honey, cough drops) outside the door of someone who isn’t feeling well.
- Donate used winter gear (it’s cold here!) to school, shelter, clothing drive, etc
- Bring old towels and blankets to the animal shelter along with a box of dog treats
- Fill a bag for the food pantry. (Consider calling pantry to see what they need.)
- Leave sticky notes on a public bathroom mirror telling people to have a great day.*
- Bake & drop off a plate of cookies at the public library, police station, fire station, etc.
- Hold open doors for people (again easy for kids to do alone).
- Thank a grownup at school for something they do
- Make ‘placemats’ using giant coloring sheets for local Meals on Wheels or senior center.
- Give someone a compliment (bonus points for complimenting your sibling/s).
- Drop bag of lollipops outside someone’s house
- Donate old phones (Several orgs collect these for Domestic Violence survivors and soldiers.)
- Mail cards to someone’s work/office (ex. we are sending some to Daddy’s office.)
- Tape a dollar to a toy for someone to find at the Dollar Store or Target Dollar Bin.
- Bring hot cocoa to the bus stop on cold day
- Shovel a neighbor’s path (kids suggested this, but I think we know who will actually shovel! It’s Daddy.)
It took us about 20 minutes to come up with this list, and the kids were excited (they immediately colored pictures for me to laminate into placemats.) It took much longer to explain to them that they are not “getting” anything (material) in exchange for doing these acts of kindness. For me that is reason enough to make sure we follow through with this kindness challenge. Kindness is important. Kindness is contagious. Kindness is love. I’ve felt the riches of kindness, and I’m ready to spread the wealth and teach my kids what you “get” for being kind in the process.
(*idea courtesy of sunshineandspoons.com)