Kindness Project Status

Our Kindness Jar Project is off to a better start than I anticipated. I was worried that we would get behind after four days and I would give up on the endeavor completely, but it’s actually proven to be a fun daily task (for the most part). The first day was a little rough, as Olive had difficulty getting excited about the project when she discovered that the activities on the papers were not actually FOR her (which is part of the reason why this is important). I also had to remind myself mentally on more than one occasion that my kids are four and two and they’re not going to understand the concepts of why this is important yet and that’s ok. But I’m still glad we’re trying to make this a part of our holiday tradition because I’m hoping that when they’re a little older the concept of giving and being kind as a learned trait will become more second nature and they will be just as excited to do some of these activities that they were this year.

These are the activities we’ve completed so far as they appear on the slip of paper. Some of them are small acts like helping each other out or spending extra time together and being present together or small activities that help them learn about the idea of kindness and giving back to others. Others are more charitable acts like helping neighbors, friends, or giving back to an organization. I’ve included links and pictures for some of the activities as well.

There are many men, women, and families that do not have a home in San Diego. That means that they often don’t have things we use every day like fresh drinking water, soap, snacks, and clean clothes. Help mommy make “blessing bags” to keep in the car so that when we see people asking for help while we are out we have a way to help, no matter where we are!

I went to the Dollar Tree for most of the items for the blessing bags and Target for some extra toiletries and snacks. We filled six bags with items like toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, hand sanitizer, tissues, cleansing wipes, tylenol, protein bars, trail mix, etc. The idea of people being homeless and without basic supplies were still a little over their head but they had fun putting the bags together.

There are many children around the world who are less fortunate than we are. This means they may not always get a lot of presents under their Christmas tree this year. Help give another little girl and boy a very merry Christmas by helping mommy and daddy put together care packages with little toys and goodies for two special little kids. Just imagine the smile you will be putting on their faces!

We had originally been planning to participate in Operation Christmas Child as we had last year, but when we pulled this slip of paper and I went online I realized we missed the drop off deadline already (oops), so we decided to donate to Toys for Tots instead. We were already on base running errands so we stopped by the NEX, let each of them pick out one toy (and spend an extra fifteen minutes checking out all the toys of course) and then after checking out, each of them dropped their toy into the donation box. I was actually really surprised at how well both girls did with this activity. They were siked to pick out a toy for someone else and Olive understood from the outset that she would not be taking any toys home with her and she didn’t seem phased by this in the least.

You have so many toys! There are a lot of children who are less fortunate than we are and one of the best ways we can give back and spread kindness is to donate some of our play things to others to help share our joy! Help mommy go through the toys in your play room and bedroom and pick out the toys you no longer play with and that you think would make another little boy and girl happy. Just think about how happy they will be to have some of these toys as their very own!

This one went much better than anticipated. Olive was very excited to help out other kids and picked out a lot of toys to donate. What surprised me was the fact that she absolutely refused to part with the small cheap toys she had gotten from Happy Meals, as party favors, or in blind bags but was quick to pick out some of the more expensive toys that we had given her at her last birthday (which I had to veto). But we gave away some great toys that didn’t get played with much any more and I felt like the mom from Toy Story and secretly wondered if all of my kids’ toys are living a secret life and are petrified of me shoving them in a box.

Mommy works very hard every day. Let’s bring a smile to her face and be extra kind by helping her pickup your bedroom, playroom, and the toys in the living room to help her out today.

This was one of the more difficult tasks that Olive really didn’t want to participate in. She didn’t want to pick up her play room and what should’ve been a twenty minute task, turned into a 45 minute task with a lot of yelling and crying and tears from both parties (yea, I’m clearly not bitter AT ALL).

One of the best ways to show kindness is by spending time together. Let’s have a family game night together! Pick two games we can play together!

We ended up just playing one game: Kerplunk! This ended up being a very fun way to spend time together. We’ve had the game for awhile, but don’t play it very often because it’s one of those activities that takes a lot of setup and the kids finish the game in thirty seconds because they refuse to take turns pulling the sticks out and just want to see the balls fall.

Grandma and Grandpa live very far away and we don’t get to see them very often. Let’s make their holiday brighter today by making them a homemade gift and sending it to them in the mail!

This is the ONE task that we are behind in…it’s a work in progress!

There are a lot of animals that need homes but unfortunately we can’t adopt any of them. Instead, help mommy and daddy pick out a wild animal to adopt online!

We adopted a LION!!! In all honesty, part of me wanted to take the kids to an animal shelter and pick a real animal to give a forever home to but our house is at capacity with an enormous dog and two cats. The plan is to learn more about the “lion” we adopted by learning about lions once the pamphlet and poster come in the mail.

Let’s be kind to a friend today. We haven’t seen our friend Chris in awhile. Let’s write him a nice letter and send it to him in the mail so he can get a nice surprise.

This also turned out to be a process because while Olive was super excited to pick out a page from her coloring book for her friend from preschool and color it and decorate it with stickers she absolutely did not want to write him a letter and did not want me to  write one either. No amount of me explaining how bizarre it will be to JUST receive a partially colored paw patrol page in the mail with no motivation for sending it would persuade her that including a letter was a good idea. I finally wrote one any ways and told her what it said and took her stony silence as compliance.

Let’s learn about kindness today! Have an extra special story time with a “Kindness” theme with Mommy and Daddy today!

I’m fully aware that these acts of kindness are a big concept for my kids regardless of how simple I’m trying to keep them. I thought having a day where we learn about kindness through story time might help to begin cementing some of these ideas in an age appropriate way. Here are the books I chose to include:

A Sick Day for Amos McGee

The Giving Tree

Last Stop on Market Street

Pay it forward today! Let’s go through the Starbucks drive thru for coffee and goodies with Mommy and we will get the tab for the people behind us too!

Yesterday, I waited for it to get dark outside, loaded the kids in the car with blankets and frosted sugar cookies and we went through the Starbucks drive thru so I could get coffee and the kids could get chocolate milk with whipped cream and we hit up the local neighborhoods in our are that are famous for their holiday light display. I made sure to pay for the people behind us and explained to the kids about the concept of “paying it forward” and that hopefully the people behind us would do the same. The kids had a great time “Ohhhing and Ahhing” the twinkly lights and loading up on sweets in their comfy clothes and listening to holiday music on the radio. Definitely a fun Sunday activity!

Above All Else, Be Kind

Tomorrow is December 1st. Yikes.

The last few holidays have been especially fun because of my children and each year I try to add a new holiday tradition to make that year special. Some traditions we keep up every year, like baking my granny’s famous sugar cookies (recipe at the end of the post), taking holiday pictures of the kids that become photo cards, and picking a charity or organization to contribute to. Others end up getting scrapped because I suck at hosting ugly sweater parties and I never have enough AA batteries to keep the Christmas train turned on for the entire month of December.

This is the first year that I’ve felt the kids were old enough that I really want to introduce them to the “giving back” part of the season. I don’t want the holidays to be just about what we put under the tree, baking cookies, and opening and exchanging presents. We are not a religious family so we don’t put “Christ” in “Christmas,” we don’t do Santa or Elf on the Shelf. I want the holidays to be about the time we spend together, but also about how we spend that time.  I may fail at all other parts of being a parent, but the one thing I want to do right is to instill in my children the importance of kindness. Kindness not only to each other, but to our friends, our neighbors and strangers we meet every day as well as the ones we may never meet.

It’s in that vein that I’m starting a new holiday tradition. I’m creating a Kindness Jar that will have 23 separate acts of kindness written on slips of paper inside of it. Starting on December 1st and ending on December 23rd, I will let the kids take turns picking one piece of paper each day and we will do whatever act is listed together. Some of the activities are much more involved and hands on (like creating care packages to donate or for our friends or neighbors) and others are more simple (like making Daddy a welcome home sign with sidewalk chalk before he comes home from work). The idea is that the kids will learn different ways they can choose kindness, spread joy, and pay it forward. Hopefully it will become something we practice and learn together and eventually become ingrained into their thinking as adults.

I was originally going to list all of the acts in this post in case anyone wanted ideas, but many of them are surprises for our friends and family so I don’t want to ruin the surprise! I’ve included some links below to some of the websites that I used for inspiration and ideas in case any one is interested. I would also like to give a shout out to Amber Leventry at her Family Rhetoric page for inspiring the Kindness Jar idea.  I will be recording our experience with the Kindness Jar project right here on the blog so I will include the acts and photos in my subsequent posts as they unfold. Stay tuned!

Inspiration for Kindness Jars: 

70 Easy Acts of Kindness

100 Acts of Kindness for Kids

Symbolic Animal Adoption

Supporting the Deployed

Beach Cleanups

Kindness Themed Story Time

Granny’s Sugar Cookies:

1 c. softened butter
3.5 c. sifted flour
1.5 c. sugar
2 tsp. cream of tarter
3 eggs
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt.
Directions: cream butter and vanilla, sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time. Sift together dry ingredients and gradually add. Use ungreased cookie sheets in preheated 375 degree oven for 6-8 minutes
On a side note, you’ll want to chill the dough in the fridge before rolling out. The dough tends to be sticky on the out set that’s normal. Just knead a little flour gradually as you work it until you get it to the point where you can roll it without sticking. Roll out semi-thin so when they cook the edges will brown slightly (that’s how granny did it). It took me a LONG time to get it even semi right so if it turns out like biscuits the first time don’t be frustrated (cause mine did) Also the dough freezes well if you want to thaw out and make for easter too (that’s why we always had bunny cookies in April :))