We are so excited to kick off our new series on Random Acts of Kindness. Each week a different blogger will share about a day that they and their little ones dedicated to committing random acts of kindness.
Readers will have a chance to share their own experiences with committing random acts of kindness on our Facebook page, to be a part of our final series post on December 19.
Visit the main Random Acts of Kindness Challenge page for a full schedule of the posts in this series.
Random Acts of Kindness Day: All Done Monkey
I was inspired to create this series by an amazing post about a blogger who dedicated her birthday to committing random acts of kindness. I wanted to modify her inspiring idea to make it practical for stay-at-home moms of young children by 1) creating activities that would be appropriate for little ones, and 2) creating activities that could be done on a limited budget. The number of activities we did was considerably less than those that she did, but I wanted to keep it fun and not overwhelming for me or my Monkey.
My message to you, gentle reader, is that if this pregnant lady and her toddler can do a Random Acts of Kindness Day then so can you!
The two main activities we did were giving out cards and delivering homemade cookies. Both required prep work ahead of our actual day, but I knew they would be activities my Monkey would enjoy and that would be on his level.
So two days prior I spread a drop cloth on the kitchen floor (it was raining outside), and we pulled out the paints. My Monkey has so much fun painting, and I enjoyed seeing him create. My main job was to continually provide him with blank paper, so that he wouldn’t layer all of the paint in one single spot. Nothing wrong with his aesthetic, but I had a mass production goal 😉
Once his artwork was dry, I cut the pieces in half, folded them into cards, and wrote a message inside. For groups like the library staff, I wrote, “Thank you for all your hard work!” For our neighbors, it was “Have a nice day!” while I included a more personal message for family members.
Step two was to make cookies. I had previously contacted the manager of our local library branch about our project, and luckily she mentioned that one of their staff couldn’t eat eggs. Hmm, that eliminated most of my cookie recipes! Luckily, I have a sister who is not only vegan but an amazing cook, and she turned me on to Post Punk Kitchen, a wonderful vegan cooking website.
I used their Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, although trust me, these are so rich that you really don’t need to add the chocolate chips. (Bonus tip: One great thing about making vegan cookies is that because there are no eggs you can eat the dough without guilt! Okay, not exactly true because these cookies are so decadent, but at least you don’t have to worry about getting salmonella from raw eggs – always a plus!)
So when we awoke on the Big Day, the cards and plates of cookies were packed, along with other assorted goodies we were going to pass out.
Here is how our day went:
- Our most important act of kindness was the first one, when my Monkey delivered his handmade card to his daddy, along with a big kiss and hug. No one is more deserving of some extra kindness!
- My act of kindness to my Monkey was not to rush him out the door, as I am so prone to do when I have an agenda for the day. I let him enjoy playing while I gathered together last minute things and tidied up the kitchen. Afterwards I let him enjoy a really fun, splashy bath. As a result, we didn’t actually leave the house until almost 10 am, but it was worth it, since we were both much more relaxed and happy.
- Before we drove out, we walked to the mail box to leave a special treat for our mail carrier. I wasn’t sure how long our gift would be sitting in the mailbox (as it turned out, we had missed the daily delivery, so the mail carrier didn’t get our gift until the next day), so I was hesitant to leave homemade cookies. Plus since we had never met in person I was afraid s/he would be nervous about accepting homemade treats. So instead, we left a gift box of chocolates, along with one of my Monkey’s cards. Several days later we received a really sweet card in return, letting us know that our gift really brightened up her day!
- As we were about to leave the house, I saw that one of our next door neighbors was home, so we hurried over to deliver our cookies. We often wave when we pass in the street but haven’t really spoken much beyond this, so I was especially glad to build that relationship.
- Finally, we were on the road. Our first stop was the doctor’s office. The folks in the office are really wonderful, so I was glad to have my Monkey – whom they have known since he was a few days old – deliver some cookies and a card to them. I was also happy to have him make a “social” visit, to reinforce the fact that the doctor’s office isn’t a scary place but one filled with people that help us.
- Next, we tried our local fire station, but no one answered the door when we rang the bell, so we hopped back in the car to return later.
- Then we were off to the grocery store, where we mailed cards to both sets of grandparents. We speak to them on the phone or over Skype on a fairly regular basis, so I thought sending a card through the mail would be something special.
- Lunch break! It was time to head back to the house and have some lunch and then quiet time.
- Afterwards, it was back in the car to try the fire station again. Monkey was so excited when a firefighter answered the door and graciously accepted the card and plate of cookies. My Monkey is obsessed with firefighters and fire trucks, so it was a real treat for him to make this delivery.
- Next up, the library! I made sure most of our deliveries were to places we visit often, so that my Monkey could really understand the connection between the service these folks do for us and the kindness we were trying to show to them today. The library definitely falls in this category, as we visit quite often. First we went to the Friends of the Library store. These wonderful volunteers help keep the library running smoothly despite budget cuts, in part by operating a used bookstore inside the library. After we delivered our cookies and card, I let Monkey play with the toys in their kids’ corner while I rummaged through the used children’s books to find ones we could deliver to the children’s hospital later in the afternoon. I was able to buy all of the books pictured here – all in great condition – for only $6!
- On the way into the main library, my Monkey personally delivered a cookie from our plate to the security guard. He is a great guy and someone we frequently see, so this was a delightful exchange to witness.
- Once in the library, we delivered cookies and a card to the main checkout desk. As luck would have it, the librarian on duty was one of those that has been there since the branch first opened. She always remarks on how big Monkey is getting and loves to hear what he is up to, so I was thrilled that she was the one we got to deliver our treats to.
- In the children’s section, we left a box of stickers on the counter for the other kids to take.
- Our last stop in the car was the furthest out – the downtown children’s hospital. I had spoken earlier to the head of volunteers, who advised me on where to take our donation. So we didn’t actually go to the hospital itself but to a small office across the street, where the volunteer coordinator accepted our gift of books that we had bought earlier in the day as well as candy. (Again, because of the location, I wasn’t sure that homemade cookies would be appropriate). I had been careful to get items that came individually wrapped, so that there wouldn’t be an issue of having multiple people sharing out of a single box. I left it to the coordinator to decide whether to give the treats to the volunteers, the kids, or leave them in a family waiting room. We had packed another box of stickers to deliver as well, but I couldn’t for the life of me find them when we arrived, so we had to skip it. Several weeks later, they still haven’t turned up! Hopefully someone somewhere is enjoying them – talk about a random act of kindness!
- When we arrived home, the car was in the driveway of our other neighbor’s house, so we tried to deliver our cookies, but there was no answer. Perhaps they were just busy, but I have to wonder if they simply didn’t answer the door. This is just a sad fact of life today, that many people (ourselves included) often don’t answer the door unless we are expecting someone, because otherwise it is usually a salesperson or a politician. In any case, it was nearly time for dinner and then bed for Monkey, so I didn’t attempt to deliver to the neighbors again. Instead, we gave the remaining cookies to friends at a playgroup the next day, which was also fun to do.
This is definitely something I would like to do with my Monkey again, and I look forward to his level of participation evolving as he grows. For now, these low-key activities were just our speed. It was a full day, but we had fun along the way and weren’t totally exhausted by the end.
Because of this project, I was also much more aware of the kindness others showed to us as just a routine part of our interactions – whether it was waiting for us to get into or out of the car, waiting for us to cross the street, taking time to talk with Monkey, letting him hand over an item to be rung up at the register, and so on. The truth is that when you have small children – and especially if you are also pregnant – you are much more likely to be on the receiving end of acts of kindness. Which, frankly, is how it should be. I believe that there are times in life when you can do more for others and times when you are more focused on yourself and your family, and that is just the natural flow of things.
And while some people may find it a stretch, I would include on the above list a final, ongoing item – giving others the opportunity to commit random acts of kindness. I really believe this is true, and by the reactions we got from everyone we came across, they were happy to do something nice for us. After all, who couldn’t be charmed by an adorable toddler (especially when he is in a good mood!), and aren’t people always happy to help a pregnant woman? Knowing how happy it made us to commit our acts of kindness, I’d like to think that those that helped us out that day (and all those who do so everyday) got some joy from their acts of kindness as well.
So be fearless as you go out and commit your own random acts of kindness, but also be reassured that when you let someone do a kindness for you, that is just another way of spreading joy!
This post has been shared at the weekly Kid’s Co-op.