Earlier this year (blog post February 8th, 2015, entitled “Will you accept the challenge?”) I challenged my blog readers to join with me in trying to incorporate random acts of kindness into our weekly lives. I hoped that these acts would become so ingrained into our value system that they were no longer ‘random’. They would be just our automatic response when we go about living our daily life.
There is a fantastic website called “Pennies of Time” (www.penniesoftime.com) that has been such an encouragement to me. Sheila, the founder, embodies this by having a lifestyle of doing at least one act of kindness each day. I encourage you to take a look at her site and find some simple strategies that you can immediately implement into your family’s life. Just this week, Sheila commenced mentoring me for 8 weeks on incorporating acts of kindness into our family’s life. Just the initial survey was exciting as we realised that the more we are kind to others, the less fighting we can expect between siblings etc. (Although I’m sure that that is not an issue in your household!!)
One of the ideas I found on her site was the concept of ‘busy bags’. It involves making up Ziploc bags with a page of stickers, 3-4 blank colouring pages and 3-4 crayons/coloured pencils in each one. They are then delivered to an Emergency Department of a hospital to be given out to children who come unexpectedly into hospital. It is a great concept that can help distract and keep the child busy, even for just 20-30 minutes. After having numerous trips to our local hospital’s Emergency Department over the years, I can vouch that 20-30 minutes of distracted time is a huge help for me.
Thus, our family undertook to make up 150 of these bags. We enlisted the support of 3 other home schooling families so that the kids could stock the bags and have fun at the same time. We had been to the $2 discount shop and bought numerous colouring books which we cut down the spine to separate the pages, packets of crayons and packets of stickers. We also had a stack of blank A4 paper to put several sheets in with each pack as well. The Ziploc bags were found in the local Woolworth’s grocery store. (Just a note – God gives back so much more than what we give out. A small way that we noticed this was that we had bought over 130 ziploc bags and the price was getting a bit expensive, but we believed that it was going to make an impact so we were prepared to spend $100 on this whole project. Several weeks later, the kids and hubby were invited to a chocolate taste testing for a chocolate factory to be held at the local kids club that our kids are a part of. For hubby’s involvement, they gave him a Woolworths voucher and at least 7 packets of Ziploc bags!!)
Into each ziploc bag we placed 3 different coloured crayons, 3 colouring sheets, a sheet of stickers, and 2 blank pages of paper. We made up bags specific to young and older girls, young and older boys and also a number suitable for either. We then put all the bags into a cardboard box and visited the local Emergency Room at the Frankston Hospital. My 2 children and myself were the only ones out of the 4 families who ended up making the visit. I must admit that I was a little wary of the reception. I am a Registered Nurse who has worked in hospitals for the last 30 years and a lot depends on the first person you meet and their attitude on the day.
Well, we were totally in for a surprise. I thought that they would be grateful but I was not prepared for how grateful. The staff were ecstatic. They were ‘gobsmacked’ initially and couldn’t believe that anyone would do that. Once they realised the enormity of how this would assist them in helping distract the children coming through the waiting room, they frantically searched around for the hospital photographer. They wanted our address and phone details to be able to send a thank you and they wanted a photo to share widely.
This was a great moment for my children who had been a bit reluctant, not about the bags, but about the actual visit and the expected reception from the hospital staff. They were totally amazed at the difference it can make to the atmosphere in the waiting room.
Fellow parents, I encourage you to think outside the square. I encourage you to make time in your life to do acts of kindness like this. Acts of kindness that can hugely impact someone else’s life in a positive manner. The huge bonus is the impact and effect it has on your own child’s life.
I encourage you to start to brainstorm as a family – “what can we do this next week to help someone else?” In mentoring me, Sheila from “Pennies of Time” has challenged our family to spend this first week being kind to each other and to make it fun. Thus, each night we are drawing out of a hat another family member’s name and the following day trying to go out of our way to be so kind to them. The following night, everyone has to guess who the person was who was being kind to them. We then pick a name for the next day. Matey (9) is winning so far as he really goes out of his way to be extra kind, thus we all want him to ‘pick’ our name for the following day!!
I would love to hear what you are going to do this next week. Feel free to write in the comments section below or send an email. Thanks.