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23 ways to Teach Your Kids Kindness This Holiday Season

JOYTO THE WoRLD

We are our children’s biggest role models in how to grow up to be good humans. Yet in our running around, hectic scheduled mayhem that is so common today, we just might be teaching them the wrong set of values.

Teaching your kids how to be kind (now and in every day) is an important part of modelling as a parent. As the world shifts and changes, more than ever it is important to teach your kids kindness as a crucial part of their core set of values.

The holidays can be crazy for sure but it is also the most wonderful time of year. It is a time to be grateful, to spread joy, to embrace the holiday spirit and most importantly to be kind.

I know, I know, there is so much going on but TRUST ME, being kind is super easy.

This year we brainstormed WITH our kids on what we could do to be kind this holiday season and this is what they came up with.

 Teach Your Kids To Be Kind By Getting Them Involved

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Take the time to tell someone how they have impacted your life, send a thank you note, or share a sweet sentiment to make someone’s day.

Save your pop can tops

Bless her heart, my grandmother would berate us if we didn’t take the pop can tops off for the countless years we were growing up. I actually didn’t think they still did this anymore but March of Dimes indeed does collect pop (& beer) can tops to purchase mobility items for those in need.

Donate money to the food bank

Did you know that food banks/soup kitchens are most often able to secure up to 4X the amount of food as you are purchasing from the grocery store? Many people will donate what they haven’t used in their cupboards. Canned goods (while still food), often lack the nutritional value a family needs to stay healthy. Consider what you donate. Giving money AND food is a great way to help provide fresh produce to families in need.

Make a friend

Friendship can be a difficult challenge for many kids growing up. Encouraging your kids to be fully aware of what is going on around them, to look out for kids who might be alone and actively seek out people to help or sit with can have an absolutely HUGE impact on another kid.

Listen to a friend

Social media is not your way of keeping in touch with important friends. That is and always will be the highlights of their lives. Check in, visit, and be present. Ask and truly listen to a friend who might need to talk a bit over the holidays.

You can make a friend anywhere you go, as long as you try.

Give money/Buy extra coffee/sandwiches and deliver them on the street

I have many friends who disagree with the belief in providing money and food to those in need. Yeah. No. No one, not one person, has ever asked for a fate of trying to stay warm out in the freezing cold without a roof over their heads or knowing where their next meal is coming from. No one ever. We have all taken wrong turns in our lives. For some that wrong turn has gone further down a path than others. For others, mental health issues have prevented them from maintaining a job or relationships or even providing the capacity to take care of themselves.  You never know anyone else’s story. Find the compassion in your heart to imagine how difficult this must be. Don’t judge. Just give.

Volunteer at a soup kitchen

We have been working with the kids on the concept of “jump to help”. Don’t wait to be told, offer up your help wherever possible. Spread joy & strike up conversations with patrons who are visiting this service. Nothing is more valuable than human connection.

The kids had the best time volunteering at a Mission and became fast friends with the people they were working with.

Hold the door open

Such an easy idea can really brighten someone’s day & in turn put them in a mindset to pay it forward as well.

Learn someone’s name

Whether its your barista, server, retail clerk or even the homeless person you meet on the street, dignity is everything. It’s such a simple thing but asking someone their name can often mean the world. It acknowledges them and shows them the respect they deserve.

Pay for someone’s coffee or meal

Next time you are at drive through, consider paying it forward by covering the order behind you. It is such a nice delight and usually starts a chain reaction of kindness.

Offer to help wrap presents

Older neighbours or friends who might feel challenges with arthritis or body pain might find it difficult to wrap gifts. Do it for them while having a visit and a cup of tea.

Hug someone

Hugs are the best. Seriously, if I could just offer free hugs at the mall to everyone (especially those who look Grinchy) I would. Hugs release oxytocin in a squeeze and have massive, awesome medical benefits. Not only does it help lower heart rates and reduce blood pressure, it also decreases stress hormones. Who doesn’t need a hug?

Bake or cook for your neighbours & friends

Sometimes putting time in to bring joy to others is the best kind of kindness you can share. Prepping a meal or providing baked goods to someone having visitors over the holidays is a great way to get your kids involved in considering the value of community.

Offer to take kids

I always say to our friends, more is actually easier. I love the bustle of kids running through the house and it allows us to have quality time with people we care about. Dropping off kids allows our kids to think of ways to entertain and allows our adult friends to go Christmas shopping or have a nice, quiet dinner out without concern of running home while the babysitter meter is ticking.

Fill the school library with books that support important dialogues

As the world is shifting, we still have so much to learn. Gifting a book to the library as part of your holiday plans helps to create dialogue on a number of important issues. Indigenous history & reconciliation, world religions, sexual identity, self-esteem, bullying and building respect are all topics that could use more accessible literature within our schools.

Get social in real life. Encourage kids to say Hi & smile.

Challenge your kids to meet someone new. I think in our over-concern of stranger danger, we have created a lot of nervousness in our kids. We have been focusing instead on being aware of your surroundings and trusting your gut. It is important for our kids to learn how to be social and a smile is one of the best kind of “viral” sensations you can create.

These lovely ladies were super awesome to volunteer beside and treated the kids with such kindness.

Stop by the fire, police or nurses station with baking or treats

Shift work is killer over the holidays. Many emergency/medical occupations miss out on their own family Christmas to provide care for others. Stopping by with kindness shows kids how we need each other in a community to function & flow. To show our gratitude & appreciation for those who watch over our world.

Clean someone’s driveway/Bring garbage cans up from the street

Especially as it gets colder, helping neighbours who could potentially slip and fall is an easy kindness to do every week. A wonderful task to get your kids involved in and seeing the importance of considering others in your every day.

Wash someone’s windows at the gas station

Its one of our son’s favourite things to do (& as long as he gets permission) he loves washing the windows around the gas station.

Stop by a seniors home

Often times seniors don’t have people coming to visit as much as they would like, need to get to appointments or would like to go to the store but don’t have the mobility to get there. A simple conversation and company can go a long way. A drive to somewhere they need to go could be an absolute dream.

Take a treat in to teacher/mechanic/hairstylist/doctor/dentist/service provider

A nice surprise that says “We appreciate you” will often make the team at any of these places smile.

Donate unexpected items to drop off at shelters

Consider donating products like diapers, new underwear, tampons, pads, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, even toilet paper can be welcome stock to share.

Spread Kindness & Joy

In any way you can.

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Kids CornerTravel

Did You Know The Incas Were Thought To Be the Sons of the Sun?

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Fun Facts for Kids from Around the World

Spencer Says:

…..Guatamala, Bolivia then Argentina, and Ecuador, Chile and Brazil!!

Are you a lover of Animaniacs? Because I am! I learned all the countries of the world from one of their videos called “The Nations of The World”. It’s pretty cool since we are travelling the world as a family and have been in a number of those countries and learning new things. 
One of those countries is PERU where we visited Machu Picchu.
Did you know that Machu Picchu is the home of the Incas and known to be the sacred place of the sun?
The Incas were the “sons of the sun”. Get it? Lol.

 

They were a culture a long time ago in the 1400’s who were very smart and made really cool buildings. The incas were a conquering tribe, whose empire stretched across modern day Peru, Columbia, Bolivia, Chile and Ecuador.

According to the Inca’s, the sun gave life. When they built their city it was based on the sun’s positioning against the mountains to determine the seasons, the orientation to ensure maximum sunlight, the moon and the stars.

The Inca’s were super good at farming and agriculture. The levels you see at Machu Picchu are called terraces they used for gardening. Coca leaves, peanuts, potatoes, chilli peppers, sweet potato, passion fruit, avocados, apples, tomatoes and other foods were all grown there. 

 

 

We have learned a lot about farming in Peru. Terraces are very different than what we have at home in Canada
We have learned a lot about farming in Peru. Terraces are very different than what we have at home in Canada
There was a time when the Spaniards (who were called Conquistadores) came to take over the land but because Machu Picchu is high up in the mountains, they never found them. However, the Inca’s and their culture still got destroyed during that time and that was the end of the road for them.
The city of Maccu Picchu was lost for 460 years, discovered in 1911 by a professor from Yale, named Hiram Bingham. Can you believe there was only one piece of gold found after its discovery? Someone had gotten there first!
Did you know that Hiram Bingham was sponsored by National Geographic on the expedition to Machu Picchu which is SO NEAT because we are National Geographic Kids Ambassadors!!! I really love researching stuff with them and especially like facts about Blue Whales, Airplanes and cool places to go. 
Hiram Bingham FOUND Machu Picchu as part of a National Geographic Expedition!!!!!!!!!
Hiram Bingham FOUND Machu Picchu as part of a National Geographic Expedition!!!!!!!!!
Today, Maccu Picchu welcomes over 3 million visitors every year, and must work to make sure that the site is taken care of and not effected by too many people. We don’t want the ruins to get ruined!
Spencer LOVED climbing around the ruins (WHERE ALLOWED :)
Spencer LOVED climbing around the ruins (WHERE ALLOWED 🙂

Spencer is 10 years old and 1/2 of the Cuppa Kids part of this family. He has a heart is full of gold and because of his Autism, sees the world so differently than most. He believes there is so much good out there and everyone is meant to be kind and friends. His passions include this trip, airplanes (especially the Airbus A380), family & friends. Spencer’s curiosity, generosity and kindness has won the hearts of many a person we encounter as we travel. We joke about creating the #SpencerFanClub but there really and truly is one starting to emerge.

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Family MattersKids CornerReal Life

What We Learned This Summer – The Science of Being Busy

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Summer was good. Really good.

I don’t know if it’s because we are leaving soon but this summer felt very special.

Like we had done something right.  We had figured out the science of busy, but this summer spent time in a whole new classroom and this is what we learned.

The importance of letting go of BUSY

We have all been guilty of “being busy”. That busy easily creates when we are just so fucking tired we have to cancel on dinner/lunch/coffee/drinks/get togethers/theatre dates/you name it. More often than not that busy stems from the work you are doing, not the fun you are having. So here’s a stinker: If tomorrow is your funeral, do you think anyone is going to stand up and say “They did a great job of being busy”? No. They will not.

Being active was a key priority
Being active was a key priority

Society has taught us that busy behaviour. Now it seems, everything needs to be scheduled, plans need to be made, children constantly are asking to be amused. (How many of you were ready to push your kids in the lake if they asked one more time, what should we do now?) We are busy monsters who have created busy monsters. We are so ingrained in doing instead of being that it feels like a guilty pleasure to just relax for a second.

This spring, we made the decision to not schedule the kids for anything. Not one single parks & rec program or camp. Slowing the pace down and simply enjoying time together was one of the most difficult & most rewarding parts of this summer. It took a shift in perspective to make all the difference. Here I was so concerned about the “should” and doing stuff that I was missing out. Missing out on the point that giving the people I was with my undivided attention was ACTUALLY what I was supposed to be doing. When the people became the focus, the gratitude came along with it. We made it our intention to carve out time with good friends, and to relish in making memories with them.

Memories like these will last a lifetime for these two
Memories like these will last a lifetime for these two

We learned: The value of time (& how precious it is). Appreciation of good friends and how important they are to your life. Being in the now. Being an active listener allows us to truly connect deeply in conversations & dialogue. 

Nothing is at it seems on social media

I have to admit the dew fell off the rose a bit when I learned that an instagrammer that I really admired ran their photos through 6 different photo and filtering apps before they publish. Yes, they are beautiful and largely because of those filters but I am really enjoying the raw parts of life these days.

Facebook updates account for very little of real life. It is so easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing & Facebook knows that. That’s why they give you all kinds of algorithmic sponsored content that completely freak you out and start those “should” feelings again pretty fast.

Social can be a place for bullies, opinions, and tormentors. The content can lead to misunderstanding when how it is read differs from how it was intended to be read. I have may have alienated some friends because we have differing political, gender and race views. So be it. Dialogue is important, essential in fact, but there will always be someone with a different opinion.

Social accounts for 1% of someone’s life. There are so many layers below the surface that its important to remember that you never know anyone else’s story. Take time to connect on a deeper level. This summer was an odd one in which people shared so many stories that seemed completely counter to what they were posting online. Many times there were cries for help and a deep sense of sadness lurking beneath the surface of the happy public posts.

We learned: Don’t believe the hype. It’s important to speak your voice to support causes you believe in. Compassion, for us, is at the core of our value system and one exercised deeply this summer. 

Father & son moments that will catch you right in the throat
Father & son moments that will catch you right in the throat

You are what you eat.

I know of already knew this one. No truer is that statement than after a summer delightfully full of Coronas, G  & T’s, Prosecco, Sangria, Backyard BBQ, Late night chips over Sequence at the cottage and patio lunches with friends. It has been an absolutely fabulous summer and we enjoyed it all. No regrets.

We learned: Not to be angry with ourselves. September is our chance to reset. Healthy, clean eating is on the menu. Daily workouts are a focus for us to work towards getting stronger. 

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Other things I learned this summer

  • Being open, honest & candid about one’s life can be actually one of the most freeing things in the world
  • Gratitude fills you up fuller than any meal
  • Giving back & paying it forward are two of the most important lessons we can teach
  • Nature is the best playground to play in
  • Taking on a challenge and seeing it through can give you a HUGE sense of accomplishment & a big dose of what were you thinking
  • That I like to Soca dance but can’t get my hips moving the way I want them to (see: Whining)
  • Music can bring a country together and that saying goodbye to The Tragically Hip kind of felt like an official goodbye to my youth
  • Recovery takes a lot longer than I realized (& I suck at patience)
  • Finally getting a breast reduction after so many years of thinking about it makes me wonder what took me so long?
  • Asking for help has been one of my biggest challenges.
  • I have an amazing husband and friends who when you actually ASK for help are SO there
  • Time really doesn’t stand still for anyone. Waiting for something to happen holds you back on enjoying what’s happening now.
  • Life is beautiful.
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