The days are long, but the years are short, we parents are so often reminded.
But as parents, we already know how fleeting each phase is. Savoring the moment during the hassle of daily life isn't always practical.
That's exactly why we begin planning (and pinning) spring break and summer vacation experiences as early as possible.
Looking back on my family's most magical moments, it's clear they often include a big-hearted component.
If you, like me, are looking for amazing kindness activities to build lasting memories, I have eight suggestions that bring together the very best of my family's Doing Good Together experiences, along with the most popular kindness projects shared among our Membership Circle.
Believe me when I tell you the kindness experiences below will meet the overwhelming majority of your family's goals all at once.
You'll look forward to reminiscing about these for years to come, because they are fun and exciting events to add to your calendar. You'll teach your child important life skills and values with every project.
Plus, you'll be strengthening your child's "empathy muscles."
By giving the same thought to kindness that you would give to other important activities in childhood, you'll be showing kids that compassion deserves a place on your calendar. And you'll be teaching the most important lesson of all.
Kindness isn't an act, it's a lifestyle.
The kindness experiences below have given my own children many essential childhood memories. Most of them have become annual traditions in one form or another.
Here they are. Just follow the links below for instructions, conversation starters, and book suggestions.
I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!
Eight essential kindness experiences to give your child before middle school.
1. Host a Kindness-Themed Party
Everybody loves a party, so why not use kindness as an excuse to gather friends and family?
Host an UnBirthday Party in support of the Birthday Giving Project and ask guests to bring supplies to give children in need a happier birthday.
Host a Card-Making Party and help folks in nursing homes or hospitals celebrate an upcoming holiday with cheer.
Or you could add kindness to your child's birthday with the creative theme ideas in our e-book, 12 Fun, Creative Birthday Parties That Give Back by Rachel Chrastil and Jenny Friedman.
In the process you'll help your children learn how to be a good host and how to plan an event, in addition to learning more about the project you choose to feature.
2. Spend 48 Hours Outside
Time spent in nature benefits everyone. Better still, taking time to notice and enjoy natural wonders will inspire your whole family to protect the earth with renewed commitment.
Visit local parks. Even if you don't intend to sleep outdoors, you can arrange to spend most of your waking hours in nature. Try exploring a few local or state parks you've never visited before. Pack a picnic, a small notebook with a pencil, and a guide book or two. Make observations and ask questions about things you notice along the trail.
While you are there, clean up! Pack a trash bag and some garden gloves. Then take the time to clear any litter you happen across.
Create bird feeders for feathered friends. Be sure to use a biodegradable material like garden twine to hang your birdseed cookies.
Bringing your family together in nature reduces stress, improves concentration, and builds confidence. As spring unfolds around us, make time to get outside!
3. Share Kindness Month-by-Month
For just one year, try participating in a monthly kindness commitment. The consistency and long-term nature of this experience means it will stick with kids longer. Soon, you're whole family will be looking forward to your monthly project.
Try Family-to-Family's One Book at a Time project, where you send monthly books and swap letters with a child in need. Kids love picking out a book for their buddy each month.
Check out The Box Project, which encourages families and individuals living in rural poverty to become self-sufficient by offering them friendship, education, and supplies. As a sponsor, your family will write to your match family and get to know them. About once a month, you’ll send a box of food, clothing, or other supplies.
- If your family enjoys sending cards and letters, you could become a Senior Angel. This unique program will match your family with a senior citizen in need of friendship and correspondence. Your family could commit to sending weekly greetings and small gifts to brighten their day and build a new, intergenerational friendship.
A recurring commitment will help teach your child responsibility, along with empathy as you consider how the recipient of your efforts will feel receiving them. Even better, this act of kindness offers an opportunity to connect with someone living in very different circumstances than your own family.
4. Be a One-Family Book Club
Take your child and your favorite books on a date. Visit a coffee shop, a park, or a favorite restaurant. Don't relegate reading to that exhausted moment before bedtime.
Books are the ultimate tool for families seeking to explore big ideas with children. I've written about this exhaustively, so I'll just leave our latest picture book collections below - each list includes conversation starters.
In case you missed it, check out this recent post for tips to inspire a reluctant reader.
5. Walk for a Cause
Whether you're a fitness guru or - like me - an admirer of fitness gurus, races are memorable opportunities to support a cause your family cares about. There are numerous ways to get involved, from being a racer yourself, to cheering or passing out refreshments during the race. Check out our project page Get Fit for a Cause for more details.
Kids always love the festive atmosphere of a race day. Plus you'll be learning together about your cause, celebrating physical fitness, and gathering together with like-minded folks.
6. Make Your Child Superhero for a Day.
Spend a day following your child's kindness instincts. Let your child pick who and how you help. Make the event fun by encouraging your child to wear a superhero cape and, when your kindness activities are complete, create a homemade comic about your experience.
Try our If I Ran the World worksheet to get started: Imagine your impact and find a way to make it happen!
Once your child is excited by a particular type of kindness activity, help brainstorm different ways to make an impact.
Together, make a plan and see it through.
Kids are always empowered when allowed to take charge of family time. By focusing your energy on helping others, you'll truly help them release their inner hero.
7. Complete a Kindness Challenge.
Dedicate a few minutes a day to targeted acts of kindness.
Take our 30 Days of Kindness Challenge
Try our Summer of Kindness Bucket List
Make your own challenge, for one week, one month, or one super-kindness weekend with our 24+ Quick Acts of Kindness, complete with printable random acts of kindness cards.
8. Subscribe to Pre-Planned Kindness
Do you like the projects listed so far, but feel like you need a clone to plan and prepare yet another family activity?
You might like this unique offering from Little Loving Hands: Kids' Craft Kits For A Cause. This subscription program gives families all they need to create a unique kindness project and give back to an organization in need.
Sales benefit DGT too!
Use the code DGT5 when you check out -- and you'll save 5% on your 6-month or one-year subscription! www.LittleLovingHands.com