What if I told you one simple tweak to your priorities could reduce stress and fill your family life with meaningful fun? What's more, it's a tweak you already believe is important:
Live generously, and everything else will fall into place.
As parents, we face a gauntlet of ideas every day. We are bombarded by instructions, opinions, and - yes - judgments about how we should approach the most personal, challenging, and constantly-fluctuating job we'll ever do.
Our lives are held hostage by the ever-present fear that our kids aren't getting enough.
- Not enough educational opportunity, study time, or age-appropriate challenges.
(Should my fourth grader sign up to take coding over her lunch hour, or does she really need that break?)
- Not enough quality nutrition.
(Note to self: add quinoa and kale to the grocery list).
- Not enough (or perhaps not the right kind) of extracurricular enrichment.
(Can we squeeze in that Lego Robotics club or perhaps music lessons?)
- Not enough room to build relationships with friends and extended family.
(It's time to schedule more free play, isn't it.)
Even as we stress over providing our children with enough of what they need, we despair over their excesses. Every parent I know, every parent I work with, struggles with the challenge of "too much."
Too much stuff.
(We're trying for a homemade, experience-only holiday season this year... because otherwise my house will explode!).
Too much screen time.
(No matter what the American Academy of Pediatrics says, we all know instinctively when we've crossed that line from engaging with digital media to creating blue-screen monsters!)
Too much on the calendar.
("Honey, it looks like next week's family dinner will be Tuesday from 5 to 5:30 before piano and after Lego Robotics.")
Too often, we muddle through, bouncing between the stress of too much and not enough, hoping to strike a balance and striving to remind ourselves that if we made it to adulthood, our kids will too.
And they will. We don't need to try so hard. You, tired parent, coffee cup in hand, google calendar pinging in your pocket, you don't have to try so hard or worry so much. The kids are going to be all right, even if we don't strike the perfect balance all the time.
It's a bold statement to say that living generously is a cure all, but I can tell you from years of experience with my own family, and from the experiences of our Big-Hearted Families™ Membership Circle, adding kindness to your life will
Give your kids (and yourself) new, real-world learning opportunities
Strengthen relationships between family members
Build new relationships with those you work with (you party guests!)
Provide a reality check, so the gimmes take a back seat
Plus, instead of worrying about just exactly how your kids are doing, you can think, together, about the needs of others. A broadened perspective makes those micro-decisions (Lego Robotics vs. Piano) seem less critical.
Add one of these projects to your next play date, family gathering, dinner party, or holiday celebration.
These party-worthy kindness ideas are fun, plus they will help family and friends work together for a cause, think about others, and learn about community challenges.
Set up a craft table to create Friendship Bracelets or other gifts for school friends or neighbors. Don't forget to share with families who may be new to your community or struggling to make new friends.
- Host a party to benefit the Pajama Program, which donates pajamas and story books to children in homeless shelters. This is the perfect addition to a child's slumber party.
- Repackage rice and beans for a shelter or food shelf. This is a wonderful way to fight hunger in your community even as you host a fun dinner party to strengthen friendships.
- Stage a 5K Clean Up. Invite friends and neighbors for a fall walk - with garbage bags and gloves. Clean up a lake, river, or park nearby. Spend time outside, and feel pride in ownership of your community resources.
- Invite friends, neighbors, or party guests to participate in a book swap. Check out our new recommendations for books to inspire creativity, or grab titles your family is finished with and trade them with a friend.
- Gather busy families together for a meal prep day. Stock one another's freezers with nutritious, crock-pot-ready meals, and share a fewwith a neighbor who may be struggling with a new job or health issues.
Be a global citizen! Learn about a specific part of the world during a dinner party or play date. Try new food, listen to new music, read a book or two from that culture, and then imagine what it might feel like to suddenly leave your country and move somewhere very new. Then make Kits for CWS to be distributed worldwide to refugees.
If you are planning a birthday party or a unique play date, check out our ebook 12 Fun, Creative Birthday Parties that Give Back. Empower kids to use their birthday to do good!
Whether you add these generous projects to a play date, a sleep over, a dinner party, or a holiday gathering, they are great tools to add fun, learning, and togetherness to the lives of those you love.