by Penelope Loves Lists Contributor Lisa Shields
The most magical thing happened to my family last weekend … we had an entire day with NOTHING on the calendar. In our over-scheduled world, the days are now few and far between when there isn’t an activity planned or a major “to-do” to accomplish.
I know its simply the reality of this season in our lives … we are in the awkward teenage years of our family’s existence (literally and figuratively). Too old for lazy days filled with pool floaties and pb&j, yet, too young for retirement travel. We are “betweeners”.
So, when this magical phenomenon of time appeared on my calendar, I wanted to seize it. I needed to grab a hold of that sucker and make certain that we found a way to enjoy the day and not just let it breeze right by. I wanted to be intentional.
So, after much brainstorming, my family and I decided that we’d spend a day challenging ourselves to accomplish 5 random acts of kindness. Admittedly at the outset of the journey, we were all a bit “prickly”. It took some effort and convincing to get everyone out the door and into the car. But, on our way home, our perspectives had shifted and in the end, we all felt a little happier, a little calmer, a lot more thankful.
This was a really easy activity that required very little planning ahead and offered the ability for a lot of family collaboration and team work!
Here’s what we did:
1. We went to a used book store and browsed the children’s section for all the books my girls loved reading as youngsters. The memories were abundant and the excitement the girls got from seeing old favorites was priceless. We bought 10 books ranging in age appropriateness. From there we headed to Dell Children’s Hospital and donated the books to the hospital library.
3. We then needed a little “pick me up”, so we went to a drive through for an icy drink and paid for the order of the car behind us.
4. This one comes with a bit of a funny story … We went to a favorite local taco place and bought a hearty meal and brownie and took the order “to-go”. There are multiple intersections in our city that we drive through on a daily basis that are frequented by homeless in need of a little assistance. So, we went in search for one of the faces we see regularly to deliver our meal. However, it just happened to be 103 degrees out on this scorching TX summer afternoon. And after driving to all of the intersections we could think of, we couldn’t find a soul in need of the meal. #failforkindness #successforfamilybonding (In the end, we decided that this counted as a random act as we did support a local small business that we love!)
5. It was then time for Sunday night dinner. We had a nice family meal with some delicious food and no iphones and then we left our server a 50% tip to energize her evening!
At the outset of our adventure, we had a budget for what we were comfortable spending. A lot of what we did involved a financial contribution. But, it certainly doesn’t have to!
Here are some more ideas we came up with for the future.
- Wash a neighbor’s car
- Visit a pet shelter and spend some time loving on the animals (you may need training for this. Call ahead.)
- Clean up trash on the side of a local road or park.
- Grab a bunch of icy cold waters (minimal expense here) and pass them out to joggers/bikers on a popular trail nearby.
- If you have a friend/neighbor with small children, offer to take them to the park for an hour to give your neighbor/friend a breather!
- Write thoughtful cards with inspirational or uplifting quotes and place them on random cars in a local parking lot.
Did you know there is a whole website dedicated to Random Acts of Kindness? I didn’t either!
Here’s another list of great ideas to get your creative kindness juices flowing.
I’m certain that our Penelope tribe has even more ideas for Random Acts of Kindness! If you do, please share, because my family will definitely be on the look out for another magical “kindness” day!