To kick off Family Fun Twin Cities’s We Can Give Back Month, we want to welcome Sarah from Big Hearted Families. I have just started getting to know Sarah. This is unfortunate because for 3 years her daughter and my daughter (who coincidentally have the same name) were in the same grade at school. In fact, these two girls with the same name walked the sidewalk together and entered the school together on their first day of kindergarten leading the pack of kindergartners. But I didn’t meet Sarah until their family moved an hour away. What rotten timing.
Sarah agreed to help us out this month as Big Hearted Families’s focus is just that: Helping families to realistically live kindess regularly. So without further adieu, I give you Sarah. (this isn’t the last you’ll be hearing from her or about her/Big Hearted Families, I can assure you)
Build kindness into your family’s everyday routines.
The less you isolate service projects and acts of kindness into their own once-in-a-while calendar slots, the more generosity simply becomes a way of life. The research is pretty clear: kids who develop a strong sense of empathy are more likely to be cooperative, are more apt to have higher quality social relationships and are better at resolving conflict. A high degree of empathy also motivates helping behavior and reduces bullying.
Big-Hearted Families is full of tools to help your family practice empathy and make a difference, all while creating wonderful family memories!
Adopt a Food Shelf : Make it a habit to pick up a few extra groceries (especially good staples when they go on sale) each time you go. Decorate a dedicated box, and add to it whenever you can. Once a month, take time as a family to deliver your box of donations and start a conversation with your kids about who you are helping… and why.
The Rubbish Race . Pack plastic bags and gardening gloves in a special backpack, and turn every walk to the park into a neighborhood cleanup effort.
Sign up for Free Inbox Inspiration : Between our monthly newsletter full of seasonal family service tips and our Twin Cities Volunteer Listing , you are sure to find one or two simple ways each month to turn family time into an opportunity for kindness.
Big-Hearted Families Book Club: We’ve made it even easier to transform family time into a fun, book-centered kindness practice. Each month, we send our subscribers a wonderful picture book, carefully crafted discussion questions, a kindness activity, and a recipe from The Kids Cook Monthly. Subscriptions make wonderful gifts.
Table Talk: Print these simple placemats and use them to inspire big-hearted dinner conversations. Once you get in the habit, discussing big ideas as a family will come naturally.
Create a card-making station. Fill a small box with folded paper, envelops, magazine cut outs, stickers, glue, and markers. Then invite your kids to make cards to cheer up others. Follow our project link to connect with sick children who could use some mail, or tune in to the needs of those around you. Make cards for an ailing neighbor, or leave a thank you note for your garbage collector. Make the box easily accessible so kids can redo this project on a whim.
While occasional volunteer projects in the community are wonderfully rewarding, empowering our kids to be thoughtful and helpful each and every day will impact our communities for generations to come.
Sarah Aadland is the voice of the Big-Hearted Families blog,
Twitter and Facebook feeds, and the Pinterest boards. Her own family of five provides
ample inspiration and field-testing for the ideas, stories, and links she shares. While
they may be covered in glue, glitter, and grass clippings most of the time, she keeps her
grade-schooler, preschooler, and toddler steeped in lessons of kindness and empathy
amid the dizzying pace of family life.