To kick off Family Fun Twin Cities’s We Can Give Back Month, we want to welcome Sarah from Doing Good Together and Big Hearted Families and her suggestions of 6 Big-Hearted Habits we can start immediately. 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’ 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 and compassion into your family’s everyday routines with Big-Hearted Habits.
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!
6 Big-Hearted Habits to Start Right Now
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Big-Hearted Families Book Club
Transform family time into a fun, book-centered kindness practice with a wonderful picture book, carefully crafted discussion questions, a kindness activity, and a fun recipe. Find a collection of big-hearted books here.
5. Table Talk
Print 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.
6. 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.
More Resources from Doing Good Together
- How to Create a Family Mission Statement.
- Dinner Time Conversation Starters — sometimes you just need right questions.
- Free Printable Kindness Cards.
- Family Project Ideas.
- Create a Giving Jar or Box – A great family activity with young children
- Sharing Love for the Common Good
- Brief Mindfulness Practice Tools
- Ideas for Practicing Compassion and Quiet Togetherness
- The Surprising Benefits of Chores – harness your children’s energy and make chore’s a team effort.
- Introduce important issues with these DGT Group Lessons
- A Printable menu of Everyday Habits for the Big-Hearted Family
- How to Assemble Homeless Care Kits
Doing Good Together™ (DGT) is a national nonprofit based in Minnesota that was created to empower families to raise caring kids.
Sarah Aadland was the voice of DGT’s Big-Hearted Families™ program and 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.