Almost a decade ago, I caught the kindness bug. It felt like a nudge in my heart to change the focus of our family’s time and attention. It began with a little blog post and idea entitled “Light ‘Em Up” with some easy ways my friends and family could join me in lighting up the hearts of our neighbors, garbage and mail people, as well as others.
I didn’t realize it would grab a hold of our family in a powerful way and stay with us for man years to come. It became more than a holiday tradition for us. And I certainly didn’t anticipate that the little blog post would go around the world. In that first week, I was getting pictures from Dubai to London of other families thanking their garbage men. How exciting! And how cool is the internet?
I realized a few things about kindness through these years.
1. Kindness is contagious.
I have tried little and big acts of kindness in Atlanta, New York, Orlando, Dallas and every little town in between. I have done them with little kids, teenagers, grown adults, classrooms, and grumpy folks. And I have found every time that it’s contagious. Something happens when you get around giving—you want more. You see the impact it has on strangers. And you want to be a part, and you can’t stop.
One time, my mailman in Orlando heard about our generosity and knocked on my door. He asked if he could join. So, that Christmas Eve, we met our mailman and his daughter downtown Orlando with his one bag of donated clothes and together, we served the homeless community. I’ll never forget our two families (basically strangers) coming together over kindness. Casey, now my friend, taught me about treating homeless with dignity that day. Kindness is contagious. I have no doubt he is still going. And I know it didn’t start with me. I caught the bug from my mom.
2. Kindness is not random.
One thing that is also true is that our kindness adventures seem to never be random. We pass out a treat, hug or spare money or meal, and they seem to be divine appointments. It’s like there are two puzzle pieces coming together. My kids love it because they know we are supposed to meet someone on that day. Even if the reaction is mixed or is negative, we know that kindness is getting into the hands of those who needs it most. This is one of my favorite stories of a not-so-random kindness day.
Here are a few additional ways to not be random, but intentional, with kindness by celebrating Kindness Month in February.
3. Kindness helps me become a better parent.
As a mom, it’s my heart’s desire that my kids look around and see the world. That they take their eyes up and off themselves and look for others. As we have embarked on a journey to more kindness over the years, it has almost become second nature for my kids to see the needs of other people. As we pass a construction site on a hot day, we notice a group of people that likely need some water. As we pass a security guard in snow, we wonder where we could get hot chocolate. I love to see my kids come up with ideas from the small gestures to the big ones.
But as we challenge ourselves to be kind to others around us, we can’t forget how important it is to be intentional with kindness to the ones we love the most. I remember one Valentine’s Day, my husband said to me, “It feels like you are nicer to strangers than you are to us.” That really hurt, but he was right. So, I challenged my kids to “Love Em Up” and we began a journey of kindness within the walls of our home. If you can’t love the ones you’re with, who can you love right?
I’m so thrilled Parent Cue is challenging all of us in the area of kindness. I have seen the benefit in our family! You will not regret a minute or dollar of this effort—even the ones that don’t go as expected. Go Light ‘Em Up!