We are so blessed. No, really we are. And when my child starts to whine about how the battery has run down in his iTouch, or how they don’t want a home-cooked meal, they want fast food, or, they want a 2nd pair of UGG boots like everyone else in school…..I realize really quickly how I need to show my kids they are blessed indeed.
So this past Holiday season, we implemented a “Pay It Forward” Day. My kids woke up thinking I had something fun planned for them. And I did. It just wasn’t quite what they expected…..
I plunked down a $20 bill on the kitchen table while they were eating breakfast and asked them, “How do you think we can use this to make the MOST people smile today?”
They looked at me a bit skeptical.
“No, seriously. Our “fun” outing today will be to try to make as many people smile today as possible, brightening their day, in an effort to pass along that smile or kind act to someone else. It’s called Pay It Forward and that will be our fun.”
My 11 year old daughter was on board immediately. My 10 year old son took a while to warm up to it, but was soon joining in the brainstorming. And their ideas ROCKED! I am so glad that I involved them into planning our day and didn’t just do it for them, as they had so many great ideas.
An apartment complex in our school district had burned down the night before and my daughter saw they were accepting donations of clothing, toys, and household goods. So we cleaned out our closets and dropped off our donations.
My son adores the Fire Station near us and wanted to bring them cookies. We took it a step further and delivered cookies to all the public employees we could find. I hope the police station, the post office, our mailman, and the fire station near us all enjoyed the peanut butter cookies my son baked.
We wanted to see strangers smile, so we handed out candy canes at the Post Office, the local Starbucks, and the corner drugstore for a few hours. Most people smiled back, stopped and told us thank you, and one gentleman burst into song for us, saying it was the “sweetest thing he had seen all day.” That alone was worth our efforts.
We spent less than our $20 and my kids spent all day seeing and feeling the joy that comes with giving to strangers. No amount of money in the world could pay for that.
Ideas to Pay It Forward with Kids:
- Look for opportunities to show a random act of kindness – hold the door open for someone, help someone with their groceries to their car, allow someone with a child to jump ahead of you in the line, etc.
- Drive-thru Pay it Forwards (I love this one!) – Pay for the meal or coffee of the person behind you, pay for the toll/parking fee for the person behind you
- Leave a BIG tip for a deserving waiter/waitress
- Clean out your closets and donate them to someone in need
- Go out of your way to Thank someone for doing their job – tell the garbage man thank you, write a note of thanks to your banker, or even better, take the time to seek out a supervisor and tell them about their great employee
- Write an encouraging note to your chid’s teacher
- Stop at a Kid’s Lemonade Stand and buy a glass
- Tape exact change onto a soda machine
- Look for opportunities to volunteer in your area – Use Volunteer Match to help you find an opportunity