Since I found out I was pregnant, I’ve been looking forward to the time when I could start to teach my child about the spirit of Christmas and giving to others. Yes, I know it’s never too early to start teaching these things, but I was looking forward to the time when Leopold could comprehend acts of service and why we do the things we do. It wasn’t until I got an email from one of my favorite brands that I even remembered my game plan for Christmas time.
I want to raise my son and daughter to be kind, loving and empathetic human beings. That no matter where you are in life, you can always lend a hand to someone in need.
Even those who aren’t necessarily ‘in need’. You never know what’s going on in someone’s life, so even your neighbor in the fancy house could use a random act of kindness. I want my children to get a thrill out of making someone else’s day, or just making someone smile.
I’m already very proud of Leopold’s ability to compliment people. He is never afraid to tell someone “I like your sweater!” or even “Ooh, I love your shower head” (True statement). Just a small compliment goes a long way, especially coming from a toddler, as toddlers are notorious for their blatant honesty.
So maybe this year instead of a regular 12 days of Christmas, do 12 days of kindness instead. I plan to spread these 12 days out over the whole month. I have a little advent calendar and I will add small treats to 12 boxes, and 12 little notes with activities to the rest. Leopold will learn that the holidays are not all about him in a way that will hopefully get him excited to help others.
If you do “Elf on the Shelf” consider switching it up a bit and instead of mischief, have your elf bring “missions”. Every few days, the elf can deliver a mission such as donating toys, or delivering goodies to a shelter!
If you’re looking for some inspiration, here are a few things I’m thinking of adding to our boxes. These are mostly all toddler friendly so you could change things to fit your child’s skill level!
Take baked treats to local firemen
Take baked treats to local policemen
Leave a kind note for a stranger to find
Visit a nursing home with special paintings and candy canes to give out, and hang out for a while!
Donate old blankets to a pet shelter
Donate new toys to a local toy drive
Make up a box for operation christmas child
Write a nice letter and send it to a friend
Donate to a food pantry
Leave a small gift for your postal worker
Paint some pictures for family and have your child tell you what they love about each person to write on the pictures
Make a pine cone bird feeder to leave out for the birds
Clean out old toys and take the nicer ones to a shelter
Clean out old clothes to take to a shelter
Donate your time to walk some shelter dogs or snuggle shelter kitties
Make cookies to hand out to your neighbors, then deliver them to their doors
Make ornaments to hand out along with your baked treats
You will notice that some of these items are geared toward loved ones, some to total strangers, and some to animals! I want my children to be kind to all humans AND animals.
One of my favorite tools for teaching empathy to my kids are our Rubens Barn dolls. These dolls are made specifically to help children learn empathy and be kind and loving. We got baby Erik for Leopold when we found out I was pregnant. He was our tool for practicing how to be gentle and loving with the new baby. Sure enough, Leopold is the best big brother ever. The only thing we worry about is him loving her TOO much and squishing her or smothering her with kisses. But we are working on toning it down a bit. I really think Leopold is a natural at being sensitive and gentle, but I know practice with Erik helped!
We plan to take our Rubens Barn dolls along for the ride this year for our 12 days of kindness! It’s always more fun to be kind with friends, right?! You can take your own Rubens Barn baby on your adventures too! Use the code KINDERCHRISTMAS18 for 15% off until December 31st, 2018. If you make a purchase, you can enter another desired item (a doll or an accessory) in the message section and on January 3rd, Rubens barn will choose one person from a raffle to win the product they chose!