Sunday, January 4, 2015

Goal: Intentionally Teaching Children to "Pay It Forward" in 2015 and Being Their Example

I have a keyword tag for it, I mention it, but do I really "pay it forward"?

Paying it forward means being kind to others without expecting anything back in return.

I researched ways to pay it forward, to find lists of ideas and compare my deeds to those suggestions.
I hold the door open for people, donate clothes to goodwill, recycle, and sometimes let people cut in line in front of me at the store or in traffic. I admit sometimes. This past year I did volunteer at the MS Walk in September. I enjoyed that.

I have to admit, a few of the acts of kindness made me cringe, "Oh, I couldn't do that!" Where did that attitude come from? I should embrace some of those as a challenge. Things like buying stuff specifically to donate; pet food, clothes, food. Food is the easiest. It is the cheapest! Man, I'm a tight-wad.

My goal is to not only consider ways to Be Kind everyday, but to DO something outside of my comfort zone to intentionally help others.

Moreover, I need to teach my students and my own children to be kind. After some more research, I saw that there wasn't a singular list I liked for teaching children, so I made my own.

At school:

  • Smile at someone who seems to be having a rough day
  • Carry books for someone on crutches
  • Compliment someone, tell them they played a great game, painted a nice picture, or wore great shoes
  • Hold the door for someone behind you
  • Take found items to Lost and Found, even money.

In the Community:

  • Put shopping carts back in the cart corral
  • Bake and take cookies to local fire and police stations with thank you cards
  • Hold a Teddy Bear and Friends drive and donate to police and fire stations. If they have a kid in distress, they would love to have a stuffed animal to give them!
  • Take cards, Valentine's, or notes to local nursing homes
  • Donate clothes, toys, to daycares, charity, or to a family whose house burned down.
  • Donate items to the local humane shelter, maybe even volunteer there or foster a pet
  • Give cookies and thank yous to your local postal workers
  • Pay for someone's drink or toll behind you from a coin jar you and your kids save change in
  • Allow a person with a few items in line in front of you
  • Shop with your child for canned goods that you then donate together to the local food bank
  • Teach your children how to greet strangers. "Hello" and a smile from a sweetie might make their day.
  • Encourage them, if old enough, to use It donates rice to hungry people while your child learns new things.
  • Live in a tourist trap? Offer to take photos for people and families struggling to get into a selfie.
  • Put coupons you don't need on community bulletin boards. Share coupons for restaurants with others in the restaurant that you don't use.
  • Take found items to Lost and Found. It is not always 'Finders Keepers'.
  • Many churches do wonderful things to help others. Find out what your church is doing and jump in!

At Home:

  • LISTEN! Listen to your kids without trying to fix anything, without adding to their stories, without trying to change the subject. They will learn to listen to their friends and others without judging, too.
  • Pick up litter in a local park, along your street, or in an open space nearby regularly. Recycle cans.
  • If you don't recycle, do. Kids can help separate and take bags of items to the recycling center, or out to the curb.
  • Donate books you no longer read. Schools, libraries, paperback exchanges, and other places like jails or prisons will take books. Call first, though. Find out what programs your town has. There are also some online.
  • Donate old towels to the humane shelter
  • Leave inspiring notes for each other. (or love notes)
  • Mow the neighbor's lawn
  • Put out bird feeders or fresh bird baths in winter. 

For More Ideas:
My Pinterest Be Kind Board
For Teachers and Schools
Rants From Mommyland: Kids Can Volunteer - These are divided by age groups
109 Acts of Kindness you can start doing today

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Last 10 Years

A friend of mine posted on facebook that he was glad to see a year with a 5 in it. The last time we had a year with a 5 in it was 10 years ago.

I began to think back 10 years.


It was 3 years before I started to blog.

The husband and I took an official honeymoon in March on a shoestring budget to Niagara Falls and Toronto. We left the 2 year old in the care of my parents and brother. We stayed in the cheapest hotel and only spent money on food. It was cold and the Maid of the Mist wasn't running. There was ice on the falls. We enjoyed being tourists, but the only attraction we could afford was one of the arcades. This was the highlight of my year. It was the first thing that popped into my head when I thought of the year '05.

I graduated from college in May. This was not the first thing that popped into my head, because I didn't attend my college graduation. I didn't want to sit through the speeches alone. My family would not be attending. It wasn't a big deal.

How you do homework with a toddler

We moved back to our home city to be near family. It was an old house we rented near a big college football stadium. It was okay except for fall homecoming. Band music, cheering, lights, drunken college kids; not my thing. I'd just left that behind. In fact, I never went to any homecoming in high school or college. Sports are not my thing.

I worked that summer taking care of adults with special needs in a group home, driving for an hour to the location. Later, I would switch companies to be closer to home.

I missed the window for interviewing in this county's school system and began to substitute teach in the fall. I picked up a job right away as an education assistant working one-on-one with a boy in a wheelchair. I enjoyed this job. I enjoyed working in the group homes, too, even though it was much harder and much more stressful. I feel...useful, fulfilled, knowing I am helping people.

Sometime in that year I think I made homemade applesauce. I don't even like applesauce. I think my son ate most of it.

In the winter, we filed for bankruptcy when our house didn't sell. We took care of some stupid debt mistakes, including surrendering my car which we were paying too much for. It was a rough time of learning, growing up, and being adults. I think the next 2 years were even rougher, though. Maybe even the next 7 years.
It was a rough year, one of lessons learned.

2005 was the beginning of rock bottom. I was whiny, insecure, immature, couldn't see my dreams through all the stormy clouds of life. I deleted most of those blog posts from '08 and '09 and '10, etc. They were embarrassing, or too revealing; unprofessional.

2014 was a pretty good year compared to '12 and '13. It started a little rough, with my learning what it was like to have a difficult student and feeling like a failure. I graduated from the next phase of my college classes. I put that Spring semester behind me and jumped into a new school year with both feet. I redesigned my classroom, my schedule, and rejoiced in the new challenges that would come. I felt ready, but still armored up with the knowledge that things could change at any moment.

And here it is, 2015.

I bought a new planner and organized my time into it. I set a time for workouts, for lesson planning, for dinner, for me-time, for date time, for writing time, and for homework. I know things will happen to interrupt my planned schedule, but having things planned gives me freedom to accept those changes.

It also helps me set goals. My family now knows I workout at 5. They encourage me not to miss it. Having a set time frees me up to choose how to spend it. I can Wii Zumba, use the elliptical and do some bodyweight exercises, or punch the new punching bag in my living room. (The boys are loving that punching bag, by the way.) I can decide if I want a cardio day, a strength day, a stretching day, a dance day, or a mix-of-whatever day. One day the weather will be nice again and I can start biking, walking the dog, jogging, and outside exercises.

The expert say to take small steps to reach a goal. They say to set goals. Setting a time for a workout and planning my day is a small, but very important step to achieving something awesome.

When I thought back to that weekend trip in 2005, I also recalled that we wanted to take the boys there on a vacation someday. We've been talking a lot about that elusive word, 'vacation', and how it compares to 'trip'. I am hoping that my new scheduling/organizing skills will spill over to saving skills and more wise choices that result in a 'trip' or a 'vacation' or both.

Hey, gas prices are back down to the same that they were in 2005... and I am in a better financial place. How did we do it back then? Have enough to go on a weekend excursion? If we did it 10 years ago, we can stubbornly do it again. Determination. Goals. Dreaming Big.