It’s that time for us failing human beings to make some shonky new year’s resolutions. I’m generally not a big fan of setting outlandishly un-achievable goals, so I’m thinking…how about we all just try to be a little bit nicer?
I have been mulling (in my wine) what I’d like to pass on, enable, inspire in my kids and jump-start in myself and my husband. For me it all boils down to 4 qualities….
A list: Kindness, emotional intelligence, manners and warmth/humour.
B list: Love of animals, nature and art.
Snagging points: Don’t pick it and eat it, don’t open champagne bottles with cork pointing to face, don’t be a stuntman/woman.
Following on from my article 20 thoughts on being earth-shatteringly awesome (see here), I keep coming back to point no. 10. BE KIND, for goodness’ sake be kind.
This Christmas along with thousands of others we loaded up our credit cards, piled up the gifts under our non-drop Christmas trees and utterly indulged on 25th December. Now that the needles are falling (non-drop my @rse) and I am running out of legit excuses to drink mulled wine and eat chocolate, I’m getting a touch pensive.
A few years ago, it was just my father and I on Christmas day. The image of us sitting alone in our paper hats with our 2 party-poppers was too pathetic. So I decided to volunteer our time (he was not entirely sold). We helped out at a local centre for adults with disabilities. It was challenging physically – wheeling multiple adults from their rooms to a hall and emotionally. We did have a good giggle when we were dressed as part of a nativity (tea-towels on heads) and had to lead the carol singing to an electric key-board. It was a day full of surprises. But back at my dad’s reclining in garden chairs, in his otherwise unfurnished front room, we felt good.
I’m throwing out some ideas on kindness and giving. This is not intended to be preachy or patronising, but I guarantee they will make you feel better than doing a Davina DVD or chugging a wheatgrass and kale smoothie.
If you want to teach your children about giving and thinking of others:
- Always stand aside and hold a door open for those who need it (or for anyone) and teach your kids to do the same (when they’re old enough not to slam it in someone’s face)
- Let your children put the 20p (or 1,2, 5p) in the charity boxes when you see them and explain what the money will be used for
- Grab a world map and google images of children from around the world to start shaping their sense of perspective
- Talk about what happened in their favourite film or TV show – did someone hurt another person’s feelings? Did someone do something really kind?
- Saying please and thank you. I know it sounds lame, but this is where it allllllll begins.
- Get them to donate to a charity shop (let them choose one of their old – but good quality toys). You could reward them by letting them choose something small to buy, if you’re not drowning in tat. Explain who benefits.
- Sponsor a child. You can choose the age, gender and continent of the child or just wherever there is greatest need. You will get a photo of your sponsor child and can encourage your kids to send them cards or letters. There are many charities that offer this, but here are two examples: http://www.plan-uk.org/sponsor-a-child OR https://www.actionaid.org.uk/sponsor-a-child
Don’t aim to scare them or ram in into their tiny busy little minds, but just slowly and surely.
Give to a charitable cause:
- Set up regular donations to your favourite charities e.g. cancer, developing countries, children or animals. It can be as little as £2 (don’t forget to Gift Aid)
- GAYE – If your company has it set up you can give as you earn (tax break)
- Staff fundraising – if you have a cause you’d like to support, speak to your manager about initiating company fundraising. Some companies will match what you donate. It could be a sponsored bike ride, sitting in a tin of beans in a bath, shaving your hair off or just a cake sale
- School fundraising – speak to your school parent association if there’s a cause you’d like to support and any ideas fundraising activities you have in mind.
Give your time – If can spare a few hours:
- Find your nearest volunteering centre https://www.ncvo.org.uk/ncvo-volunteering/find-a-volunteer-centre or http://www.volunteering.org.uk/
- Contact a local charity or one close to your heart to offer some time, it can be as little as 2 hours per month or even helping at one event per year.
If this all sounds like one giant hassle, then just try not to kick a puppy OK?