Last week, I told my husband that we need to Lead by Example with our kids. They are learning from our kindness (or lack there of) every single day, and it hit me HARD last week. Everything that we do or say rubs off on our kids.
You see… when we went out to dinner a few weeks ago, one of our kids said ‘This place is so slow. What are they doing back there?’ You could have knocked me over. It was so ungracious and unkind and impatient. This was my doing. I think I said that, in a moment of frustration, the week before when I was waiting for something at a checkout counter.
Then it really hit me: I need to lead by example. I can say whatever I want, but I need to be the leader in showing them what it looks like… all the time. They are always watching us.
So, we decided we were going to do it. We picked a few things that we could do throughout the week. I sat the kids down at the table and said that we needed to be kind to others and I wanted to work really hard at doing that. We are so lucky to have our family and we need to remember the things that we have and make others feel as good as we feel. It isn’t fair to keep all of that goodness… let’s spread it around (note how I’m being positive here. lol!)
We decided on these 5 things… one per day throughout the week.
5 Ways to Lead by Example
Buying flowers to give is expensive, so we cut flowers from our garden and delivered them to our neighbors. They love them! It was really a great way to say, “Hi!” to neighbors that we hadn’t talked to in months!
In addition to sharing flowers, whenever we have an abundant veggie crop in our garden, we share the abundance with neighbors and family. There’s always an appreciative smile and thank you when we deliver baskets filled with cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers (those ones are usually the ones that we have the most of in the summertime!). I have the kids write out a sauce recipe on a little recipe card, too.
Do you know what activity helps kids build their fine motor skills? Cutting paper. So, instead of having the kids cut up random pages, I have them cut coupons. We then take the coupons with us to the library and even to the grocery store and leave behind any that we don’t need. We put the extras next to the products they’re for, so that it’s a special savings for the next person. I love when I am the person that finds these, so someone else will feel the same!
Trash Can Man
My son has gotten into the habit of helping one of our elderly neighbors take their trashcans back from the curb on trash day. He jokingly calls himself, “Trash Can Man” and says he loves being able to help. I love that he wants to. It makes my heart so happy!
Check on Neighbors
When I was growing up, we lived in a neighborhood with a lot of elderly couples. It became second-nature to check on them once a week by bringing them cookies or gathering their mail from the mailbox and running it to their front door on rainy days.
We’ve taken up the same tradition now and the kids love visiting just as much as our neighbors enjoy seeing them. We have a neighbor two doors down and we take him cookies every week or so (we bake cookies a lot!) and he always gives us vegetables from his garden or even old toys from when his kids were little. My kids LOVE it!
The point is, I want my kids to be kind (we even started a Kindness Jar) but I want them to learn from me. If I am not leading by example, how on earth would I expect them to do the same?