As a parent of three small children, I struggle a lot with how to raise them to have giving spirits. It’s vitally important to me that my kids learn to look outside themselves and their own interests to grow into compassionate and giving members of society. In a perfect world, I’d love to pack up my 5-year-old, 4-year-old and 4-month-old for weekly trips to the soup kitchen or nursing home to volunteer. But lets get real for a minute, that’s just not happening.
However, it doesn’t mean that I have to give up on my mission to raise grateful and altruistic kids. It just means that at this stage in our lives, I need to look for ways to give back that we can do at home. And once I changed my mindset, those ways weren’t that hard to find.
I noticed, for example, that the kids were curious about why so many of our friends and family brought us food when their little brother was born. So I took the opportunity to talk to them about the importance of community and family, as well as what it means to be there for the ones we love.
This also got me plotting to include the kids in cooking a meal or doing a favor for someone in need sometime soon. Just a few weeks later, my mother-in-law had to have mouth surgery and I seized the chance to enlist the kids’ help to put together a care package for her.
Here are our top tips for creating a thoughtful care package:
1. A New Way to Pass the Time
Whether it’s a mom recovering from a C-section or a friend with a bad case of the flu, when someone’s in need of a care package, she’s also often stuck in bed. To help her pass the time, find a new activity she might enjoy and set her up to try it.
My mother-in-law lovingly hand-stitched several receiving blankets for each of my kids, so we figured that she might also have a knack for knitting. In her care package, we included a set of knitting needles, a few beginner knitting books and some yarn for practicing.
2. A Tried and True Way to Pass the Time
Like all good grandmas, my mother-in-law never tires of showing off pictures of her grandbabies. So we knew that supplies to make her own personal “brag book” would be a hit. We included several printed photos of our family along with a small scrapbook and journaling cards.
Perhaps the best gift you can give someone on the mend is dinner. Just be sure to take into account the recipient’s tastes and dietary requirements (i.e., no super spicy dishes for new moms). Since we knew Grandma’s sore mouth would require mostly soft food, the kids and I hit the supermarket to stock up on applesauce, gelatin and even some grits. We also had a great time making several homemade soups and DIY smoothie packs for her.
4. Words of Encouragement & Expressions of Love
We finished it all off with a pretty tote to keep everything in and, most importantly, some words of love and encouragement. I picked up this simple card, which we all signed — and then the kids spent a few hours carefully coloring pictures for Grandma to hang around her bed while she recovered.
Photo credit: Stephanie Morgan
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