And so it begins! Welcome 2013 and a “Focus” on Kindness!


So it is now officially 2013!

We’re really excited to get started with our Project 52: Focus on Kindness.

I have so many ideas swirling around in my head that I’m not quite sure how to start except to just start!

I suspect that the next few weeks will be an exciting time of development as we get started, figure out what works, what doesn’t, talk to others who are participating along with us and find out what you all need from me (if anything) and really get this thing going.

Building a Resource:

My main goal over the next few weeks will be to share what we are doing here on the blog and to build a resource here that other families (and my own) can go to when we need ideas from week to week.  I will be diving into the world of web research and creating pages here of links to kindness ideas, local service organizations and other information about doing service projects with children.  If you’re participating along with us and need an idea, hopefully this will serve as a resource to help get through the weeks that feel harder than others.

Like I said in the last post – sometimes it’s not as much a matter of time or funding – it’s just knowing what needs are out there.

A Little Bit of Structure:

I have been brainstorming structure over the past few weeks.  As I talk it over with my husband he keeps reminding me that we don’t have to have the whole year planned ahead of time.  Flexibility is a good thing because as we learn what needs and opportunities are there we will be able to go with the flow.  He is much less “type A” than I am… lol… but I think he’s got a point.  I can be one that over-plans to the point of never starting because the plan isn’t quite “perfect” yet.  It’s important to just get started!

However, I do realize that there are others like me out there who, in doing a project, like to have at least a little bit of structure in order to set goals and maintain motivation.

My thought is that each of us will probably structure our projects a little bit differently depending on the goals of our own family.  But I thought I would throw out a few ideas in case you wanted to adopt one and make it your own.

  • A Week-by-Week Approach

One flexible approach would be a week-by-week approach where you designate each of the four weeks of the month for a particular type of “kindness” or service.  I am considering this approach for my own family to help us stay organized.  My thought is:

One Organized Service Project

One Intentional Act of Kindness for someone in our House

One Intentional Act of Kindness for someone outside of our home

One Random Act of Kindness

This would have us ending the year having participated in 12 organized service projects, 12 random acts of kindness and 24 intentional acts of kindness for people we know or care about (and… well… a few months have extra weeks in them so we’d have to come up with 4 more “projects”).  This seems completely do-able to me in a way that would not overwhelm the kids and have them feeling like it was a chore.  The big challenge in this will be to find a balance between completing our goals and making sure the kids are enjoying it and getting out of the project what we hope they will.

  • A Focus on Kindness Project that Focuses on the Kindness of Others

Another thought was that if someone out there wants to participate but does not have children you could make a goal to focus on a different service organization or kindness project in your community each week.  This would be an incredible learning experience and would greatly help in getting the word out to the rest of the community about the needs and opportunities available.  It’s like being a photojournalist on the kindness beat!:)

  • The monthly theme approach

Another approach which could be done together with the week-by-week structure or as a separate strategy would be to follow a set of monthly themes to guide you in the choices you make for projects.  You could use the list I have brainstormed here or change it as you need to suit the interests/resources of your family and community. Themes like this can be a great jumping off point for brainstorming project ideas with your children.  If you’re doing this with kids, like we are, the MOST important thing is to get them involved in the entirety of the project.  Make them a part of the planning.  Find out their ideas and interests – google those ideas together on the computer.  They will take ownership and their self-esteem and confidence and sense of empowerment will grow in stride!

January – Warmth
February – Hearts
March – Good Luck!
April – Earth/Environment/Animals
May – Children
June – Neighborhood
July – Country
August – Harvest
September – Back to School
October – Health
November – Hunger
December – Family
  • The Single Service Approach

Maybe some of you have a passion about a specific need in the world.  Maybe you are passionate about the homeless or the hungry.  Maybe your passion is for special needs children and supporting their families.  Maybe it’s for animals or the environment.  If you and/or your children find yourselves passionate about one particular area of need then go with that.  Dive in, research everything you can about it, find out all the ways you can help.  Then commit to doing one thing a week in support of this single cause and creating at least one photo to post.  Along with that photograph you will have a weekly opportunity to educate the world on what you care greatly about.  You’re bound to find others who share your passion and concern.  If your kids are old enough you can involve them in writing the informative blog posts as well.  They’ll be serving and learning valuable research/communication skills along the way.  And you’ll be raising awareness for a cause you care greatly about.

  • The DIY approach

    do you have another idea?  If you have another idea for how to approach this year-long project please let me know.  I’ll add it to this list so that others might follow along with you.  If you come up with your own list for monthly themes share it too!  Ultimately, there is no right or wrong.  Just get out there and spread the joy that is in your power to spread.  Teach the kids in your life that they can change the world.  And share your ideas to make it easy for other families to do the same!

WEEK 1:  Assignment

So I’ve thought long and hard about what the “right” assignment would be for week one.

But remember… there is no RIGHT or WRONG… except maybe thinking too long and doing too little.

So for week one just get out there and DO!

So the assignment I’m giving my family is 2-fold (and remember… you can give your own family a different assignment).

  1. Create a Kindness Calendar – sit down with the kids and mark our 52 weeks on a calendar.  Brainstorm with them to get ideas of things they want to make sure we do (if I know that they really want to help animals then I know I need to research the needs of our local animal organizations).  Talk about the project and make decisions about the first four weeks.  Write them in.
  2. Do one Random Act of Kindness this week.

I’m defining a Random Act of Kindness as a small surprise for someone we don’t know and won’t choose.  It’s something left for a stranger to stumble on or something done for someone where we don’t necessarily have complete control over who the beneficiary will be.  These are things like paying for the car behind you in the drive through line or leaving a bouquet of flowers on someone’s car (a very fun RAK that was featured recently in the Reston Patch).  We just spent a whole month showering those we love with kindness and being showered in return.  Now it’s time to pay it forward.


So I am designating Mondays as my posting day for this project.  Since 2013 started on a Tuesday then Monday is the last day of each week.  This will finish our project on Dec 30 and leave Dec. 31 completely free for New Year’s celebrations.  This will also give us weekends to do projects as a family when we need a little extra time and start our week off with a bit of inspiration.  Here are the dates for the entire year for those that will be making calendars along with us:  If you email me your links from week to week I will post links to all of your projects at the bottom of my post as well so anyone following along can see all the great ideas being generated.  Getting them to me Sunday night would be great and I’ll get the post out by the end of the day on Monday.  I should note that the goal of my posting will be to spread ideas and information about the various projects.  I will be probably be taking many more pictures for my own family album.  But I will try to give as much how-to and behind-the-scenes info as possible with the single photo I feature each Monday.  Here is the year of Mondays.

1: Jan 7
2: Jan 14
3: Jan 21
4: Jan 28
5: Feb 4
6: Feb 11
7: Feb 18
8: Feb 25
9: Mar 4
10: Mar 11
11: Mar 18
12: Mar 25
13: April 1
14: April 8
15: April 15
16: April 22
17: April 29
18: May 6
19: May 13
20: May 20
21: May 27
22: June 3
23: June 10
24: June 17
25: June 24
26: July 1
27: July 8
28: July 15
29: July 22
30: July 29
31: Aug 5
32: Aug 12
33: Aug 19
34: Aug 26
35: Sept 2
36: Sept 9
37: Sept 16
38: Sept 23
39: Sept 30
40: Oct 7
41: Oct 14
42: Oct 21
43: Oct 28
44: Nov 4
45: Nov 11
46: Nov 18
47: Nov 25
48: Dec 2
49: Dec 9
50: Dec 16
51: Dec 23
52: Dec 30

What Else do You Need?

So the final question I have is what else do you need in terms of support to get this project going for your family?  Let me know if there’s anything you need from me – more detailed prompts? Photo assignments?  What would make this easier for you as a parent?

Please don’t hesitate to ask.  I want to be here to support anyone and everyone who wants to do this project along with us.  I will work hard this week on starting those resource pages here on the blog. As you come across your own ideas or find resources on the web please let me know and I’ll add them.  I’ll share what works for us (and what doesn’t – often just as important!).  I will do whatever I can from here behind my computer to facilitate spreading the smiles!  Just let me know.


PLEASE let me know if you’re participating too!  I would love to know who else out there is following along.  Send me an email – or leave a comment here.  Hope to see you throughout 2013 working together to spread smiles!

And because I don’t want to have 2 posts in a row without a photo I dug this one from my 2012 archives because it’s an example of a beautiful act-of-kindness we stumbled on in Washington DC.  Someone had painted this rock and placed it amidst the grasses in a flower bed along Constitution Avenue.  It greatly brightened our day when we discovered it while walking back to our car after an event on the mall.

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[...] Last week’s “assignment” was to brainstorm with our kids and start a kindness calendar for the year along with jumping right in and doing a random act of kindness. [...]

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