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practicing random acts of mom-kindness

by Meagan Francis on July 13, 2010

As I’m poring over dozens and dozens of emails, Facebook and blog comments, cards, plants and notes from friends, internet buddies, and clients sending me prayers, thoughts, and sympathy, it occurs to me: people can be really nice, and really thoughtful and helpful in a crisis. It just shows you that most of us have our hearts and our intentions in the right places. It’s during the everyday grind of life–standing in the checkout line, driving carpool, waiting in the hall for your parent-teacher conference–that we tend to forget how big a difference those little acts of kindness can have on another mom’s day. I was reminded of this last week when I tried to go grocery shopping the day the last of my family members packed up and went home. The entire day, I felt like I was walking through soup. I probably looked normal (except for the extreme slowwwwness of my movements) but each little kindness I was granted–like the guy who waved for me to cross with my cart in front of his car even though he didn’t have a stop sign, or the friend who sent a supportive text at just the right moment–made a huge difference. Even on a good day, all moms could use a helping hand–whether it’s a knowing smile at just the right moment or a surprise offer to babysit.

When I take the time to stop and be nice–whether to a friend or a total stranger–I always get a little boost out of it myself. It’s just reminding myself to stop and take a moment that’s the tricky part. So I’m going to consider this post my reminder…and would love it if you felt inspired by it, too.

Here are a few ideas for ways you can make a fellow mom’s life a little easier this week:

  • When you’re shopping without kids–or when you’ve got just older, easier kids with you–give up that prize “right by the shopping carts and front door” parking spot in the hopes that a mom with a bolting toddler or newborn baby will get it. I do this regularly and while I know there’s a good chance some young, able-bodied person will snag it instead, I figure at least once in a while it’s got to help out a mom in need (or maybe somebody else who really could use the closer spot).
  • Stop in to see a friend today, and offer to grab her kids and take them to the park. Just imagine how good you’d feel if somebody unexpectedly offered you an hour to yourself today. It’s not that hard to give that gift to somebody else.
  • Next time you’re at the grocery store, call a friend and see if she needs you to pick anything up. You know what a bummer it is to head out to the store in bad weather when all you need is a gallon of milk, right? You can save somebody else the effort with practically no additional effort of your own.
  • You’re at Target and there’s a mom with a wailing, inconsolable child in the aisle with you. Regardless of how you feel about the way she’s speaking to or looking at her child, regardless of how ill-behaved he seems, regardless of how busy you are or how painful the piercing screams are to listen to…look at her and smile. Maybe grab the cart if she needs help steadying it while removing her fit-throwing kid, or just give her a kind word. Another time, you might be the “mean mom” with the “bratty kid” hoping desperately that everyone around you knows that you really aren’t usually so grumpy and your child usually isn’t so scream-y.

I’d love for you to add your own suggestions in the comments, or let us know about random acts of mom-kindness that have brightened your day, whether you’ve been on the receiving or giving end.

Want more ideas
for creating a happier home life?

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Marketing Mommy July 13, 2010 at 1:19 pm

Offer a mom with a child 1 or 2 years behind your youngest good-condition hand-me-down toys, sports gear and clothes. If you’re invited to a playdate, bring along a dozen muffins or a loaf of banana bread. Or better yet, a bottle of wine.

If you’re headed to the park with your kids, bring an extra snack for the kid your child befriends. And if you’re going to a bounce-house type place, bring an extra pair of kid socks. Some mom will forget and will be eternally grateful to you!

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suburbancorrespondent July 13, 2010 at 1:56 pm

This is my philosophy, also. And wouldn’t you know, the one time I didn’t follow it, I looked pretty foolish.

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Adventures In Babywearing July 14, 2010 at 10:27 am

Alma, I always bring extra socks to the bounce house/play places!!

I’m really blessed to have thoughtful friends closeby- we are always emailing each other when we’re heading to the store or Starbucks and offer to make deliveries, little porch drops and what not. I think the biggest thing for me to overcome was allowing myself to accept their offers. I’ve always been willing to do for others but am not so good at accepting it myself and that’s part of the circle. And it’s awesome to be on the receiving end. :)

Steph

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Rachel July 14, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Good idea about the socks – our local soft play sells them but for astronomical prices. Sometimes I’ll email other Mum friends to remind them of something like that.

On a foot related note, I was round at a friends’ house for coffee this morning and when it was time to leave I helped her toddler put his sandals on as they were leaving too (I was without kids and she’d given me yummy cake so I thought it was the least I could do!). It made her smile and that made me smile.

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Lily July 15, 2010 at 7:23 am

Giving: Running over with napkins and a cup of ice for the stunned mom whose toddler had just fallen backward off his chair at the coffee shop. The other patrons looked at me like I had two heads, but I know I would have frozen in the same situation and would have appreciated the helping hand.

Receiving: MEGA-thanks to Takeon, who was checking receipts at the door of BJs Wholesale Club and noticed that I had been charged for an extra mega-box of Pampers New Baby Dry-Max Size 1 diapers. I have to admit my first reaction when he started inspecting my cart was annoyance, what with my screaming 7-week-old in her car seat perched atop the basket. But, dude, you saved me $40, and for that I am in your debt!

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Rachel July 18, 2010 at 11:41 am

I often feel like I’m the only Mom out there offering Mom Kindness. And, oddly enough…sometimes people look at me as if I’m crazy when I do.

I definitely have pity for the moms with two little ones close together. I always try to say something nice when they have the frazzled look on their face.

Especially if I’m somehow by myself, I always let the mom with the small children ahead of me in line. That was always when I Lost It (wait. We still do sometimes) and sometimes that extra 5 minutes is just what you need.

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Rachel July 18, 2010 at 11:44 am

Oh…and you can always tell who is a parent when your child starts vomiting in public.

My son…dead serious…6am…Christmas Eve…crowded Phoenix airport. Trying to get on plane to beat blizzard to Oklahoma.

My son waits until they start boarding the plane…and began vomiting everywhere. And it was one of those horrible airport breakfasts, too.

While most people recoiled in horror, we had several parents run to grab napkins for me.

To them, I am eternally grateful.

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Wendy July 19, 2010 at 11:00 am

This is really on my mind right now because I just traveled half-way across the country by myself with my 5yo and almost 2yo. In a day that was woefully short on helpful strangers, a wonderful mom at the O’Hare airport witnessed my lowest moment of the day — when the airline switched our gate for the 3rd time and I had to drag the kids and all our junk from the C concourse to the B concourse. Since she was traveling by herself she offered to help me and dragged one of our suitcases with the car seat hooked on all the way across the airport for me. THEN when we got to the gate she entertained the kids with post-it notes. Truly an angel!

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Kara July 23, 2010 at 7:50 am

When I was headed into the grocery store with my infant son (4 months) in a front carrier, a woman passing by hoisted my 5-year-old daughter into the cart so I didn’t have to. It was so nice!

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