Last week our family went on a little getaway, the first with all three of our boys. Since we weren’t sure how well 6-month-old Isaiah would travel (he won’t take a bottle or pacifier at all, which has been fun), we knew we might have to make more frequent stops. That’s why we decided to vacation a little closer to home, picking an area within a 5- to 6-hour drive from us. We also decided to go for only 4 days.
In preparation for this grand adventure, I made an extensive packing list, stocked up on car-friendly snacks, printed out some drive-time scavenger hunt sheets and other traveling activities for kids, and created an on-my-visor behavior clip chart to help our older two boys stay on track.
(You can read more about how that worked and get additional tips and tricks for traveling with kids from me and other moms in this post on The Merry Momma.)
The night before our road trip started, Brad was praying with our boys at bedtime. Toward the end of the prayer, he asked that God would use our trip to bless not only us but others.
And God gave me an idea immediately of a very easy way to accomplish that and make our family vacation about more than just us.
The morning of our trip, we loaded the car, got the boys settled, and I hung the clip chart string on my visor. Then I put 3 large wire clothespins on the left corner of my visor. Even Brad looked at me in confusion.
“What are those for?” Elijah asked.
So I explained.
“These three clips are for the three big days of our vacation. Last night Daddy prayed that our trip would bless others, right? Well, each day our family will do a random act of kindness or find someone we can help. When we’ve completed our task for the day, we’ll take a clip down. Until we do, though, these clips will remind us to be on the lookout for ways to be kind, encouraging, or helpful to other people.”
My boys, especially Elijah, were excited about the plan, and they began coming up with ways we could bless someone.
Over the next few days, amid the excitement of hotel stays, daily adventures, and eating out, I was surprised by how often my boys (or my husband or I) would mention an idea for a random act of kindness. Their suggestions weren’t always feasible, but at least I knew they were busy thinking of others.
So what DID we do?
Our first fun act of kindness was passing out ice cream bars to a group of construction workers staying at our hotel. They had been sitting outside when we took the boys out to the pool early in the evening, and they were still there later when we were headed out to get a treat at the nearby Dairy Queen. Before we left the restaurant, we grabbed a pack of ice cream bars, just in case they were still outside when we returned.
When they questioned us about the gift, we just told them that we wanted to do something nice for others as a family and show God’s love. I’m not sure who enjoyed the surprise more – our boys, who were very excited to share, or the men and ladies who were delighted with not only the ice cream, but seeing our boys’ excitement to share with them.
We earned our next day’s clip in a more subtle way. Since much of our day had been spent exploring a state park (and on a weekday), we didn’t interact with many other people until we went to dinner. Throughout our meal, I noticed that our waitress seemed a bit stressed, and while our boys weren’t behaving badly, they were energetic enough to add a little more chaos to the atmosphere.
We didn’t try to initiate much of a conversation with her or find out how her day had been going because, honestly, when you’re wrangling three little boys during mealtime, it’s much kinder sometimes to focus on keeping your children’s mess and noise to a minimum and just let people work. But I knew that she should be on the receiving end of a little kindness before we left. Even though I didn’t mention my observations to Brad, halfway through the meal, he quietly suggested to me that we leave her a substantial tip (far more than just 20%) as our kindness for the day. So we made sure to express our appreciation for her attentiveness and excellent service both verbally and monetarily.
Our third clip…well, we actually didn’t get to do anything for our last clip, which really bothered our boys. The last day of our trip was spent mostly traveling home, and we didn’t even go through a drive-through, so the easy idea of paying for the person behind us couldn’t even be used. When we did stop for dinner, there weren’t any other people in the restaurant until we were leaving.
However, I don’t feel as though it was a failure because, again, my boys were looking hard for opportunities to help others (whenever we were around other people. Haha). And I know that the two clips that we used were definitely ones that God directed us to do.
So despite only accomplishing two out of the three things, getting my boys to think of others often during our family vacation and knowing that we were obedient in doing what God asked us to when the opportunities were there, to me means that we were successful in making our vacation about much more than ourselves.
And those three clips will be staying in the car so that we can continually be reminded to think of others and look for ways to be kind, helpful, and encouraging every day.
(Next vacation I plan to be much better prepared to continue this tradition, so check out the links and resources below that I’ve found with ideas we can use.)
Super Easy Act of Kindness for Kids (We are TOTALLY doing this soon!)
HOW DOES YOUR FAMILY SPREAD KINDNESS?
Feature picture background courtesy of Pixabay.