Our Kindness Challenge Advent Calendar to Countdown to ChristmasWe’ve never done chocolate advent calendars here, and our elf on the shelf experience was an absolute nightmare. Seriously, it was so bad that she got sold on eBay last week. This year we’re giving something completely different a go, and the children will have kindness challenges to complete each day.   

I’ve already decided that my word for 2017 is going to be kindness. For a multitude of reasons, but ultimately because we need more of it in the world, and especially so in my little family.

It will be great for the kids to consciously think about doing nice things for other people. I’m hoping that all the extra kindness will lead to gratitude, happiness and a jollier family in general going into the new year. We’ve wasted far too much time of late being stressed out, and life’s too short to be living like this.

Our kindness challenge list

1st: I’ve signed us up for the Met Police Christmas Tree Project, which means buying a gift for a local child who might not receive one otherwise. We have been assigned two girls aged 12 and 16, and a boy aged 14. Our first challenge will be sourcing their presents, which need to be wrapped and taken to our local police station by the 9th.

2nd: Make cards for faraway friends, and take to the post office.

Our Kindness Challenge Advent Calendar to Countdown to Christmas3rd: Be super quiet first thing, to make sure Daddy gets some extra sleep.

4th: Be super quiet first thing, to make sure Mummy gets some extra sleep.

5th: Make salt dough tree decorations, and extras for friends we are seeing before Xmas for their trees.

6th: Make a nice card and some drawings to send to Nana in her care home.

7th: Have a clear out and donate all the stuff that doesn’t get worn or played with anymore.

8th: Sit for ten minutes in a circle, and tell each other the things we are grateful for.

9th: Make cards and wrapping paper for gifts for friends that we’re seeing for lunch on Saturday.

10th: Be super quiet first thing, to make sure Daddy gets some extra sleep.  

11th: Be super quiet first thing, to make sure Mummy gets some extra sleep. 

12th: Help mummy put the photos she’s had printed into albums.

13th: Think of three reasons why we love each member of the family.  

14th: Freddy gets to choose a Xmas movie to watch, without any fuss from his sisters. 

Our Kindness Challenge Advent Calendar to Countdown to Christmas15th: Clara gets to choose a Xmas movie to watch.

16th: Polly gets to choose a Xmas movie to watch.

17th: Be super quiet first thing, to make sure Mummy gets some extra sleep.  

18th: Be super quiet first thing, to make sure Daddy gets some extra sleep. 

19th: Write a story or draw a picture of a happy memory from the year, and give it to another member of the family.

20th: Make cards and gifts for Clara’s teachers at school. 

21st: Make a video to send to Grandad George. 

22nd: Make gingerbread cookies for our neighbours.  

23rd: Wrap gifts for the family to give to them on Boxing Day.

24th: Go through the 2016 memory jar, and relive our happiest experiences from the year.

kindness challenge advent calendar

we need to stop fighting over who has it the hardestEarlier this week I posted an article about how hard it is not being able to take my autistic daughter’s sadness away (you can read it here if you like).

Don’t get me wrong, there are many other things that are hard. As my children grow older though, I’m learning that the very hardest thing is seeing them suffer (in any capacity) and not being able to do a damn thing about it.

I was feeling super low

I posted the blog on one of the home ed Facebook groups I’m part of. Lots of parents in the group have autistic kids, so I asked if anyone had advice for me. Some offered hugs, some thought I was saying how hard home ed is so gave me solutions for a different problem, and a few came back with absolute gems of wisdom. I’m very grateful to everyone who took the time to write a comment, because almost everything everyone said will come in useful at some point. This is community at it’s best. 

Unfortunately a few also decided to kick me while I was down, and remind me how lucky I am to have the life I have and how hard their own lives are in comparison. The nicer people in the group reminded them that I’d gone there for support, and those comments aren’t helpful.

I’m no stranger to having a hard time

Between my difficult childhood, where I suffered abuse and bullying, emerging into adulthood at fifteen, and a decade of self-destruct, I had a rockier start to life than anyone else I know. I had two mental breakdowns by the time I was twenty six, but when rock bottom finally came, it didn’t leave me broken in the gutter forever. It was the start of a journey to happiness, and mental stability. (You can read more about it here if you wish).

Ten years on and I’m able to constructively look at my life, and the lessons it’s taught me. I try as much as I can to have a positive outlook, and not to let my mind wander down the ‘why me, it’s so unfair’ road. But I still have my wobbles. As I’ve said time and time again, we aren’t robots, and we should allow ourselves our feelings. 

we need to stop fighting over who has it the hardestThis week was a wobbly week, for many reasons. When I was at my absolute lowest and weakest I reached out for support. I find it unbelievable that some people (albeit the minority) would feel that that would be the best time to essentially tell me to stop whingeing. That they have it harder, and I should just focus on the positives.

It’s got me thinking about how much one upmanship goes on, and how much it needs to stop!

My husband and I waste a ridiculous amount of our energy arguing over who has it harder. Him for going to work on four hours sleep, or me for being with the kids 24/7. Even in the midst of a squabble the rational side of my brain is saying “it’s equally hard”, but the irrational part is saying “no Reneé, you have it harder!”

How many times have you heard your friends complaining about their kids, while you sit there thinking “but, you have it so easy!” I know I’ve it done before. Especially when people complain about the few months of tiredness after having a newborn. We all know that will pass, and quickly, but at the time it’s difficult to get the perspective we need.

Politics, money (or lack of it), religion, how many kids we’ve got and how much or little they sleep, or behave themselves. There are so many things during the course of the day that we can allow ourselves to be consumed by, and get annoyed with each other over. But you know what? It doesn’t help. Not one little bit.

The thing is, it’s all relative

we need to stop fighting over who has it the hardestSome people’s problems might not seem like much to you, but they are to them. There could also be things they are keeping to themselves that are contributing to their woes. For whatever reasons, they might not be able to deal with the hand they were dealt as well as you can, but that isn’t always due to lack of trying.

Next time you come across someone having a crap day, don’t kick them in the guts. Offer them support. Show them love, and kindness and compassion. A shoulder to cry on if they’re close by, a virtual hug if they aren’t. Don’t tell them that you have it harder and they should just pretend everything’s hunky dory. That’s how breakdowns start.

Even my hardest days clearly seem like a walk in the park to others, and I’m sure that their lives would seem easy to some. On the flip side, there are plenty of people I know who tell me that reading my blog makes them feel better about their own problems, and that I always put things into perspective for them.

There will always be someone out there, somewhere, having a harder day than you, but life’s challenges are not a competition. Can we please stop treating them like they are? 

Remember, kindness is cool ❤️