7 Ways to Share Our Luck through Family Acts of Service

Nothing makes me feel more like a bumbling idiot than trying to explain an abstract concept to my preschooler. With talk of St. Patrick’s Day abuzz at his school, my four-year old recently asked me what “luck” meant:

“Well, it’s when good things happen to you!” (I decided not to get into the “bad” variety of luck here.)

“Like when you give us frozen waffles for breakfast?”

“Not exactly . . . it’s more like when good things happen to you that you weren’t expecting.”

“Hmm. What does . . . prespecting mean?”

“Expecting? Um, it’s kind of like when you’re waiting for something.”

“Like when I’m waiting for you to cook us frozen waffles for breakfast?”

” . . . oh look, Sesame Street’s on!”

While I might not be able to explain the concept of “luck” to my son outside of a frozen waffle metaphor, I know that there’s no better way to learn than through doing. If we could think of “good luck” as simply “good fortune,” then perhaps I could show my kids examples of it in everyday life.

That’s why I’ve decided to make fun acts of service–making and sharing our luck!– a family resolution this year.

So how on earth do you do this with the preschool and toddler set? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Host an acts-of-service themed play date.

For Valentine’s Day this year, I had several mom friends come over with their kiddos. We decorated simple heart-shaped Valentines to give to the families at our local Ronald McDonald House and collected a few needed items off their wish list as well. The kids spent maybe 15 minutes decorating and the rest of the two hours playing, which is as good as you can expect for any young child. This type of play date can be applied to any holiday or occasion: decorate cookies and take them to your local fire station, create holiday-themed ornaments to give away to friends and family, or even just host a play date where you bring canned goods for a food pantry.

Our finished cards for families at RMHC Richmond.

2. Collect your child’s drawings and send them to a nursing home or community shut-ins.

One thing I’ve quickly learned while having two preschool kids is that there is no possible way we can hang on to every scrap of art they bring home, no matter how sweet. I’ve begun mailing these to a few elderly women in my community who aren’t able to get out much. It’s a simple, quick, and wonderful way to bring a little joy to their day.

3. Are your kids animal lovers? Take some donations to the SPCA!

We spent one Saturday morning at our local pet store letting the kids buy a few items off the Richmond SPCA wish list, and then taking them into the shelter as a family. The boys handed over their donations with pride, and then we visited the cats and dogs (and, amazingly, did not bring any home!).


Collecting and taking our donations into the Richmond SPCA.

4. Assemble care packages to send to soldiers overseas or to donate to a local homeless shelter.

If toddlers are good at anything, it’s putting things in boxes (and taking them back out again, but I digress). Let them help you organize a few care kits to give to those in need.

5. Set up a play date at a local nursing home.

This one requires more organization and coordination–calling the nursing home in advance to see if they’re interested in and can accommodate a play group, ensuring there is space, bringing toys and books for the kids to play with, etc. However, I’ve had friends put this together in the past with the utmost success.

6. Let your children collect and donate outgrown clothes, books, and toys.

Bonus points: you pare down your playroom!

7. Take a Random Acts of Kindness walk.

Load up a bag of treats (stickers, candies, etc.), take your kids for a walk, and let them leave the goodies for strangers to discover. Be sure to attach a note explaining your random act of kindness. It will be sure to brighten someone’s day!

With all of these activities, discuss the purpose with your kids. Keep it simple and in terms they can understand, while emphasizing empathy (“We’re giving these treats to people who don’t have any! How do you think that will make them feel?”). And above all, have a good time!

It’s important that your kids see that helping people is fun, and that by making others happy, we inevitably feel lucky ourselves.

What about you, mamas? Do you participate in family acts of service? How do you spread luck and cheer in your community? Comment below and let us know!