Monday, August 27, 2012

Contingent Kindness

My baby and I are out on the town all the time.  We go to the park, supermarket, library, shopping, beaches, and all kinds of fun day adventures.  I must honestly say that more often than not, we are face to face with thoughtless and inconsiderate bystanders.  People watch you struggle with ten bags, a stroller, and a kicking toddler, and literally bump into you.  My favorite act of indecency is the mindless door slam when you are just two feet away and trying not to drop your child on their head.  While this is crude, by the time my day is over, I usually forget all about these episodes; they leave no lasting impression.

Last week however, my heart was touched, my soul was warmed, and I cannot stop thinking about this one simple act of cordiality that literally changed my day.  Little one and I were at the grocery store, where of course, my toddler refused to sit in the cart.  Normal toddler behavior, I walked slowly around the store, while she helped me push the cart, and threw supermarket merchandise in every direction. When my daughter was finished with this activity, she wanted to be carried for the remainder of the trip. I have this new olympic maneuver which I cleverly named the "the one arm foot push."  I carry my flailing toddler in one arm, and use one hand and one foot to push, steer, and turn the cart.

After checking out in this fashion last week, my daughter and I were leaving the store, and about to walk through the exit.  The woman behind me asked if she could help me.  Being shy, modest, and stubborn,  I said, "no thank you." This incredibly kind woman inflexibly insisted on helping.  She handed her full grocery cart to her husband, and took my cart from me.  This gentlewoman then walked my shopping cart all the way to my car, which was at the far end of the parking lot.  As she gracefully walked away, I welled up inside.  This stranger selflessly took time out of her day to help another able bodied person.

During dinner that night, I told the story to my husband, as I said, I could not keep myself from thinking about this random act of kindness.  While reciting this to my husband, he guessed that my story was about another shopper pushing me out of the way, or being rude in one way or another.  I excitedly corrected him, and confessed that I usually forget all of the rude people I encounter, and those stories never make it to our dinner table.  That moment I realized that good really does conquer evil, and that one act of kindness overpowers multiple acts of barbaric behavior.

I found it heartwarming and soul strengthening that in all of our stresses and anxieties, one simple act of generosity  made my day better, and created wonderful dinner conversation.  It was fascinating and touching that altruism  turned my day around, and eraded meaningless negative events.  I hope that when I said "thank you" to this stranger, she could hear the sincerity in my voice.  My husband suggested that I blogged about this selflessly good deed, and so I also want to say thank you to him for the great idea.  The world needs more stories like this.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Keeping Toys (semi) Organized!

I love the abundance of toys my daughter has, and I personally feel lucky that she can enjoy so many play things.  Knowing that not every child is as fortunate assists in my appreciation for her games, dolls, puzzles, books, blocks, and all the other toys she collects.  Rather than wish my house was bigger, or her playthings would evaporate, I do my best to keep them organized.  I do believe that some amount of toy clutter stimulates and develops a child's imagination, so I do not go overboard.  I like to think of my home as "pleasantly plump!"  I am not embarrassed to have unexpected guests, however, there is a cozy and lived in feeling when you come in to my house.

First, I completely accept  that having little ones means that there will be toys in just about every room.  I keep 1-2 pretty baskets or bins in the master bedroom, a toy chest and a bin in my daughters room, some shelves in the living room, and an empty drawer in the kitchen.  My daughter also has a playroom where most of her toys are kept.

Next, my husband and I decided on a few house rules concerning which toys are kept in which places.  For example, in my daughters's room we keep stuffed animals and some of her books, since her room should be associated with sleeping.  In addition, we decided to only have the amount of toys that fit on the shelves in the living room.  We do not want two playrooms in our house!

The playroom is probably the most challenging to keep organized, but my system seems to be working well for clean up time.  Besides the large floor toys which are always out, I have a toy organizer and four bins.  Each bin has a "general" theme.  Next to my daughter's play kitchen, I have one bin to store all of her kitchen/home accessories.  One bin contains arts and crafts, like crayons, construction paper, sticker, and stamps.The other two bins are larger toys like trucks, shape sorters,and instruments.  My little one's toy organizer is on the small side, so I use those small bins for the little knickknacks she collects that would otherwise have no home :)

I should also mention that all of my bins, except for arts and crafts, do not have lids.  This makes it easier for everyone to take out toys, or put them away.  Furthermore, at the end of every day, my husband and I spend about ten minutes clearing the floors of each room, and putting my daughter's playthings in a bin.

With general rules for where toys are kept, and having containers in many locations,  cleaning up is a breeze.  In fact, my toddler understands where some things go, and can help put things away as well.  Rather than keeping everything in one area, spread it out, and keep storage simple!