When Kindness Pays Off

When Karma Meets Kleenex

by: Erica Ehm

When Kindness Pays Off

pay it forward

I'm on a mission to make the world a little kinder. I try to do small things in my life to surprise and delight people—making other people's days happier makes mine better. This is why I was thrilled to be a part of the Kleenex Kindness campaign.

My mission as a Kleenex Care Pack Ambassador was to pay it forward to deserving YMC members. Hundreds of entries for our Kleenex Kindness competition had to be waded through. The amount of generosity and feel good stories submitted by our readers was inspiring to say the least. Tales of charity, of giving back, and of surprising acts of kindness made it incredibly difficult for our judges to decide. In fact, rather than giving out five Kleenex Care Packs as planned, we ended choosing thirteen recipients!

But there could only be one Grand Prize winner who epitomized the essence of kindness. That winner would receive a $1,000 shopping spree plus a surprise visit to hand deliver the prize pack to their front door from me.

After much deliberation, the Grand Prize winner was chosen. Here's what Jody Matheson wrote for his entry:

"I have countless stories of random kindness, but I'm most proud of one my children did. They chose to donate their birthdays to charity. At ages 8 & 9, they recognized that there were kids who needed help more than they needed stuff. They invited everyone in the classes from school to a big play place, and asked only for a donation to City Kidz. No gifts.

Over two years, they raised close to $1,200.00. I sure would love to treat them to a shopping spree to show them that kindness pays forward. (I'm sure they'll pick a few things for the CityKidz baskets from that too.)"

In order to be able to surprise Jody, he was notified that he was one thirteen finalists of our Pay It Forward contest, and was told that I may or may not show up at his front door on a certain Monday morning at 11 am with a grand prize. 

The morning of, I was picked up by Kleenex staffers Sydney and Samantha, and headed out of town to Hamilton, Ontario for the big surprise. When we arrived, we were freaked out that Jody wasn't home! Whaaaat? We jumped back into our car and waited, fingers crossed that Jody would show. Thirty minutes later, he drove up with his wife Zanthe in tow to his home daycare and I was able to ambush him with his Kleenex grand prize. Score!!

Jody was totally surprised and thrilled to have been crowned the King of Kleenex Kindness at YMC, a delicious daddy being honoured by the yummy mummy crowd. I actually caught it on video which you can watch here:

It was really touching for me to meet Jody and his wife and hand deliver their $1,000 shopping spree: both are the embodiment of kindness. I have to admit I had to wipe a few tears of joy after spending time with them (cue the Kleenex).

And then I received a follow-up email from Jody with the photograph below which just blew me away:

"The girls had discussed, prior to winning, what they would do with the prize money if they won. They have been good to their word on this. They each donated $200 to City Kidz (total $400), the charity that benefited from their kindness in the first place. They then have decided to use half the winnings to go to Great Wolf Lodge, where they are also paying for a room and food for another family that we know that is in a financial pinch at the moment and could use a holiday. We plan to all go together in September. 
Finally, the girls will use a little of the money on themselves for books and clothing over the summer. 
In one way, it is easy to think about doing the right thing when the money doesn’t exist. It is harder to make it happen, when you consider all the ways you can use it for yourself. In the end, this was a great opportunity for the girls to learn that there is always someone that needs it more than you do, and when you can, share."
Thank you to Kleenex for allowing me to pay it forward. Thank you to everyone who shared their stories of kindness with us. And most importantly, thanks to Jody and his family for walking the talk. It's an honour to know you!

Lessons in Parenting for Edmonton Moms

Mom's Night Out at Kingway Mall

by: Erica Ehm

Lessons in Parenting for Edmonton Moms

balance and motherhood

It's Saturday night. I'm standing in the middle of Kingsway Mall in Edmonton on a stage, the mall empty except for 200 moms with filled wine glasses in the audience. This is my kind of party!

The topic I was invited to speak about to this group of moms was how to find balance as a mother. Instead, I spoke about the myth of balance and the pressure women are under to be everything to everyone. If you couldn't be in the audience that night, here are some of the points I covered that may be helpful for you.

Balance is a Myth
I see motherhood more as a rollercoaster ride which you can't control. There are times when life will be chugging along at a comfortable pace and everything is going as planned. But realistically, much of our time as mothers is reacting to forces and events beyond our control that cause us to frantically jump into damage control mode. My advice? Go with the flow and hang on for the ride. Know that these scary, out-of-control times will soon pass and life will go back to normal...for a little while. 

Accept Imperfection
If you try to be perfect you'll always fail. When it comes to parenting, work at being good enough. If you can honestly say that you're doing your best within the circumstances, you deserve a gold star! And a nap!

They say it takes a village to raise a child. So build a village and work together to lessen everyone's load. No shame in asking for help, especially when you can return the favour down the road. Teach your kids and partner to help; make them part of the solution, not the problem.

Don't be a Mummy Martyr
Pity the husband or partner who is trying to help around the house or change the baby's diaper with a wife criticizing every step of the way. Moms, stop it! Let your hubby do domestic things his own way. If it's not perfect, who cares? At least YOU'RE not doing it. And he is. Which is awesome.

Thanks to all the moms who handed their kids over to someone else for the night to hang out with me! It was great connecting with you. I'd love to know if anyone has actually put any of my suggestions into practice! Moms gotta stick together and share their expertise. And remember to take care of yourselves so you can take care of your family!

You can see the whole evening "Storified" here.

There's also a really insightful wrap up of the evening on UrbanInfant.ca which I thoroughly enjoyed :)

Finally, thanks to Sheri Landry from This Bird's Day for her awesome pre-event interview with me