“‘I think you need a project. Something to keep your mind busy once the baby is here,’ my husband said. He was right. We had just found out I was pregnant with our third child. Although we were genuinely over the moon to be having another baby, we both had some concerns.
After the birth of our second son, I suffered from severe postnatal anxiety and depression for many months. I was tortured day and night by intrusive thoughts and irrational fears I was going to die. I stopped eating and barely slept a wink at night. I developed obsessive compulsions, which would have me checking my body for lumps and bumps in the mirror every few minutes, and my hair fell out in huge chunks.
With the help of my supportive family and a brilliant doctor, I made a full recovery—but, with the news I was pregnant again, I began to worry I would become ill for a second time. So, I needed a project. One that would allow me to occupy my mind—through lonely night feeds and long newborn days—and channel my thoughts in a positive way. Despite being on board with the idea, nothing came to me and I was starting to get anxious.
I needn’t have worried. As my pregnancy progressed, the world changed. Not just for our little family, but everyone. My project, born out of necessity, fell into my lap. The idea for the book club came to me during the first UK lockdown in March 2020. I had just given birth to Huw and had my other little boys, Amos (2) and Dylan (5), at home with me, too. We have always loved reading together, but books really came into their own during this strange time. We were able to use books to talk about how we felt, escape to other places, and cheer ourselves up.
As the global news got bleaker, amid protests and the pandemic, my boys had more and more questions. I realized now more than ever, it was essential to teach them about kindness. And not just kindness, but social conscience. Empathy. Compassion. Understanding. Self-love. Love for the planet.
But something was bothering me. For a long time, as a busy mom, when it came to children’s books if it wasn’t on a supermarket shelf, I wasn’t buying it. Now we were locked down, I realized this wasn’t doing us any favors when it came to talking about and understanding the world around us and how we can contribute to it positively with kindness and action.
My sons see themselves in the pages of the books we read regularly. They are knights on horseback, dinosaur keepers, doctors, pilots, sidekicks to all manner of woodland animals, and heroes. They are at the heart of the story. They are the story. But what about everyone and everything else? What about different cultures and different countries, strong girls and women, families who aren’t 2.4 children, and people with disabilities? And not just tokenism. Central protagonists, one and all.
I was sure other people would be interested in the inclusive books we were finding and wanted to share the pleasure they were bringing us and the awareness they were providing. So, the idea for the Kind Kids Book Club—a monthly book subscription service—was born.
I have three sons and, as such, I have a responsibility to raise them ready for a better world than this. I want them to bring about the change we so desperately need and I want them to live unencumbered by what society has always said they should be. Of course, so much needs to change. Society as a whole needs to be remodeled and reimagined. Structures, processes, systems, narratives. And not just for one particular issue—but for so many others, too.
But the good news is the little things matter. The influence we have, as individual caregivers in the lives of little people, can and will make a difference. I am a firm believer reading with children is a powerful tool. Books are an indomitable force for good. In an upside-down world where everything feels wrong, we need a road map for empathy, recovery, leadership, and community—and children’s stories can play a big part.
So, in our little corner of the world, our kindness project has begun and we’re starting with books—and you can, too. Here are my top tips for raising kind kids:
1. POINT IT OUT
Let your little ones see you regularly engage in kind behavior and let them know what you are doing and why you are doing it. Maybe it’s dropping some shopping off for a neighbor, phoning a friend, or smiling at passers-by? Whatever it is, be sure to chat about it and explain how it makes you feel. Similarly, if you see someone else doing something kind—in person or on TV—point it out, too.
2. BE KIND TO YOURSELF
We could all work on being kinder to ourselves, especially during these turbulent times. But allowing your children to see you looking after your body and speaking positively to, and about, yourself is a great place to start on the path to raising kind kids.
3. BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS
Reading with your little ones—especially stories that model inclusion, promote empathy, and celebrate kind acts—is an extremely powerful and absolutely invaluable tool for laying the foundations for raising the little leaders of the future.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Amie Jones of Wales, United Kingdom. You can follow their journey on Instagram and Facebook. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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