I want to raise my kids to love giving as much as receiving

Mama, as we head into another busy holiday season, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement and forget what this time of year is supposed to be all about—giving and gratitude.

We’re bombarded with retailer-manufactured holiday ‘cheer’ designed to encourage us to shop until we drop before Halloween is even over. It’s no wonder then that my kids get swept up in the consumerism surrounding the holidays.

If their wishlist to Santa is any indication, they like receiving presents…A LOT.

I struggle with the ‘gimme gimme’ attitude like many other parents, I’d imagine. At my very core, I feel it is my duty as a mother to raise grateful, compassionate and generous kids. But, I also want to give them the things they desire.

I want them to have more than I did growing up—but without spoiling them. So I feel conflicted. Because how are you supposed to balance the two?

To address this dilemma, my husband and I shine the spotlight on making memories as much as we can—visiting with friends and family, and finding the joy that comes with giving to others. In the same vein, we’ve adopted two specific rituals that focus on practicing gratitude, serving others and spreading (real) cheer.

One of our most cherished holiday traditions is adopting a family in need.

We do it every year and are sure to involve our girls in buying the gifts listed on the family wishlist. I’m not going to lie, initially they didn’t understand the concept of why we would give presents to strangers.

They couldn’t quite grasp the idea of some families struggling just to make ends meet, let alone having enough money to buy Christmas gifts. “But mama, they could just use their credit cards to buy stuff…” Unfortunately, that’s not how it works for everyone, sweetie.

Now that they are a bit older, both of our girls understand this tradition and get excited about helping to make a special family’s Christmas brighter. We still have frequent talks about the ‘haves and the have nots.’ Their brains are still processing.

Another favorite is our ‘kindness challenge’ throughout December.

Throughout the month, we challenge our kids to give back to their community by way of serving others. We have made and distributed sandwiches to the homeless, picked up garbage in our neighborhood, written appreciation notes for teachers and asked the girls to round up old toys to donate.

These small acts of kindness have impacted our family in a big way. They not only helped drive home the fact that not all families are as fortunate as us, but also taught our children that our hearts should always be open to helping others.

To be honest, not all of these challenges have always been warmly received. Case in point: my firstborn wrote a firm note in response to our “donate toys challenge” one year to say she “already had that one covered” since we bought presents for our adopted family. Ummm, not exactly the response I was aiming for...?

And while traditions are nice, my husband and I are very aware that we need to model the behavior we’d like our kids to exhibit. With that in mind, I have to practice restraint and remind myself I don’t need yet another pair of shoes in my closet—even if I want them.

I should be, and I am, grateful for what I already have. But hey—if I’m not willing to walk the walk, how can I expect to instill gratitude in my children’s mindset (who, let’s be honest, think that the universe revolves around them most of the time), right?

Fostering gratefulness, compassion and the joy of giving is very much a year-round effort in our household. And with each year’s passing, we see more and more of the fruits of our labor.

We’ll catch our girls making lists of friends to give presents to, or spotting something in a store and asking if we could by it for our ‘adopted’ family. These moments make it all worth it.

Because by giving to others, you receive something that money can’t buy.

By giving your time and energy to others, you fill up your emotional and spiritual cup.

By giving physical gifts to others, you gift yourself a little slice of happiness.

By giving your talents to others, you receive positive vibes from the universe.

By giving of yourself, you receive a heart full of love and a spirit full of joy.

And that’s what this season is all about.✨

Who says you have to wait for birthdays or holidays to give your bestie a great gift? A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs in these more-than-trying times. We've rounded up some of our favorite go-to gifts that are certain to be a bright spot in her week. But be warned, you may want to snag a few for yourself. (You deserve it, mama.)

Here are some our favorite "just because" gifts to give our hardworking mama friends.

New Mother face + body care duo

volition face + body care duo

This correcting oil and stretch mark minimizer is perfect for the pregnant mama looking to keep her pregnancy glow. The correcting oil brightens the skin while reducing dark spots, and the stretch mark minimizer works to smooth her ever-growing belly.


Allover roller

esker allover roller

This jade roller goes beyond your typical face roller and can be used anywhere on the body. It works to increase stimulation and reduce puffiness and is perfect for applying any oils to the face or body. Plus, it feels like a mini spa treatment.


Kombucha making kit

farmsteady kombucha making kit

What could be a more perfect gift for the health-obsessed friend? This kombucha making kit comes with everything you need to brew your own homemade green tea kombucha. They'll think this is the tastiest gift ever.


Laetitia lipstick

cupid & psyche laetitia

This red lipstick is perfect for your makeup enthusiast bestie who is looking to spruce up her life in quarantine. Crafted in the United States, these bee and vegan-friendly and cruelty-free lipsticks are created to flatter all complexions. Cupid and Psyche Beauty makes finding the perfect red lip way too easy!


Jigsaw puzzle

inner piecec jigsaw puzzle

Mamas need to destress now more than ever during quarantine. This adorable jigsaw puzzle is perfect for the mama who needs a brain break! The 500-piece puzzle designed by artist Ray Oranges features an abstract gradient design that fits a standard frame when completed. Bonus: It's printed on recycled paper and the company donates $1 from every puzzle sold to youth mindfulness programs.


Matilda's Bloombox

matilda's bloombox

If we have to be stuck inside, we might as well have some gorgeous florals to brighten up the space. Matilda's Bloombox locally sources blooms, delivers them to her door and provides simple tips on how to arrange it into a beautiful bouquet.


'I Am Enough' bracelet

I Am Enough bracelet

Let this dainty bracelet serve as a constant reminder to your bestie that she is enough. She'll wear this on her wrist and read this daily oath to herself, "I Am Enough."


Glow assorted teas

vahdam low assorted teas

This tea gift box set covers the entire spectrum of flavors from sweet to spicy. Individually packaged in beautiful tins, your gal pal will feel like a queen sipping her morning tea. Originally $40, this set is currently on sale for just $24. We'll take two, please.


Find your voice journal

find your voice journal

Journaling is a great way to ease anxiety and will slow your bestie's racing mind before bed. This gift is perfect for first time journalists and includes prompts, daily quotes and coloring pages to help her unlock her potential and find her voice.


Premium frother

shore magic premium frother

This gift is fitting for your latte-sipping bestie who can't go a day without her coffee. All she has to do is add two scoops of collagen to her favorite drink, and she'll have a perfectly foamy drink ready in seconds. Skipping the drive-thru line has never been so easy!


Bath soak infusion kit

maude bath soak infusion kit

Say hello to hydration! She'll be feeling smooth and relaxed as ever after a long bath soaking in these salts. This vegan + cruelty-free set incorporates dead sea salt and dehydrated coconut milk powder for an ultra hydrating experience.


Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

It's a hard-earned title she answers to a hundred times per day. Whether she's new to the club or a seasoned professional, this delicate script 'mama' necklace is guaranteed to be a perfect fit.


Superfood honey

Beekeeper's Naturals B.Powered honey

With a lack of sleep and jam-packed days, getting through the afternoon can be a real challenge. Send her a powerful pick-me-up in the form of a therapeutic blend of royal jelly, bee pollen, propolis and raw honey. It makes the ideal companion for tea, smoothies, yogurt or even on its on.


Calming midnight mask with melatonin

Who doesn't deserve a reminder to pamper themself every once in awhile? Even better, this mask does all its work at night while you're sleeping with no extra effort needed. It's an amazing plant-powered antioxidant-packed mask that has melatonin, wild dandelion leaf and hyaluronic acid to rehydrate, repair and reset facial skin. It's so good, you might want to gift it to yourself. We won't tell, mama.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


My belly has been through some things.

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It's my personal opinion that this belly deserves some love. So starting with my second pregnancy, I've relied on Belly Bandit's postpartum belly bands (which I own in three sizes) to help support my core, reduce swelling, and begin to activate my midsection after nine months of being stretched to the max.

Here's why I love Belly Bandit:

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