e040 – Kids and Kindness for the Holidays with Maran Stern-Kubista
Maran is the founder of My Kindness Calendar - an innovative new tool to actively engage kids and support parents in practicing kindness together. Maran is passionate about empowering families to raise kind, compassionate and empathetic kids in an easy and accessible way, as she aims to do with her two kids at home. In her pre-mom days, Maran worked in senior leadership at one of Canada's leading social enterprises focused on youth empowerment and social justice, and as an intellectual property and entertainment lawyer in Toronto. She's also been an opera singer and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, and plans on lots of similar adventures with her kids as they grow up.
While on maternity leave with her second, Maran found the holiday season was too focused on the 'getting' aspect. Celebrating Hanukkah and Christmas, her 3-year-old daughter was preoccupied with what toys and gifts she was going to receive. When December came, she decided to create a "Kindness Advent calendar" and DIY'd a list of nice things to do for loved ones on colorful paper to surround a tree they crafted on the way. Rather than a toy or a chocolate, she wanted to balance out the conversation without taking away the gifting. It prompted many conversations from how to be a good big sister, a good friend and what it meant to be kind. Other friends and family members would visit and see the project and wanted to replicate the conversations that were happening. Maran decided to recreate this project so people who didn't have the time to DIY this project like she was able to, making it accessible and easy, and reusable. Rather than focusing on the punitive "Santa is watching!" Sabrina and Maran wanted to focus on giving back and how it does feel good to be able to offer and give things and actions for other people, rather than focusing on what we get.
This is a reusable, premium fabric-based deco that is super durable and can be used every year. And it gets played with, scrunched up and stuck places it's not necessarily supposed to be stuck. Every aspect of the design was meant to remove barriers and also be beautiful since it is being on the wall of your home. It grows with the children and isn't a kiddy design. This calendar has been sent all over the world, and knowing that the advent has spread internationally gives Maran the drive and passion to continue to grow.
Maran receives lots of positive feedback, especially on the conversations that come from focusing on the giving rather than the getting. She hears a lot from parents that it even reminds them to be kind to themselves as well. She can approach other situations and people with kindness. Starting a business as a mother often comes from things we want from and with our own children, and we want to replicate and give those opportunities to other parents. Getting the daily reminder to focus on those things like kindness and sharing, rather than another toy.
Sometimes we think that gifts of kindness are time-consuming or depends on resources we may not have access to, like time and money. But when it comes to acts of kindness, the small things count too. Maran wanted to capture a spectrum of things you could share kindness, whether its in your family, your neighbors, and yourself. The most popular kindness act is baking cookies for neighbors. Especially in the city, we can find ourselves isolated from our community. Another popular one is to tell someone why you love them, and why they are special to you. There's also some environment-friendly ones, like have an electricity-free night. It even starts conversations about issues on a global scale. Being kid-focused, most of the acts of kindness are executable without needing to invest money. There is even a 5-minutes or less sets, that focus on time friendly acts like holding open a door or picking up trash. It doesn't have to be complex, it is more about the repetition of thinking about service every day. Families often feel disconnected being busy and swamped with packed schedules and stressors. By focusing on these small tasks you do as a family, you find connection and growth. This is a kid-driven activity where they get to pick the activity and they get to decide what they want to do.
Sabrina found Maran through the charity Mamas for Mamas, and their motto is "Kindness is a Currency". The Kindness Calendar has decided to partner with Mamas for Mamas and will continue their mission to donate 5% of all profits towards their partnered charities. We have featured Mamas for Mamas on this podcast before with Jillian Harris. It is important for Maran to partner with charities that share core values with her and her company. My Kindness Calendar is running a few contests all over Canada to giveaway calendars through Mamas for Mamas to mothers and families who need an extra dose of care, especially during the holiday season. Each chapter is similar to a Buy and Sell page, but without exchanging any funds. Check out your local chapter and find out how to get involved!
YGTMama also has a holiday gift guide that features products and services that moms are looking for. Look for it on socials and in your inboxes soon.
Order your calendar here through our affiliate link and spread kindness this holiday season.
IG & FB: @mykindnesscalendar
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