I never understood the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child,” until I had one of my own.
Here are ten simple ways to support another parent. I promise you will make their day! How do I know? These are all random acts of kindness I have received (and paid forward) from fellow parents over the years.
1) Offer to take back the empty shopping cart from the parking lot.
This startled me the first time someone did this for. I didn’t even have a specially designed kid cart! I was holding my toddler, who was starting to fuss, when another Mom walked over with her young daughter and offered to take our cart. When her daughter asked her Mom why she took the cart she responded, “Because Mommies need to stick together.” She’s right. We do.
2) Have your kids help another child look for the special toy they lost at the store.
Thank you to the Dad who witnessed my son losing his Lego toy in a store. Without missing a beat he turned to his older boys and said, “Boys, pitch in! You know how important this is.” And they did.
3) Ask if you can buy hot chocolate for your child’s friend during a freezing cold sports event.
An outdoor swim meet in the pouring rain is surprisingly cold, even in the middle of summer. When another parent offered to buy my child a cup of hot chocolate, I took them up on it. At the next swim meet we bought a snack for the other child.
4) Offer your spot in line to the parent with the screaming child.
It was close to nap time but I thought, “One more errand! We can do it.” By the end of the errand my child was screaming and I was doing everything I could to get us out of the store. That’s when another parent said, “Why don’t you go in front of us?
5) Send your friend an electronic gift card for pizza when you know their spouse is out of town.
My husband travels a lot and one time my good friend sent me an electronic gift card so I could buy pizza for the family one night. It was out of the blue and meant the world to me.
6) Pick up and return the shoe or sock the baby just dropped.
Without the watchful eyes of other parents, we would have lost so many socks and shoes. So be on the look-out for the talented babies who pull off their socks and shoes while Mom or Dad turns to get that product from the shelf.
7) Offer to share a snack with another family who ran out.
“I’m still hungry,” is one of the worst things to hear when you have run out of snacks, are trying to avoid the vending machine, but you’re stuck where you are for a few more hours.
8) Hold the door open for the parent pushing a stroller.
Obvious suggestion, right? You’d be surprised how many people do not hold open doors for parents with strollers.
9) Have an alternative dessert for the child with food allergies.
My children love birthday parties because of the dessert. One was on a gluten free diet for a period of time. It meant so much to me when another parent happened to have a dessert option that fit my child’s diet restrictions. For what it’s worth, sorbet is a good diet-friendly dessert alternative because it’s dairy free, gluten free, and peanut free.
10) Give a supportive smile to the parent who just had to discipline their kid in public.
When another parent has to follow through on some tough love in a public setting, giving them a supportive nod, a knowing smile, or a reassuring, “You’re doing a good job! I’ve been there!” can mean a lot.