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48 Random Acts of Kindness to Celebrate My Birthday

Random Acts of Kindness … Creating a Daily Habit

On my actual birthday, I was in bed sick all day and the day before that as well. It’s a good thing that I planned on doing 48 acts of kindness (not really random as some have pointed out since they were premeditated) in advance of my birthday.

Getting my kids to do it was also a bust. My new teen GrasshopperandSensei (just 13) thinks doing acts of kindness for my blog doesn’t count towards good karma. She thinks it’s all a big marketing scheme. Ditto for my 10-year-old daughter PickyKidPix who tends to side with her big sister. My 8-year-old son did not participate either. He needs prompting. Instead, he gives me lots of kisses.

My husband did a few but on my actual birthday, he was too busy as the single driver for our brood to have a moment to fit them in. My childhood friends too, sent flowers as they always do despite my plea for acts of kindness. A handful of Mom friends as well brought me lovely gifts and/or called me.

In truth, I hate my birthday. It’s not getting older. I don’t mind that at all. It’s the attention. I don’t like that at all. So, it was a relief to hole up in bed with my hacking cough and dizzy headache and sleep and sleep and sleep.

Perhaps the lesson here is that doing acts of kindness is a personal choice, not one to be easily coaxed out of loved ones. We each must make that choice every day, every moment with mindfulness as opportunities come up. Do you or don’t you? Sometimes you will without even realizing how kind you were. Sometimes, it is not to be. No time. No energy. No ability to give.

I found that I do acts of kindness without realizing it, little things like retweeting, holding the door or saying thank you. But there were many opportunities that I passed on. In tracking 48 acts of kindness, it was a like a food diary for me. It made me really think and try a little harder. Yes, it was for my blog but I still maintain that it counts. My kids can think otherwise.

And it’s weird that my desire to do random acts of kindness evolved into a gift that really benefited me more than others I theoretically helped. As I mentioned in an earlier post, when I first heard of Random Acts of Kindness as a way to celebrate a birthday, I was daunted to accomplish 48 acts in one single day. Instead, I started early, trying to do a few a day. Good thing too given that I was too sick to function for two days.

This slight change of mindset has become a habit. Strange that a few weeks is all it took. I fully realize that I’m receiving more than I am giving. Funny how it works like that! The gift of giving gives back tenfold.

What has your experience with Acts of Kindness been? Do you do them without really thinking about them? Does mindfulness work for you? Would you celebrate a birthday by doing them?

p.s. And my birthday turned out to be lovely. I get a do-over dinner with my husband when I feel better and it’s no longer my birthday. I got some much needed downtime. And for all of you that remembered, THANK YOU! You totally made my day!

48 Acts of Kindness (Some Random, Some Not)

1) Globe Santa. I did this before my birthday because I wanted to make it in time for Christmas. The Boston Globe newspaper has been helping needy families with Christmas wishes for years. We don’t get the paper anymore but I made a donation in the name of my kids.

Globe Santa

Kmart Layaway Angels. I tried to do this also, but you have to go into the store and there isn’t one near me. I called customer service to see if there was a way to pay online but there isn’t.

2) Indigogo. I donated a small amount to an author friend who wants to translate his The Monkey King’s Daughter adventure series into Chinese. This was also before my birthday but I was his first donor! My kids were thrilled to get a signed copy of his book!

3) Soup, bagels and cookie delivery. My mom friend Julie got into a minor fender bender and tweaked her neck. I dropped off some food so she wouldn’t have to deal with dinner.

4) My girls and I put money in parking meters at the parking lot near the Indoor Farmer’s Market. It was a lot of fun.

empty parking meter, acts of random kindness, random acts of kindness, RAOK

5) I am normally an impatient driver. Today, I waited patiently while one driver received lengthly directions and another took a long time to notice the green light. My oldest teased me that it was tough for me to do. Yes. Yes, it was!

6) I donated the evening to work on the Pinterest board gratis for Felix Doolittle, fine and customized stationery and gift items based on the watercolor art of artist Felix Fu, where my oldest is interning. Redid their boards and increased their following to help drive business to their site.

Felix Doolittle Pinterest

7) Does it count that we supported our local Indoor Winter Farmer’s Market? It’s the first year and business is slow for them. My girls said that they felt good supporting local businesses rather than a faceless supermarket chain.

hydroponic lettuce, newton indoor farmers market

8) Picked up random dog poop at the dog park and threw it away.

9) Helped Made the kids make holiday cards with a small gift cards for everyone at school: school nurse, secretary, classroom aids, school librarian, specialist teachers, teachers and principal. We were excited to gift their teachers inscribed copies of Grace Lin’s lastest book Starry River of the Sky from the author event we went to. Should have gotten them inscribed copies of Wonder too from the R. J. Palacio event but forgot to get them a copy.

10) Helped my oldest bake cookies for her school party tomorrow without complaining because I had forgotten she needed cookies until 5:30 that night. Luckily, we had everything at home to bake chocolate chip cookies.

11) Donated to the firemen at the mall on the crazy crowded last weekend before Christmas. They stood in the long car lines with firemen’s boots collecting for Muscular Distrophy. Even a fireman’s young daughter helped out. I gave to her.

Firefighters for muscular distrophy

12) Cheered for the opposing indoor soccer team when they scored and made great saves at goal. When any team is outmatched, they deserve support for fighting hard. I’ve been on both sides — when my kid’s team is dominating and when they are getting clobbered.

There’s nothing worse than watching your child’s team get clobbered while the parents of the other team cheer for every goal they make. Sometimes at tournaments or holiday weekends, the teams are just not evenly matched.

I cheer for underdogs! They deserve it!

indoor soccer, girls soccer

13)Recycled a month’s worth of plastic grocery bags.

14) Posted on Whole Foods Almost Midnight Madness Sale gratis because it’s so great that there is significant savings at this one night event which might make this grocery store accessible for people who otherwise find it too expensive.

15) Thanked the policeman who helped us cross the street at Symphony Hall. He said, “You’re welcome” back like he really meant it! 🙂

16) Tipped the women’s bathroom attendant. She sat on a chair in the bathroom and looked exhausted. The jar had just two dollars so added one more. Hope it cheers up her day!

tip jar, Boston Pops Holiday concert

17) Cleaned up the toilet paper off the floor of my toilet stall.

18) Gave a generous tip to our wonderful and knowledgeable waiter at L’Impasto, a new Italian restaurant in Cambridge. The food is delicious there and the prices are quite reasonable!

19) Rescued several spiders in my house (three so far!), and set them in my herb garden outside.


20) Checked my neighbor’s front door to make sure it was locked after my friend was robbed in our neighborhood. My neighbor was out of town and asked me to double check. Can’t be too careful! Luckily, it was locked!

21) Donated clothes to charity.

22) Donated food to local food pantry.

23) My husband got into the act and did some acts of kindness to help me celebrate. He put money into parking meter of car next to us that had no time left on their meter. A quarter bought 12 minutes; hopefully enough not to get a ticket.

random acts of kindness, rak, raok, random act of kindness

24) Held the door at the drop off at school. The little kids are in a rush to get into school when it’s cold outside!

25) Picked up trash at the dog park.

27) Read twice with my son in one day. Usually we just read at night but he is loving Percy Jackson so today we read two chapters. One in the morning and one at night.

27) My husband left a large tip at our favorite Dim Sum restaurant as a Random Act of Kindness on my behalf. I think Chinese restaurants typically pool their tips. Happy New Year to China Pearl!

large tip for random acts of kindness, China Pearl, best Dim Sum restaurant Boston

28) Refused plastic bags at CVS. Carried the small items in my purse instead.

29) A big dog poo pick up day. Picked up 8 piles of my dog’s poo in our backyard. Picked up a lot of dog poo at the dog park. 2 abandoned bags of dog poo and two piles of the stuff. (My dog pooped twice as well at the dog park.)

pick up dog poo at dog park, random acts of kindness

30) Was the designated driver for a night out with two mom friends. I only had one glass of wine so I could drive us home safely.

31) Contributed to flowers for my brother’s mother-in-law who fell and broke her clavicle. My sister engineered the flower delivery and used a coupon to boot. Thanks Noreen!

32) Shared an inspirational quote. (And more on failure here). The gospel I preach is that failure is the best teacher in the world. If you learn to embrace failure, you will have all kinds of interesting opportunities that other people are too scared to try.

inspirational quote on failure

33) Left nice comments on blogs that I read.

34) Complimented a mom on a job well done who was feeling down.

35) Geez. I wish I was 35 … 13 more to go! Arrived on time to the holiday shows I booked for my family. Good thing too, because Blue Man Group enjoyed outing and humiliating the couple who came in twenty minutes late to the amusement of the rest of the audience.

36) Did GrasshopperandSensei‘s household chores when she was sick without complaining.

37) Gave directions to the nice elderly couple who wanted to buy boots like the ones I was wearing. The store, The Barn, is great for warm winter boots but the sign is impossible to see from the street.

the barn shoe store Newton MA

38) Turn off all excess lights in the house. My kids are bad at this.

39) Skyped my sister, her family and my mom on Christmas. (Too bad my sister’s kitchen caught on fire during the call … more on that later!) Also caught up with my brother and sister-in-law via telephone.

40) Greeted everyone warmly at the dog park including the dogs.

41) Helped my kids take care of the new bunny across the street when my neighbor went on vacation.

42 My husband offered the tile guys redoing our bathroom coffee every morning they are here. He makes good coffee too.

offer coffee to handymen, random acts of kindness

43) My husband donated all our barely-used ice skates to families in our area who had girls with exact shoe size match.

44) Tweeted for a cause. (Will tweet for any cause as long as you tweet directly to me @PragmaticMom just because I can’t always read my stream of tweets).

45) Facebook Liked all the mom bloggers who needed help getting to their goal.

46) Voted for the Mom Bloggers in my Kid Bloggers Network group who were up for an award and asked for help.

Kid Blogger Network

47) Helped someone find a job. My mom friend Lori asked for help for her co-worker who relocated to Boston. Her field is not where I have contacts but remembered my babysitter alumnus who is awesome and offered to email introduce them.

48) Did not go ape sh*! when I found out that my hosting company has been billing me for months and months even though I moved my blog to another company a long time ago. Had to call, reset my password because who can remember it with it requires one upper case letter, a numeral and a symbol in order to cancel it?! Tried to stay Zen about the whole extra billing thing. Deep breath!


And there you have it. I was not able to do 48 Random Acts of Kindess in a Single Day. I am admittedly not a Super Hero or a Super Mom.

Still, doing them over the course of several weeks was a powerful experience for me to make a daily habit of it. I now think about opportunities (both missed and realized) to do a Random Act of Kindness that I ordinarily would not have done.

Since I finished these before my actual birthday, I will do more Random Acts of Kindness on my birthday. I’m grateful for this experience. It’s been the best birthday present ever! Thank you again to the mom bloggers who inspired me:

Inner Child Fun

Thumba Lea

Just a Bunch of Momsense


p.s. I will be joining a group of bloggers for 100 Days of Acts of Kindness. I will be blogging on Easy Every Day Acts of Kindness That Don’t Cost a Cent. This is the kind of movement I can get behind wholeheartedly!

acts of kindness, random acts of kindness, celebrate with acts of kindnesss

Little Passports

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. This post was SO inspiring PragmaticMom!

    It has been a long while since I read about several acts of kindness, not to speak of 48!

    You made me feel much better about life in general and I know I will be reading and re-reading this post.

    What a great lesson to teach your (ALL OUR) kids.

    Thanks for being such a great human being – in the name of all the rest of us!

    Read Aloud Dad
    Read Aloud Dad recently posted…The Island of AdventureMy Profile

    • Hi Read Aloud Dad,
      You realize that it took me several weeks to do 48 acts of kindess (not really random at all). It was funny because I suppose there are some acts of kindness that I (and everyone else too) do naturally so those didn’t really count. I tried to do things that I wanted to do but never did or came to a decision point (like poo in the dog park) and do the nicer thing. In the past, I might have picked up the poo some of the time, but not all of the time. It would depend on my mood. But this celebration exercise made me more mindful of the opportunities out there to do the nicer and kinder thing, and to actually do it. I was also surprised how resistant my family and kids were to doing a few acts of kindness of behalf of my birthday. They preferred to give a more traditional present. I guess you can’t force anyone and we will also do it when we are ready.

      Thank you so much for your kind comment. You totally made my day!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…48 Random Acts of Kindness to Celebrate My BirthdayMy Profile

  2. You did it!

    Happy (late) birthday, too!

    I think doing it counts, regardless of whether you blog it or not. I actually argue that blogging it can be an act of kindness – it reminds us that there is still a lot of good in the world, and motivates us as readers to be kinder as well.
    maryanne recently posted…Family Time and Back to SchoolMy Profile

  3. Mia, Happy Birthday! What a beautiful list of small, but meaningful, acts of kindness. Your kids may look like they’re not paying attention, but you’re definitely teaching them by your wonderful example. I’m reminded to do the same.
    linda recently posted…Feasting, Fetes and Parang– Christmas in TrinidadMy Profile

  4. Ann

    Wow that is quite an accomplishment! Maybe I should start now my birthdays in March! I lone the idea of putting money in other meters!

    Happy birthday!
    Ann recently posted…Rhymes with HeartMy Profile

  5. Happy Birthday! I am so impressed with your 48 Acts! I am definitely going to do this for my birthday this year- thankfully, it’s not until September! Haha! Just kidding! 😉 Sidenote- I found your blog earlier this evening and have been LOVING it (reading lots of posts). Earlier today I was in my garage shredding old pay stubs from many years ago- guess who my VERY first employer was out of college? Aquent! I worked in graphic design in San Francisco for The Gap, Stanford Online, and several businesses (some still around, some not) before I went to Film School at USC and then Law School at Berkeley (with a year “abroad” at UCLA). It is such a small world. Your blog is FANTASTIC! I am following it now- and also following you on Pinterest. You are quite inspiring. Bravo!

    • Hi Erika,
      What a small world! I love how blogging brings us all together!!! If you worked for Aquent in 1993, it was ME in SF. I was there though only briefly to help set up the Northern California offices. It sounds like you had some great client experiences and then went on to do some interesting things. Film school AND a law degree?!! Are you an entertainment lawyer by chance? Thanks for the follows. I will follow you back!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…ABCs of Graphic Novels, F through JMy Profile

  6. Elle Carter Neal

    Happy birthday. I hope you enjoy your do-over dinner.
    Elle Carter Neal recently posted…DyadMy Profile

  7. Renee C.

    Happy belated birthday Mia! I loved reading your list. I think you are underselling yourself. As Moms, I think that our acts of kindness often go unnoticed and certainly are often unappreciated. Every hug, kiss, bandaid on boo-boos; everytime we ask our kids how their day was; making meals, packing lunches, making cookies, cleaning clothes, decorating the house for Christmas, Halloween, Easter; planning family vacations, buying tickets for family events; driving our kids to soccer practice, swimming lessons, piano lessons… I could go on and on. We can think about those as responsibilities or we can see that these are all things we do also because we want to do it for THEM. As Moms we constantly put others’ needs ahead of our own – isn’t that the epitome of kindness?
    Renee C. recently posted…Do YOU want to be our next Featured Guest Reviewer?My Profile

    • Hi Renee C.,
      You are so nice to point that out! You are right, of course! I tried to start out with “random” acts to benefit strangers and I did do some but it was definitely outside my comfort zone. And I did need to think about it and plan it so it was more pre-meditated than random.

      I guess one of the benefits of parentings and/or being a caretaker is discovering that selfless love inside of us all. Mine didn’t really surface until I became a parent.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…ABCs of Graphic Novels, F through JMy Profile

  8. Lynn M

    How did I not know about this birthday “gift” you wished for yourself? I loved reading it and plan to read it aloud to M & S. Maybe S will ask for something similar from his friends for his birthday in a few weeks – he says this year he can handle a “no presents” or “donate to charity” in lieu of gifts. (Little does he know that the gifts from his annual b-day party usually get whisked into hiding and go to Toys for Tots the following year anyway!) Soon I, too, will have Random Acts of Kindness to execute…47 to be exact…I better start soon! I’m proud of you, Mia!!

    • Hi Lynn,
      Will you celebrate with Random Acts of Kindness? Let me know if you can get your kids to participate! My kids were stinkers. And if your child would or take Random Acts of Kindness instead of gifts, that is kindness personified!! I tried to do a no gifts party for my youngest, but he really wanted gifts and opted to write thank you notes instead. Baby steps for us, it seems!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…ABCs of Graphic Novels, F through JMy Profile

  9. Asianmommy

    What a lovely idea–your Random Acts of Kindness. I need to share this with my daughters.
    Asianmommy recently posted…China’s Year of the Snake StampMy Profile

    • Thanks Asian Mommy. Random Acts of Kindness seems to be an idea that is picking up steam especially after the Sandy Hook tragedy. It was really eye opening to me to try to do 48 acts and track it. I noticed when I was mindful about wanting to acts of kindness, there were many opportunities throughout the day that I’d otherwise pass over.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…ABCs of Graphic Novels, P through TMy Profile

  10. Lovely. Absolutely lovely. I love posts like this!
    Jen Fischer recently posted…Wordless Wednesday: AbundanceMy Profile

  11. Hi Mia, happy belated 48th! My 48th on 22nd jan too! I hadn’t seen your blog before today, but I am also attempting similar in next 2 weeks. I;ve had a small article come out in local newspaper, face book page 48 Acts of Random Kindness , trying to get other people involved in some way. I live in Cornwall, England, so a big hello from south west england! Well done about achieving your Acts, I’m at the begining of my list, so busy couple (& daunting) couple of weeks!

  12. Happy Birthday Mia! What a wonderful way to celebrate. I totally know what you mean though about celebrating, I hate celebrating my birthday, only because of all the attention. When everyone tells me on FB I get almost shy and want to hide the statuses. But this is a wonderful way to embrace it, my big 4-0 is coming up and I think I’ll follow your lead. 🙂

  13. I love that you celebrated your birthday by being kind. Happy belated Birthday! A kind act is a kind act, you warm someone’s heart either way.
    I often struggle with whether or not I should share on my blog my #RAoK but occasionally I do… I think when we share others will too.
    Your list of acts will inspire others to do the same. Thanks for sharing via Mommy Monday!
    Happy New Year!!!

  14. This is such an amazing idea…truly a great task to undertake but worth it for the emotional reward involved. I have heard of placing quarters in people’s meters but I must say you shocked me with collected dog poo in the park…that is definitely kind! 😀 Thanks so much for sharing this…
    Tiffany recently posted…#YouSaveFriday: Beauty In A Box…Just For YOU!My Profile

    • Hi Tiffany,
      Thanks so much! As for the dog poo removal, it was a little selfish too. I’ve stepped in others’ poo that was left behind so it helps me too to have it removed. I also don’t see my dog the entire time we are on our walk. He is off leash and runs ahead of me or lags behind so it could also be his old poo that I never noticed.

      It was such a great birthday to do acts of kindness; I ordinarily don’t like my bday much and this made it less about me.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Multicultural Children’s Book Day Coming Up!My Profile

  15. Great Mama!

    The kids learn through example. They see, even if they don’t want to participate. It’s not a fail, trust me.

    What great things you did. You know I heard of people paying down layaway at kMart and Walmart (I think) but I don’t know someone who actually did it. I don’t really do layaway, but I think it’s really nice that people where out there helping parents make a better Christmas for their children. I know it’s very stressful when you live paycheck to paycheck. And then trying to live up to all of the wants and such. I was very touched by the story – and am also touched by what you are doing. Just putting money in the meters is a really great thing – and something the kids participated in!
    Lisa Nelson recently posted…Picture Book Review – Red Light! Green Light! Splat! by Melissa Perry MorajaMy Profile

  16. Inspiring post. I believe small gestures of kindness add up to a big picture. Even a smile can make a difference to someone’s day. A belated happy birthday!
    Kriss MacDonald recently posted…Weekly photos – Project 365 #1My Profile

    • Thanks so much Kriss!
      I think you are so right about small gestures adding up (and I guess the opposite as well and I think back in at how I snapped at my husband when he called me when I was driving). You are right about a smile being powerful too! And a good reminder for me to focus on kindness!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Books for Kids To Celebrate MLK DayMy Profile

  17. This list of act of kindness was shared years back by you to make your birthday, but its amazing how useful and relevant it remains till this moment. Thanks for sharing.
    Micheal A recently posted…Usman Danfodio University (UDUSOK) Admission Screening/Post UTME For 2016/2017My Profile

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