I loved this article from Our Muddy Boots!
5 Ways to Serve Others With Small Children
I grew up in a family that serves others. From the time I was young we were involved in organized community service projects. When I married Kris, he too learned the importance of sharing our time with others, even when it means sacrificing time from our own lives.
Kris still volunteers when he can, but my time of service has come to a halt. I have two small children. While we occasionally put bags of toiletries together or send a service person a note, committing to regular volunteering is not in the cards for us right now.
Here are five ways that I serve others in every day life:
1. Talk to People who are Older
Whenever the kids and I pass a person who is elderly, we stop. I ask the kids if they would like to say “hello”. Owen usually does. Sometimes this makes us late, and sometimes I am tired and really want to hurry up the conversation. Instead, we watch the person to whom we are speaking light up with the joy that children bring.
2. Offer an Extra Set of Hands
When I see someone who needs another hand, I ask my children if they are up for helping. Sometimes they are and sometimes they are not (mostly they are!). We might each grab a bag of groceries to bring to a car, or stand outside with a (friendly!) dog while its owner steps inside for a coffee. It may be as simple as asking a fellow shopper if we can push their cart back for them.
3. Help A Neighbor
When our neighbors go out of town, they always ask Owen to collect their mail. He keeps a special bag in a particular place and takes his job seriously. If there is a day he does not feel like collecting it, I do it for him. Kids can receive community service too!
4. Give to the Food Bank
When the kids come grocery shopping with me, we buy a few extra food items; some for people and some for animals. This time of year there is always a collection bin at the exit of our grocery store. When there is not, we bring it to our Church or the SPCA.
5. Bring a Trash Bag
I am trying to get more in the habit of this! When we go for a walk through our local state park, we frequently find trash. Owen always wants to pick it up “to protect the Earth”. Bringing a trash bag allows us to enjoy our walk and perform community service at the same time.
Much like the rest of our lives, I want my children to develop an authentic desire to serve others. I believe that Kris and I modeling this through our own actions is the best way to accomplish this.
In another couple of years we will be able to commit to regular volunteering again, but for now we will look for opportunities in every day life.
I’m all about carrying a trash bag on nature walks, and the idea of helping others when they need a hand. I would also suggest involving kids in community volunteer activities – no child is too small to help adults clean up a beach or park, plant trees or a garden or deliver food or clothes to those who are in need. This involvement gives kids a sense of community, altruism and confidence in a good deed done well!
Photo from PBS.org