No this isn’t a call to arms. It isn’t a way to shame anyone or make them feel guilty. It is what it is. Some call it service. Some call it assisting the less fortunate. But it all boils down to one simple word:
As an advocate, I find a lot of people get that idea mixed up with volunteer. Don’t get me wrong, I do both. But sometimes, when I am attempting to get my kids involved in volunteering, I find it difficult to motivate them. To kids, volunteering sounds like work. And let’s face it, some volunteering is work.
We all know service is important and we all know we need to give back. It makes you feel good. It builds community. It creates a sense of belonging. It bridges gaps that other actions and programs are unable to bridge.
Boring service is sometimes necessary. None of us likes that stuff. The boring stuff is not for your kids.
Change your Perspective
AND you will change theirs.
For some unknown reason, people think volunteering or service has to be complicated. There has to be training and someone to supervise you. That’s what we all see as volunteerism. As service. But let me drop a little nugget in your ear. Volunteering and/or service does not have to be that complicated.
I wish this idea was originally mine but I got it from somewhere else and was reminded of it from Kristina Kuzmic – the Truth Bomb Mom on the Little Things Network. She’s awesome. If you haven’t seen her, look her up and give it a watch.
When it comes time to introduce them to service, I hit it up from multiple angles. The first is I make them do chores around the house. As a respectful mom, this feels a little against my beliefs, but I will tell you, once they realize everyone is responsible for the home, the better they care for it. And the more they learn to work as a team player as well as an individual. Personally, I feel like some of this is lost on kids now because of the misinterpretation of respectful parenting.
The second attack is much like Kristina’s. We go out and do good deeds. These turn out to be a lot of fun. Sometimes I do them with just one kid and sometimes all three. To be honest, it can backfire on occasion. For example, when you come out of the grocery store and every one of them insists on returning the cart. Before it becomes a big headache, I recommend the little one return our cart and the older two find a cart someone left out to return.
The shopping cart thing leads me into number three. I teach my kids the value of this statement, “Leave it better than you found it.” It’s a term I learned in Girl Scouts from my mother. She was our troop leader. I remember trips to the store where our cart was full of things. Half were ours and the other half were things my mom would meticulously return to their proper places on shelves and aisles. This taught me how to not do a half-assed job. Do the best job you can everywhere, every time.
But that’s not volunteering or service!
Many have told me this and I will prove them wrong every time. Here’s a few simple questions to help you evaluate if what you’re doing could be considered volunteering or service.
Am I giving my own time to do something for someone else?
Am I learning valuable skills that could translate to other parts of my life?
Could this help make someone’s day better (not having to corral the carts or perhaps getting a closer parking spot so you don’t hit one)?
See – not that hard. Now go do some service with your kiddos!!