Over the past year, my husband and I have realized that we may be missing the mark a bit with our parenting. Even though both of our kids are still young, the “give me’s” have been getting more and more intense. Can you relate?
Every store we walk into they ask for new things. When toys break the response is, “let’s just buy a new one”. That may have worked a little over a year ago, but now as a stay-at-home Mom, we are on a single fixed income and “just buy a new one” isn’t going to fly. Plus, raising an entitled child of a Millennial or Zennial– the Gen X/Millenial hybrid (or whatever I’m considered), isn’t on my parenting wishlist.
We’ve tried talking to the kids about giving back. We’ve attempted to explain Community Service (which is incredibly hard to explain, for the record), and talked about being grateful, but it seems to only last in their mind until the conversation ends. We all know talk is cheap. Even for kids, it rings true.
Back in our good ol’ college days and into our pre-kid life, my husband and I did a lot of community service work. We spent more time giving back. But let’s face it, we don’t have the luxury of extra time the way we used to. At least that’s been the excuse. We’ve settled for just giving a donation or donating to someone else who is doing something for a good cause.
So we recently decided we wanted our kids to see us giving back. And, we wanted them to help us give back to others, too. Just after Hurricane Irma, we all went and filled boxes for victims in Puerto Rico. I was surprised at how well they helped.
Community Service and the Holidays
Doesn’t it seem like the “I want it” war cry is louder than ever around the holidays? To keep community service our goal during this season, we have been on the hunt for community service projects that are family friendly.
Here is a list of community service projects to get your kids more focused on doing for others during the holidays:
Unfortunately, a lot of the elderly spend the holidays alone. This can be a very a difficult time for those who don’t have visitors close by. Making holiday cards with your kids and taking them to the center is a great way to give back. This is great for really young kids; they help bring a little joy just by handing out cards. Be sure to contact the Activities Director or Volunteer Coordinator to schedule a time to go by.
Beach or Park Clean-up
Another easy service project is beach or park clean-up. This helps kids understand the importance of throwing trash away and helping the environment. You may even inspire some passers-by to do a good deed too! All you need is a trash bag and gloves.
Googling local charities is always an easy way to find local community service projects. Most charities will have a calendar posted on their site for ways you can get involved. Contact the volunteer coordinator and confirm the age range they can accommodate.
If you are local to Orlando, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida has shifts for kids 10 and up, and there’s even Family Nights for families with kids 5-9yrs old. Other Orlando charities include Baby DJ, a program created to provide assistance to families of economic disadvantage in the Central Florida area (great for kids 14 years and up). Servant’s Heart Center partners with Orange County Public Schools to help get food to kids in need and also have family friendly evenings. Please contact the volunteer coordinators to confirm shift times, ages that can help and what they are in need of the most.
Sponsor a Family
With different organizations like the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program or the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots, kids can sponsor a child their same age and give a toy they’d wish they could receive. This may be a tough concept for little kids but may have a huge lasting impact knowing that they gave a gift to a “friend” they’ve never met.
I hope this list inspires you and your family to get out in your communities to give back to others.