My annual resolution to regularly volunteer with my kids is failing. Already. Again. I want to get my kids volunteering more. I’ve been saying this for about three years.
They need to step outside of themselves and gain some perspective about life. I’d like them to do this regularly. Not just a handful of times per year. I’d like them to stretch their comfort zones and feel what it’s like to marinate in the unfamiliar and maybe be a little uncomfortable.
I feel like I resolve to do this every year and somehow it slips to the bottom of the list. Funny how I never forget to sign up for soccer or make Spring Break plans. But volunteering? That always seems to fall by the wayside.
I Have Commitment Issues
I think part of the problem is that we don’t really belong to a community that has a sustained commitment to volunteering. Our school community, and really anyone I know, is always ready to lend a hand if there is a call to action. Our church community (can I call it that if we rarely attend church?) sends out emails periodically to deliver food boxes and we participate.
All of our efforts feel half-hearted, I have to admit. As a family we have tried restoring children’s books, packaging food at the food bank, and buying presents for a family in need at the holidays. After the activity we do feel like we’ve helped. But not much. Our best activity took place last year when my son had an assignment for school to make kits for the homeless and distribute them on his own time with an adult. The whole family got involved. We all loved it and got the itch to make and distribute more kits. And we did. Immediately. But then not since.
What would it take to motivate me to action? You would think that maybe watching my kids argue or complain that something isn’t fair would do it but I admit I just can’t tip over to the commitment side of things. There is plenty of research supporting that volunteering is good for kids. I know that like most things, just scheduling it and getting started is the hardest part. Every so often I try to decipher what would be the best fit for my family and then just end up doing nothing. I volunteer on my own with a foster care organization but I schedule it for myself in my free time when it doesn’t affect my family activities. Why? I have no idea. It’s ok if helping others juts up against our free time
Ready to Get Started?
Hopefully admitting this publicly will help me tip the scales into action. If you are like me and hoping to volunteer this year, here’s some local spots to check out. You may have to search a bit for child-friendly activities but they are there.
Let’s do this!
Hands on Greater Portland is a great place to find shorter projects that are suitable for kids ages 4-10
Catholic Charities offers a lot of opportunities for mentoring and working with refugees in many different capacities.
Meals on Wheels Senior citizens often have limited resources and experience social isolation. Meals on Wheels provides food to seniors both in their homes and at dining centers. While you have to be approved to work if you are 14-17 years old, kids of any age are welcome to help you with home deliveries.