When my daughter was nine years old, we participated in a family-friendly fundraiser for a local organization. During the typical rush of getting three young kids out the door, dressed and each with enough snacks to get them 20 minutes across town, my nine year old had a mild meltdown.
What I've now come to realize is standard fare in the preteen-tween world, my nine year old was suddenly hyper-focused on her outfit, which other kids would be in attendance and if her school/social world would overlap at this mandated family outing to do good.
After much compromise and some high stakes negotiation, the right t-shirt was chosen and she bounced back to her lowkey self. However, mom took a little longer to recover. Here we were going out to do something positive for struggling children and my daughter cared more about what she was wearing?! Something was amiss; she just wasn't making the connection.
How Regular Volunteering Has Changed Our Kids
So I set out on a journey of finding opportunities to take my daughter out of her small world and into the community to see what needs exist beyond her cushy existence. And now three years later, she and I have done all sorts of interesting, perspective-building volunteering. From bagging peppers at a food bank to sorting through old hotel bottles of shampoo to make hygiene kits to planting garlic and potatoes for residents at an affordable housing apartment. We've done a lot and her worldview has greatly expanded.
Now with her two younger brothers in tow, rushing out of the house for a mandated family outing to do good sees much less eye-rolling and is definitely free of meltdowns and fashion dramas! But, it took a couple years of ongoing dedication by this busy mom of three, to have the trio understand the blessings in their lives and the needs in someone else's life. To have them develop the perspective that there is so much more beyond the every day world they know. And now it's time for me to share these experiences and pay it forward to other families.
"It's not uncommon for volunteers to see their own lives in a different light..." ~ Good Deeds Day
These days we seem to have discussions about causes and community needs with regularity. And my son will often regale us with school cafeteria conversations he has with his classmates who toss away lightly eaten lunches and the hungry kids across town who'd love to have that lunch.
The truth is that getting out and giving back takes time. It requires mom or dad finding the energy in an already busy life to schedule in volunteering. It takes lots of ongoing convos with the kids to help them make the connection between their "good deed" and the people who will benefit as a result. But, good things take time. So while you're waiting for that day, we hope to see you out there on your own mandated family outing to do good.