Gifts, meal planning, and endless family gatherings can leave you feeling wrung out this holiday season. Ramp up your merry feelings by volunteering with your kids. By utilizing their talents to help others, they can learn valuable lessons. Try some of these simple activities and watch your kiddos transform into lean, mean, volunteering machines.
TURN VOLUNTEERING INTO A GAME
There are a couple ways to change your children’s outlook on volunteering from an obligation to a real desire. Start with getting your kids to clean their bedrooms. Set a goal for each child to find a certain number of items they’re willing to donate — say, 10 items per kid — and reward them when they meet that goal with a fun family activity, like going bowling or getting ice cream.
You and your family could also help a neighbor clean out their garage in a contest to see who can find the oldest or most unique item. Or you could split off into teams and volunteer to clean up elderly neighbors’ yards or shovel their driveways.
Whoever cleans the most yards in the shortest amount of time gets to pick dinner that night. Cleaning and organizing might not be among your children’s favorite things to do, but if you make it a fun activity with a goal and a prize, they may forget it was ever a chore. Your child will learn the value of helping others, and they’ll tidy their room while they’re at it.
TURN PASSION INTO GOODWILL
Is there a budding artist in your family? What about a kid who loves the dirt? Take an activity your child loves, and turn it into an action for good in your community to get them excited about helping others.
Start a community garden and donate the goods to food shelves or local churches. Or have your crafty kid draw, paint, or make artwork to send to residents in local nursing homes. Your child can be creative while also making others happier; it’s a win-win.
Children of any age, from toddlers to teenagers, can apply their skills and interests for the good of their community — and if they make it a habit now, it will follow them into the future.
TURN APATHY INTO CARING
The most effective way to teach your kids about compassion and volunteering is to show them — not tell them — about the struggles others face. If you’re worried that your kid does not have enough care for others, give them an opportunity to work directly with people in less fortunate circumstances.
Get the whole family to help at a humane society by playing with the animals, taking the dogs on walks, or cleaning out cages. This service can teach your kids about being responsible pet owners. To foster generational connections, set up play dates with your children and older adults in nursing homes. In that same vein, your musically gifted teen or the family band can play their favorite tunes for kids stuck in the hospital or for older adults in care facilities.
Your kiddos may dread volunteer service initially, but volunteering can become an outlet for new opportunities, and your kids might become more compassionate, too!