No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. – Aesop
Protect. Survive. Teach. This list sums up my parenting goals in their simplest form. I focused more on the first two goals (i.e. protect and survive) when my boys were younger. Let’s call that phase of life “provival”. When parenting in provival mode most of the life lessons you teach are meant to stop your kids from hurting themselves. Other lessons teach them key life skills (like not going to the bathroom in their pants) that help you all stay sane. I remember that phase well and have great sensitivity to those with young children currently parenting in provival mode. Protecting and surviving is probably all you have the mental, physical or emotional capacity for so I will tread lightly with offering tips for kid friendly service projects. These projects are meant to be quick and easy and to plant the basic principles of service in your child’s heart. Do them if and when you have the energy for them. Don’t feel bad for a second if that time doesn’t come until your child is much older. Practicing service can never come too early, but it can also never come too late. Serve on!
- Handing out happy: Join in with your child to make “Happy Awards” out of paper and any other art supplies you have around. This can be a very quick project or more elaborate based on your time, supplies and energy constraints. Once done, take the awards along on your next errand run. Allow your child to nominate people displaying happiness and give out their awards. This act of service is sure to brighten up everyone’s day and make grocery shopping a little more fun!
- Walking and serving: Help keep your community clean and beautiful. Take a 15 minute walk with your child around your neighborhood looking for litter to collect. Make sure to bring a plastic bag and plastic gloves for collecting trash. Depending on the age of your child they can be in charge of identifying trash only or actually be a part of the collection/disposal of the trash.
- Drawing with a purpose: Turn coloring time into a service project by dropping your child’s finished masterpieces off at a local hospital or nursing home. There is nothing like the beauty of a child’s creative mind to add a little joy to someone’s day.
- Running a mini-food drive: Have your child ask family, friends and neighbors for non-perishable food donations. They can even make an advertising sign to help promote their cause. Be sure to take them along when you drop off donations to your local food bank.