Most people that I talk to about serving with their children say,”I just don’t know how to start it. I feel overwhelmed with what I have to do already.”
I. get. that!
If you think that (I did, too), then here are three resources for easy ideas:
Last year, I issued a challenge for families to start serving more with their children. Many people took up that challenge with me, completed it, and the most awesome part: no one did it the same exact way.
Some parents completed daily acts with their children to serve another. Others deliberately found ways to serve with their kids on a weekly basis, some on a monthly basis, and others didn’t have a schedule but have reported that they did serve more.
In fact, when I was listening to one father talk about what he did to meet the challenge, in the course of telling me about their “monthly” service act, he actually talked about 8 other things that they did to help another in that same month. He didn’t realize just how much his family had been serving once they started a monthly focus on it.
Serve With Your Children
Think about what works with your family:
- Maybe your family would like having an ongoing service project?
- Or maybe serving once a week works with every one’s schedules?
- Just starting out? Not sure you can do it? I would suggest: Serve once a month.
Set up a family goal for serving and go for it! Make sure you take time to reflect at the end of the service on what happened, who did you help, would you do it again, and what did you gain from the service.
Still not sure if you can or how to do it? I asked several parents to share with us what they do to be more deliberate in serving with their children. You’ll notice that each family has a different number of kids with different ages. No two families, here, do it the same . . . BUT they are *all* teaching their children to love, to care for others, and the great work ethic that comes when you know how to serve others.
My husband and I have two kids, currently ages 5 and 2, both boys.
We serve because we want to make a positive difference in the world while becoming the best versions of ourselves. I think personal growth is done in two parts, inward development of virtues and outward manifestations of those same character traits. Service is the perfect way to challenge yourself to show qualities such as friendliness, patience, responsibility, and more!
We try to serve together once a week at the very least. This can be very simple such as drawing a picture for a friend, or bringing a meal to a family in need.
Advice from Chelsea on How to Get Started
I created a list of 52 service ideas and an accompanying scrapbook to record our ideas (you can see it here – http://www.momentsaday.com/52-acts-kindness) that I’m drawing from currently, but we have been inspired by many other resources as well – one of my favorites being Pennies of Time!
Making it part of our weekend “ritual” has helped us get service into our family’s routine. When it gets towards the end of the week I can look at our list and plan for one of the service acts.
A site to follow: http://www.momentsaday.com/
My husband and I have four children, ages 11, 6, 5, and 5.
We try and plan time one Saturday a month to make a “service Saturday.” We let the kids have some input into it so they have more ownership . . . as much as is possible! We have purposefully reached out to a widow that lives next door to provide food and gifts, take care of her yard, and visit with her to make sure her needs are met.
We are also active in an organization that reaches out to the local community with a variety of projects from sponsoring children at Christmas, contributing to coat drives, and taking kids to sporting events. At Thanksgiving, we cook and serve meals with the local shelter, and, a few times a year, we bag up care packages and deliver them to the homeless.
One of the special projects we are committed to is international relief work, focusing on needs in Haiti. We work with schools in Haiti and will be taking a trip to train teachers there since most of the teachers have not had the advantage of formal training. Every year, our family saves money to fully fund 4 schools for one month and to pay tuition for several of the orphans.
Advice from Stephanie on How to Get Started
I think with “big” families or “young” families, the key is to look close beside you. There are widows, orphans, hospitals, and needs all around us that we miss or think we just “can’t” because the problem is too big or too complicated. We also encourage our kids to think big. Maps and gloves fill our house so our kids think beyond what they see every day!
A site to follow: http://www.hopeforthehungry.org/
My wife and I have four kids, ages 12, 10, 8, and 2.
We have a family activity once a week and plan for one of those activities, each month, to have a service focus. I know it can seem a challenge to come up with something that a 12 year old and a 2 year old are interested in doing, but we have found that as we do this as a family, everyone chips in and the differences in what my kids can do because of their age, frankly, disappear. It has really helped us to better work as a family team.
Some of our best projects have been when we reached out to our community to help. We raised money through a garage sale to help the survivors in Haiti and one recently for survivors in the Philippines. I take my boys with me and mow a neighbor or a friend’s lawn. My wife is always ready to help at the last minute with things that others need, and she involves the children in doing them, not just going along for the ride.
We serve because we believe in caring for others and that our lives’ problems are better put in check when helping another. We aren’t rich; we aren’t fancy; we are a pretty average. But, we do what we can.
Advice from Roger on How to Get Started
Just jump right in and do something small, even something as simple as taking someone cookies can help build momentum in your family to serve others. Look for the needs around you and try to meet them in simple ways. Don’t overthink it because then you will start doubting yourself.
Decide what would work best for your family and be deliberate in serving with your children. Need ideas? Here are some resources (as well as the ones I mentioned above) that are for you to use.