This is a sponsored post.
I was excited to receive a notice home from Immy’s school recently asking for assistance preparing costumes for this year’s performing arts production. As a year one student Immy is too young to be involved with the production but it was nice that the invitation to volunteer time and skills was extended beyond the upper-primary classes producing the musical. Now truth be told, my machine sewing skills could only be described as intermediate at best but I LOVE a good musical and I am more than happy to help with sequinning and embellishments, as well as with any basic sewing required.
More than anything, I find this sort of opportunity to volunteer and help others provides me with a greater sense of community. And as a work-from-home Mum who spends most of her day conversing in one or two word sentences in the company of a just-turned-2 year old this is important to me. Without making purposeful connections with others (and a little adult conversation) it can be easy to feel isolated.
However, as rewarding as I find volunteering, I personally find it difficult to commit to many ongoing volunteering or service options as I juggle family life with two small children and work. Which got me thinking about the fact that volunteering doesn’t always have to be about going to an external agency or undertaking big, ongoing commitments. In fact, when you look around you, there are many simple but meaningful ways to help others within your own, local community.
5 Ways to Volunteer (and Make a Difference) With Kids in Tow
1. Ask about opportunities at your children’s school, kindergarten, preschool or playgroup.
Schools, preschools and playgroups are generally more geared to working with parents with young children in tow. As you read your school’s newsletter or visit your child’s school, look at upcoming projects or events with mindfulness towards how you might be able to help – look for opportunities that are a good fit for your interests and skills, and even if there is not a specific mention of needing assistance, don’t be afraid to ask if they are in need of some extra help.
For those with prior-to-school aged children, ask at playgroup if there is something you can help with – for example, offer to take home the painting aprons for laundering or to stay back to wash a tub of toys once a month.
2. Help another family
Do you know of a family with a new baby, or one struggling with illness, family loss, or just generally having a hard time? If so, consider ways that you might be able to provide support or offer assistance. This could include;
- Making contact: The first step is to simply make contact, and sometimes just taking this step and being a friend with a listening ear is enough.
- Making meals: Even simple functions such as thinking about what to cook and preparing meals can be difficult when you are in the midst of significant stress (or ongoing sleep deprivation!) This post, Bringing Food to Friends in Need, has lots of meal ideas for what to prepare, as well as suggestions for organising a group of friends to help, and even how to prepare food that is easy to transport and to freeze.
- Picking up groceries: Most of us head to the grocery store regularly anyway, so picking up an extra litre of milk, loaf of bread and carton of eggs isn’t too difficult.
- Helping to care for children: Offering to be an extra pair of hands around the house, to watch children while parents rest, or even to babysit while they attend appointments can be a big help.
3. Offer to help a neighbor
Sometimes opportunities to help are literally right outside your front door and don’t need to be difficult. Elderly neighbours, new parents, neighbours planning to travel – all present opportunities to offer assistance.
4. Look for everyday opportunities whilst out and about in your local community
I might not be free to help with a community event on Clean Up Australia Day but I can encourage my children to help me pick up rubbish I see at the local playground or beach. Small actions, like offering to take another person’s trolley back to the trolley bay as you do your own, don’t take a lot of extra effort but can make all the difference to someone else’s day. Holding a door for someone, helping to direct someone who is lost, giving up your seat on crowded public transport, mowing a neighbour’s lawn as you have the mower out to do your own – all are acts of service that create a positive sense of community.
5. Donate pre-loved belongings in good condition
As you sort through your family’s pre-loved clothes, toys and household items consider donating those in good condition to a local shelter, children’s hospital, op shop or other local community organisation. It doesn’t take a lot of extra time to donate and it also helps to reduce landfill.
Did you know this week is National Volunteer Week (May 12-16) in Australia? For those looking for volunteer opportunities outside of their immediate community, the SEEK Volunteer website makes finding volunteer positions related to your talents, passions and existing commitments simple. Opportunities can be searched by location, type of cause, personal interests, personal circumstances (there is a great family friendly search option), length of commitment and your availability.
Whatever form it takes, as you volunteer and reach out to help others you are likely to find that you are the one feeling the biggest sense of reward. At the same time you are acting as a model of kindness, compassion and caring for your own children, whilst also teaching them important practical life skills – and as the future leaders in our society, these are important qualities to nurture. Sounds like a win for everyone to me 🙂
Do you volunteer at your child’s school or within your local community? How do you juggle family and personal commitments with making time available to volunteer?