By: Sarah Aadland of Big Hearted Families
What does your family calendar look like? I’m guessing it’s pretty full. I know mine fills up quickly. With three kids and two adults, finding time for gymnastics or piano lessons or even homework can be tricky.
Then there is that whole list of activities and projects we’d like to get to someday. After the next big family gathering. After the next winter ailment runs its course. After the basketball season winds down.
Too often volunteering, especially volunteering with your family, falls into this someday category.
Today I urge you to take a moment, today, and add a volunteer project to your family’s schedule. Visit our new Big-Hearted Families resources, where you’ll find 42 volunteer project “recipes” suitable for kids of all ages. We strive to make it easy to find a service opportunity that fits your family’s interests and your schedule.
The research is clear, doing good deeds as a family has many benefits beyond the immediate service you provide. Volunteering with children
- empowers them to be change makers,
- strengthens relationships within your family, and
- may even improves test scores.
Check out our 10 Reasons to Do Good with Your Family if you’d like more motivation to add family volunteering to your calendar.
My guess is, as a fan of Volunteer Spot, you already value family volunteering.
I do too, but I’m just as guilty of saving big-hearted projects for someday.
My family has been talking about making contributions through Kiva since last January! Since last winter we've talked about making care kits for the homeless, so we always have something useful to give someone in need. I have an e-mail hiding somewhere in my inbox, waiting for a scanned signature to begin our participation in the Family-to-Family One Book at a Time Club.
All of these someday ideas clatter around in my head, jostling for attention between various activities and obligations and the next camping trip.
I found that these three simple strategies help me to turn my someday volunteer ideas into accomplished tasks, even on the busy weeks.
- Pick one thing & add it to the calendar: Too obvious? Maybe, but it worked. One sticky-note reminder transformed a random Wednesday night into a family volunteer night. Our whole family enjoyed making the care kits, and we’ve only got two left to hand out!
- Add ingredients to the grocery list: No need to make a special trip to the store for granola bars, lip balm, cozy socks and water bottles. We rounded it all up during the last routine errand.
- Leave enough time to reflect! Discuss the good you're doing. Discuss how good that feels. And use this conversation to motivate one another to pick the next project.
- Pick the next project... and add it to your calendar. Whether you pick a day next week, next month, or after hockey season, knowing you have set time aside time for the next event will calm that irritating feeling of being hung up by too many good ideas and not enough time.
How does your family make time to volunteer?
Inertia is a powerful thing, how do you avoid it?
Sarah Aadland is the voice of the Big-Hearted Families blog, Twitter and Facebook feeds, and the Pinterest boards. Her own family of five provides ample inspiration and field-testing for the ideas, stories, and links she shares. While they may be covered in glue, glitter, and grass clippings most of the time, she keeps her grade-schooler, preschooler, and toddler steeped in lessons of kindness and empathy amid the dizzying pace of family life.