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Teach Your Kids The Joy Of Giving Back

It’s really easy for all of us to get so caught up in both the joys and the obligations of the holidays isn’t it?! I talked about this in my last blog post, about how easy it is to feel overwhelmed with the sheer amount of extra work this time of year includes. And so much of it naturally falls to the mums (hello invisible load..!).

Now this blog post might seem like I am totally contradicting what I said in that post, encouraging you to take on even moreeee work, but I assure you I am not! The fact is that research shows that helping others and volunteering our time, makes us happier people. So in fact, this is a form of self-care. Plus, this time of year tends to be so much about the receiving for our kids, whether we like it or not. It’s really easy for them (and us) to just focus on the presents, rather than the bigger ideas of community, love and family.

Here are a few ideas that you can do with your kids this holiday season, to focus on giving back to the community.

And PS - if you simply do not have the bandwidth right now to take on anything else, either ignore this post, file it away for a time when you have more emotional energy, delegate it to someone else like a grandparent, partner, or babysitter, or if your kids are old enough - encourage them to do some of these on their own. DO NOT FEEL GUILTY if you cannot take on anything else, and do not feel like you have to do this all yourself!

If you have 20 minutes or less

  1. Love for Our Elders Letters. Every month we write letters to lonely elders through this wonderful organization. I have been doing this project for about two years now with my Tween Yoga classes, and it has become such a worthwhile project to help grow their empathy, awareness & creativity. It really only takes a few minutes to draw someone a picture and send it to them, but it can make all the difference in someone’s life.

  2. Trash pick-up. As you are walking around the neighborhood with your kids, get into the habit of looking out for trash together and picking it up. It is such a simple task, but one that can make such a difference to your community and the wildlife in it. Always be safe, and never pick up sharps, but other than that - just a plastic bag and some gloves and use it as a fun game.

  3. Donate delicious food to your local food bank. It’s really easy to just donate the same old things to your food bank, but at this time of year why not donate some delicious chocolate, some good quality coffee, some healthy, but tasty snacks. Think about what puts a smile on your face when you eat it, and donate that! Find your local food bank here.

  4. Donate unopened toiletries. Go through your bathroom cabinets and find the toiletries that have never been opened and donate them to a homeless shelter. We all have those things that have been given to us that we’re just never going to use, so put them to good use!

  5. Donate Outgrown Coats. Gather up all those coats that your kids have outgrown, and donate them to a local coat drive with your kids. Again, this provides the perfect opportunity to have a conversation about the person that this might be helping.

  6. Donate to an animal shelter. Let’s not forget our animals in need this holiday season. Gather up any old towels and blankets you have around the house, and donate them to your local animal shelter. There has been a huge increase in animals at shelters over the past year, and they are always in need of supplies. Plus, if you have the extra funds, think about donating some dog or cat food to these shelters as well.

If you have 1 hour or less

7. Make gift bags for unhoused folks. Grab some leftover holiday gift bags, and fill them with goodies for your local unhoused folks. My kids love making & distributing these, and it makes for some really wonderful conversations too, and it really improves their empathy. Some of our favorite things to include are coffee shop gift cards like Dunkin’ Donuts, a pack of baby wipes, really nice new socks, some snacks, a juice box (sounds like an odd choice, but this is one thing that our local homeless shelter said they need the most), and some delicious candy.

8. Make a home cooked meal for a homeless shelter. Coordinate with your local homeless shelter to ensure that this is something that they can accept (every shelter has different policies), and figure out what is the most need. It is a lovely project to do with kids of any age, it provides the opportunity to chat about healthy eating, what people who have less than them might need and like and thinking about others who may not have family to spend time with this holidays.

If you can give 2 hours or more

9. Give the gift of YOU. AKA your blood, plasma or platelets. If you are able to, please consider giving blood around the holiday season - the American Red Cross has an urgent need for blood. This is not something that your children can do themselves, but it is definitely a conversation that they can be a part of, so that when they are old enough, it is something that happens naturally. This is a lifesaving gift that could have a very big impact!

10. Operation Christmas Child. You could set aside one evening during the holiday season to fill shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, which collects donation boxes for children in need (often in orphanages) in more than 100 countries. It is a really nice opportunity for kids to be able to choose toys and clothes for a child in a certain age group and spend time thinking about what they might like to receive.

I would love to hear from you if your family has any traditions that you do every year to give back to your community. And please let me know if you incorporate any of these community projects into your holiday season this year.

With peace & love, Louise

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