I honestly feel like volunteering is one of the most important lessons I can give my kids. I want them to grow up to be kind, generous, and loving individuals, and the best way to promote that is to lead by example.
Back-to-school is a busy time of year, but it’s also a great chance to find a way to fit some giving-back into our new routines. Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom, a working mom, or a work-at-home mom (like me), volunteering will make you feel like you’re setting a good example & nothing feels as good as giving does.
Here are a just few ways that you can volunteer:
Join the Parent Advisory Committee or Parent Teacher Association (PAC or PTA)
Ok. We don’t want to be one of those annoying, overbearing, crunchy PTA presidents we all saw in Bad Moms, but joining the PAC is honestly one of the best ways to give back to your child’s school & community. They don’t just plan bake sales, they do a lot of good for your children, and it’s great way to get some face-time with your principal and other involved moms. Even if you can’t be at every meeting or commit to being on the executive, try to attend a meeting once in a while and find out what the needs are in your school.
As an example, last year during a PAC meeting, we were given some shocking statistics from our principal. One of her main concerns was that a number of kids in the school were identified as being at-risk and were coming to school hungry almost every day – a large portion of them utilized the free soup program which delivers soup to a number of schools in our community on a daily basis.
We immediately formed a sub-committee, started fundraising, set up a volunteer schedule, and established a free breakfast program within months. We don’t turn anyone away, and easily feed 50-80 kids daily, kids that otherwise wouldn’t have anything in their belly until they got their free soup at lunchtime. We now have plans to build on this program & partner with businesses in our community to create a backpack program to send some of these same kids home with food to get them through weekends & holidays.
The best part about the breakfast program is that when it’s my day to volunteer and I show up at the school at 7am to prep breakfast, my kids are with me (we can get out the door in 15 minutes in the morning when we don’t have to have breakfast). The help me get everything ready, they set out the chairs and empty the dishwasher while I cut up fruit or mix pancake batter. Then they sit and eat with all the kids that come in, establishing friendships with some kids they would have otherwise never have even had the chance to talk to. I’ve explained to them why we started doing this, and they think it’s wonderful – and I think they are becoming better humans for it.
Be a Coach
If you have time to take your kids to any number of after-school activities and sit on the sidelines surfing on your phone while junior is out on the field or rink, you probably have time to volunteer.
If you don’t know the sport very well, volunteer to be a assistant coach and learn as you go, or drive kids to & from practice or games. Or, if you are a sports pro, why not volunteer as a head coach or train to be a referee? Spending time with your kids while they are doing something they love and sharing your child’s passion for sports will make it a positive experience for everyone.
As a mom that needed blood transfusions after a really bad birth experience with my son, this couldn’t be more important to me. I have donated in the past whenever my anemia is under control, and encourage anyone, especially those universal donors with O- blood types like me, to donate as often as you can.
Give your Passion
Are you great with computers? Volunteer with your teens to teach seniors how to use the internet
Do you love theater or painting? Sign-up with the local arts club to teach a class or help organize events
Are you concerned about pollution? Adopt a road or attend local beach clean-ups in your area as a family
Is sports your thing? Volunteer at any number of sporting events being held in your area (I volunteered at the 2010 Olympics, and it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life)
Have a love of hiking, boating or the outdoors? Consider joining your local Search and Rescue
Do disasters make you feel useless? Sign up to work with the Red Cross, local emergency services, or volunteer fire department
Have you been a victim of crime? Drop by your local police station and see if they have any community watch programs you can sign up for
Do those SPCA commercials make you cry? Volunteer to foster animals or walk dogs and cuddle cats at your local shelter – your kids will love to help out too!
Those are just a few examples. There are seriously an endless amount of opportunities to volunteer out there, you just have to look.
Added Bonuses of Volunteering
Whether you’ve taken a year or ten off to be at home with your kids, it can be a bit overwhelming to get back into the workforce. Volunteering helps three-fold, it looks great to fill in some of the perceived gaps on your resume (us moms know you were busy and working your ass off, but a CEO might not), it helps you build & display your skill set, and it’s a wonderful way to establish some great connections with folks working in fields that you feel passionate about. Those contacts can open many doors for you since networking is now one of the best ways to find employment.
Happiness & Self-Confidence
Again, nothing feels as good as giving does. Volunteering is great for moms who might feel unappreciated or stuck in a bit of a rut. When you are doing good for others and your community, it can provide you with a natural sense of accomplishment and will boost your self-confidence. There is nothing like the positive energy you get from giving back, something as simple as a ‘thank you’ can make your day seem brighter.
Friendships & Adult Conversation
Volunteering is a great way to strengthen your interpersonal skills. The connections you make while volunteering can turn into life-long friendships with like-minded people who share your passions. And honestly, it’s great to have something to talk about with your friends or your partner that doesn’t revolve around the kids.