It’s natural to get lazy in the summer. To spend mornings with toys, afternoons in the sun, and evenings around the television. Take a step back…Mama, is that what you want your kids to live for: an isolated life doing whatever makes them happy? Sure, it’s okay to spend time alone or doing your own thing. But what a Mama wants is for her child to be a positive, contributing member of society!
And you can foster that attitude and lifestyle this summer. Take 1-3 hours per week to serve others. Teach your kids about the world we live in: that neighbors are lonely, that kids are homeless, that military members sacrifice for our freedom, that people at school are hungry, and that the world needs to be cared for.
Here are 5 ways that you can your children can serve others this summer. Some ideas will only take an hour, while others can take as long as you’d like. Modify these activities to an age level that your kids will understand, and use these experiences to facilitate deeper discussions. Be intentional to spend time with your kids, serve others, and improve your community this summer!
1 – Help your neighbors.
The people who live on your block have a story to tell. Maybe their grandparents are sick, or they recently lost a job, or wish they had more time to take their dog on a walk. Get to know your neighbors and encourage your children to serve them.
Don’t know where to start? Host a block party so you can meet your neighbors or become aware of their needs. Compile a list and have your kids each pick one way to serve a neighbor this summer.
Don’t know how to serve? If you don’t know your neighbors well, that’s okay. Have your charming child offer to walk a neighbor’s dog, weed their flowerbed, or wash their car for free. Kids break through awkward I-don’t-know-you barriers, and most neighbors would be glad to see your children volunteering to make the world a better place!
2 – Pick up trash
Go to your local park with a garbage bag and gloves. You and you children can pick up trash to keep the park beautiful for everyone. Talk about how we can respect the earth (by throwing trash in the garbage or recycling) and why you want a clean, safe community.
Bonus: Sometimes other families or children at the park are curious why you’re picking up the trash. Use this as an opportunity for your children to talk to strangers (with you by their side). Bring extra gloves and bags in case others want to participate.
Note: Warn your child to never pick up a sharp object or needle.
3 – Draw cards for the senior citizens, public servants, and members of the military
Art is appealing to most kids. Stock up on paper and craft supplies, and let your children draw cards for the elderly, policemen, firefighters, trash men, mail men, and members of the military. Teach your child about the sacrifices required by those positions, and model how to write an encouraging note. (The art of handwritten letters is a lost art, but you can revive it with your family!)
4 – Donate to or volunteer at a food bank
Canned goods are very inexpensive and are always needed at food banks. If you can’t afford to donate food, donate your time. Kids of most ages are able to help sort food. They can sort and match all of the green bean cans, or can distribute a bulk bin of dry rice into individual zip lock bags.
Don’t know about a food pantry in your area? Contact your local school board. Many school systems offer free lunch to school-aged children during the summer, which can be picked up their food at a local distribution site. It would be eye-opening for your kids to see other kids, just like them, who can’t afford three meals per day.
5 – Give toys and clothes to a children’s hospital or homeless shelter
Most America families have extra toys and clothes in their home, especially as children grow. As a family, sort through your closets and toy baskets. Divide things into age appropriate and gender specific bags.
Take those bags to a nearby homeless shelter or children’s hospital. Together, meet other children and families. Get to know what television show the little girls likes to watch, or which sport is the boy’s favorite. Then generously share your clothing and toys with them.
These experiences will broaden your kid’s perspective on the world. It should foster gratitude and a curiosity of the grander world.
It’s worth your time
It’s worth your time to model a servant’s heart for your children. It’s worth the sacrifice to serve other people in your community. It’s worth being intentional to show your kids the broader world and discuss the realities of life (before they observe it on their own). Serving others is always worth it. Take an hour or two each week to get out of the house and into your community.
How do you serve with your kids in the summer? Share your experiences in the comments below to encourage all of our readers! We can’t wait to see the creative avenues you use or hear about how your volunteer time changes lives.