One of the most meaningful parts of parenting is the opportunity to instill important values in your children. The holiday season is full of traditions new and old that have significance for your family. Even with a new baby on board, giving back is a tradition that will help mold your children into productive, compassionate, generous and grateful citizens of the world.
Families of all make-ups, socio-economic backgrounds and religions can participate in giving back this time of year. There are many ways you can begin your charitable tradition to incorporate every member of your family. Yes, even babies can give back. We’ve compiled a few ideas that can joyfully be accomplished with your baby.
Donate Toys to Children’s Charities: If there is one thing that children understand during the holiday season, it’s toys! Whether you have gently used toys to donate or you collect brand new toys, your children can bring lots of joy to less fortunate boys and girls in a language they will all understand – the language of toys. Many organizations will come to your house to pick up toys at your convenience. Or you can make a fun excursion to a donate spot to drop off toys. Toy donation during the holiday season can be a year-long project by having your kids set aside new or used toys at various times of year, such as birthdays and other holidays. Alternatively, you can ask friends and family to donate toys in honor of a special event in your child’s life.
Serve Food at a Homeless Shelter: With your baby in tow, you can lend a helping hand at a homeless shelter by serving meals over the holiday season. If your family doesn’t celebrate Christmas, taking the time to make Christmas day special for those in need goes a long way. Or maybe your family does a Christmas dinner, freeing up some volunteer time on Christmas morning. With baby in a sling or carrier you can do many jobs at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. Just leave serving hot foods to someone else. If you’re worried about germs, ask that people not touch your baby.
Send a Care Package to Troops: For those fighting for our freedom who cannot be around their own families during the holidays, care packages are a welcome surprise. You may have already noticed that your baby loves to sort or pick up objects and drop them into containers. Use this skill to allow your baby to help you prepare small boxes or bags of goodies for the troops. If you have older children, they can make home-made cards to include as well.
Spread Joy to Local Heroes: You can also bring care packages of baked goods to heroes in your own community. Emergency workers like police officers, firefighters or EMTs who work on Christmas would be especially grateful for a visit from your family. Plus, baking is another great family-friendly activity. You can let your baby pour and stir batter and then watch muffins, cookies and cakes rise in the oven.
Adopt a Family: Children may connect best to the holiday spirit of giving by giving to a family similar to your own. Adopting a family with children of similar ages to your own will help your children understand that the importance of paying it forward to kids just like themselves. Without your family’s generosity, some boys and girls would not have any toys during their holiday, a sad prospect when you lay it out in these terms. As you collect items for your adopted family and even after you’ve dropped them off, discuss the happiness you have shared to remind your child of the good deed you’ve done by giving back to others.
Visit a Nursing Home: Bringing the gift of youth to elderly people in nursing homes is likely better than anything else you could offer. Even if you don’t feel comfortable with residents holding your tot, bring your baby into the lobby and let her crawl and bounce around. You’ll probably notice a crowd gathering around her in no time. Babies are better than any physical gift you could offer elderly people in nursing homes. If you have older children, let them sing or hand out a small treat as well. You will warm hearts almost instantly, but beware, they may also melt!
Read Books About Giving Back: Help your children understand the true meaning of the holidays and giving back by reading lots of books on the topic. Talk about some of the charitable ways you’ve given back this season to bring the concept full circle for your little ones. You can also visit a family shelter or a low-income aftercare program to read your favorite holiday stories to children. Without spending a dime, you can bring a world of joy to children in your community.
Perhaps the best part will be the joy your family gets from giving back, a gift in-and-of itself.
Wishing you a warm season of giving and very happy New Year!