How do you stay productive, especially when it feels like the world is crumbling around you and your life is falling apart? By meeting the urgent needs of others! How do you keep your kids productive? By meeting the needs of others as well.
It’s amazing what happens to our out-of-control life when we focus on someone else. Usually when someone else has urgent needs, something serious is going on in their lives. That something can be more serious, traumatic or crazy than what’s going on in our own lives. Their needs may seem less urgent than our needs, but too them, it could feel like the end of the world.
There are so many hurting people out in the world that have no one to turn to. They may have family, but that family isn’t able to or willing to help. They need someone. Anyone. And one that doesn’t expect anything in return, because they may have nothing to give.
Your life might just look a little easier after helping another. You may find the solution to your own challenges by helping others. So many times we need to take our eyes off of a situation for a little while to get a clear understanding of it and to find a way through it. When we dwell on a problem too long, all we can think about is that problem. Just like in my post about looking for good in our husbands. If we dwell on all the stuff that we think he is doing wrong or “bad”, then we’ll never see the good. We need to take our eyes off of the bad for a little while, focus on something different, something good, someone else, and then we will see a glimmer of hope. A new outlook on the problem. A possible solution.
Over the years, I have also found that there are times we need to focus on other things that we know we won’t get paid or rewarded for. You know, like volunteering! This is great for children. It teaches them to give without receiving. It shows them that sometimes others rely on help from people that are willing to help for nothing in return.
When my children were young, we found a local farm in a town close to our home where we were able to volunteer at. We helped out once a week doing any farm chores that were needed. At this particular farm they had gardens, fields and farm animals. We started off in the garden area, not what we were hoping to do. But, that wasn’t the point. We were there to help where we were needed. Soon, they switched us to the working with the farm animals, that’s what we really wanted to help! However, it was cleanup duty or should I say doodie!! We cleaned all the stalls for the chickens, turkeys, goats, cows, horses, pigs, donkey, rabbits and sheep. We did this in the hot summer and freezing cold northern winters. Somedays were so cold the doodie was frozen to the ground. In the hot summer months, the gag-factor was in effect! S-t-i-n-k-y!!
Those were the mornings the kids were NOT excited to help the animals. They were not excited to clean poop! They were not excited about physically working hard with frozen fingers and cold ears.
What did we learn? That it takes a lot of work and help to run a farm that benefits so many. There was no reward, except knowing that we made a difference that day to the animals. When our areas were clean we were proud of the hard work we did. The kids were especially pleased with the work they did and how hard they worked to accomplish it. However, they asked the animals not to “go” so much, so that the next week wouldn’t be as hard!
After one year of clean-up duty, we were moved to feeding and caring for the animals. No more doodie! We were very excited. This was a lot of work too, but fun work. The kids still griped a bit getting up early in the mornings on farm day. And we sure did stink when we came home, in the hot steamy summers! The stinky farm smell stuck in our noses all day long!
The kids (and I) learned so much during those 2 years. We received nothing but just knowing we made a difference. And that was good enough. The kids learned that you don’t always get paid or recognized for hard work by people. They were rewarded in others ways they never expected from time to time.
During that time our focus was on the farm, even if it was only once a week. Money was tight then, but it didn’t matter because our attention and time was spent on helping others, even if only animals. It was something to do that was free. It was something that didn’t involve video games or watching cartoons.
Taking our eyes off of ourselves and helping others will reap us rewards that we would never expect. Teaching our children to sacrifice their time and a little hard work without getting paid will instill a work ethic that they can’t get anywhere else.
We live 1,000 miles away from that farm now and miss it so much. The kids are teenagers and would go back in a moment’s notice doing any work the farm needs. We built so many memories there.
Helping others, brings us closer to those we love, builds a stronger work ethic, and gives us a glimmer of hope of finding a solution that will help life get better.
Ideas for kids to help others without getting paid:
- Volunteer at a local farm.
- Help at a nursing home in the activities area or reading to the residents.
- Shovel snow for the neighbors (without them knowing who did it).
- Walking pets for others.
- Helping an elderly neighbor with housework or other chores.
- Volunteer at the zoo.
- For older children, help at food shelter.
- Clean up your neighborhood, including parks and paths.
- Local library.
What you can do for those in need (don’t wait for them to ask, offer as soon as you can):
- Cook meals.
- Help with housework or yard work.
- Offer car rides.
- Babysit the children.
- Watch the pets.
- Sit and listen and listen and listen.
- Go with them to dr’s visits if they have no one else.
Question: What volunteer opportunities have you or your children done?
Photo Credit: (c) Can Stock Photo
Get Your Free Manners Printable
Subscribe to get our latest content by email and receive your FREE printable manner checklist for your son or daughter!