We are now in the second week of all the unknowns and changes to our daily lives, the famous quote by Mr. Rogers comes to mind:
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
This reminder from Mr. Rogers is wonderful for kids and parents alike because it gives us HOPE when we see scary things through the lens of those who are the helpers. I am thinking especially of the healthcare workers on the front lines, grocery store workers stocking shelves and essential government workers making plans. The quote also reminds us that we can join in and HELP!
I need this reminder as I struggle with anxiety during “normal” times. Thankfully, with therapy and prayer, I am in a much better place than earlier in my motherhood journey. One of the main takeaways I’ve learned is to focus my energy outward instead of spinning out in my mind. So, in addition to some homeschooling and LOTS of outdoor time, I am incorporating some service opportunities into our daily schedule with my 7- and 4-year-olds.
Here are 6 ways kids can serve their community from home:
1. Chalk Your Walk
This is an easy and fun way to brighten your neighbor’s day! Simply write encouraging messages and cheerful drawings on your sidewalks or driveways (or garbage cans?!) to raise the spirits of those in your neighborhood on their social distancing walks.
2. Send Cards to a Nursing Home
Many nursing homes are closed to outside visitors right now. This is a wonderful time to have your kids draw or write an encouraging card to the residents. Here are links and addresses of low-income affordable senior living facilities in Washington, D.C., Arlington, Virginia and Silver Spring, Maryland. (I recommend taping the envelope shut rather than licking the envelope, just to be on the safe side! The CDC and WHO have “indicated that there is currently no evidence that COVID-19 is being spread through the mail.”)
3. Create an Activity Pack
If you know of a single parent in your neighborhood or maybe someone who is juggling a new baby and older kids, ask them if they would like an activity pack delivered to their door. Ideas to include in the pack: paper, markers, crayons, stickers, extra craft supplies like pom-poms, popsicle sticks, etc. You could also include supplies needed for a few of these indoor and outdoor activity ideas. (To be extra safe, I recommend wiping down with a Lysol wipe and leaving on their porch. Tell your friend that you have already wiped down all the supplies for their peace of mind!)
4. Record a Video
Everyone loves cute kid videos! Record your kids singing a song, reading a book, telling a joke or playing an instrument and send it an elderly neighbor, family member or healthcare worker to encourage them during this uncertain time. Sharing personal moments is one of the many great ways kids can serve their community from home.
5. Call Your Grandparents!
I’m sure most of us have elderly relatives on our mind and we don’t need a reminder to keep in touch. So, this is more of “kids tip” for shy kids. Consider preparing your child beforehand and asking them to share 1 fun thing they did today or 1 question for their grandparent. If they have video chatting, consider going outside and having your kids do a mini-show and tell! These are ways for your kids to feel prepared and empowered for the conversation!
6. Text a Healthcare or Essential Worker:
If you know of a family who has one or both of their adults who are on the front lines of this pandemic, a friendly check-in text can be such an encouragement. Ask your kids to help with the text (complete with emojis!) and if you are able, perhaps offer to pick up groceries for them as they must be exhausted working outside the home keeping us all safe.
I would love to add to our list and hear your ideas on ways kids can serve their community during COVID-19 in the comments below!