My life is incredibly full - not just a full schedule and busy, but rich with wonderful people and fulfilling activities. Luckily, some of that richness has just happened in happenstance. I've been connected to others that have taught me so much about life, myself, and loving others. In some circumstances, those who already know me networked me with people that they sense I would "click" with. Not all of these relationships are "just" friendships - many of them go beyond that. I've grown close to people through mom groups, my education and extra-curriculars, and a few volunteer activities.
Volunteering has created some of the most enriching and rewarding moments of my life. The friendships I've formed through volunteering have been such a comfort and a joy to me in some of the roughest times. Charitable work speaks to my core - it tugs at my heartstrings. In fact, I've found myself over-committed to volunteer opportunities more often than I've been strictly socially over-committed. And that's kind of bonkers! But since becoming a mom, I find less and less free time to give back to others. That doesn't mean I'm going to give up on good works. It just means I have to be choosier, and I have to find ways that I can volunteer while parenting.
Many of the people I've met through the volunteer organizations I've been involved in have taught me that it's totally possible to volunteer with toddlers in tow. Nurslings are even easier, because they will generally sleep and aren't too disruptive. But even toddlers can be a part of your charitable activities - some they can be involved in, and some they can be present but preoccupied with their own interests.
Not just board meetings, but really any group meeting. This is where I'll cite choosiness in the organization. Some are less kid-friendly, others are strictly kid-focused. Those charities that interact with mothers or children or families are generally the most welcoming to the kids of their members. It's not too tough to bring a few books, some coloring supplies, or heck - even a tablet - so your kid can keep themselves entertained while you get down to business.
Walks Or Runs
A friend of mine, a fellow alumnus of my university, is a figure competitor. That means that she works out every day, she runs frequently, and her body is on-point. Even with two kids, she'll strap them into her dual stroller and jog or run her routes to practice. Every so often, she runs a 5k, 10k, half-marathon, or other walk/run event for charitable causes. When she does, she brings the kids along in the stroller. It's a great way for them to bond and for her to keep her fitness goals - and they can all give back together.
Running Tables At Events
My own kids have helped me be more effective at "tabling", or running a table for an organization at an event. These events are opportunities to interact with the public, raise awareness, and gain new supporters. You might have guessed I use my kids as social lubricant in these situations - and you'd be right! This is a particularly effective tactic when you're working with an organization that caters to families. Seeing a kid benefiting from the organization, and a friendly, non-judgmental parent smiling back at you, can make it easier to approach the table and engage.
While kids might not be welcome at every non-profit activity in every organization, know that there are many charities that openly welcome parents with kids in tow. It can't hurt to ask! Don't give up on your giving just because your toddler is part of the package deal.
What other ways can toddlers participate in non-profits? How has your kid been involved? Share your ideas with me on Twitter @pi3sugarpi3.