If you’re raising future global changers like I am there’s one thing I’ve learned that makes a world of difference: starting at home. Although I understand the term “global changers” might suggest that one might have an awfully big pair of shoes to fill, I’ve learned that one small act of kindness or conservation can have a ripple effect, thus creating an impact beyond the originator. During a presentation in college, I shared what has become one of my favorite quotes:
“When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation.
When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family.
Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.” ~ Unknown
Many of us are the parents of big dreamers. Our kids want to make a difference in the world. They hear stories in their classroom or on television and take it as a call to action. They remind us to donate to causes and to throw our bottles away in the right bin. They are curious about social issues such as homelessness. They accompany us to charitable events and are most often eager to help.
I believe in giving our children the opportunity to give back. I believe in instilling and modeling compassion and humility as parents. I believe that these are all lessons that can first start at home. These are the things that have the ability to become second nature. These are the things that can, directly or indirectly, have a ripple effect — changing our children, our family, our communities, our nation and the world.
In support of our pint sized philanthropists and conservationists, I wanted to share ways that kids can make a difference in the world — without even leaving the house (and as an added incentive many of these things can be done whilst in pajamas).
1. Send letters or cards. Sit down as a family and write a thank you letter to our troops or send words of encouragement to hospital patients. Or even write a note to express appreciation for a teacher or neighbor. Never underestimate the power of the human heart or words. Words can lift spirits and comfort hearts.
2. Turn it off. Save water and energy by turning things off. For instance turn off the water while brushing your teeth and remember to turn lights off.
3. Pick up behind yourselves. Get into the habit of picking up or cleaning up behind yourselves. Whether it is after a meal or art project at home, it is an important habit to build and will come in handy outside of the home. Cleaning up their mess after a picnic in the park and properly disposing of their trash at the fair or a restaurant plays a role in keeping our environment clean.
4. Upcycle. Find ways to reuse products and items you already have at home. Wipe containers can become storage for art supplies and cardboard boxes can make great dollhouses and caves. In our particular case, we are often only limited by our imaginations and perhaps by how much tape and glue we have on hand.
5. Take shorter showers. Contrary to popular belief a bath doesn’t necessarily result in less water usage (although smaller aged siblings love taking baths together which may result in less water usage). Encourage your children to take shorter showers and be sure to follow suit! Set a timer or if you’ve got a super star shower singer at home like me, try having them turn off the water after one, two, or three songs (this may vary depending on the length of the songs).
6. Research. Spend some time on the Internet researching charitable organizations. Select a cause to support as a family. Now is your chance to call or send an email to inquire about volunteer opportunities.
7. Organize gently worn clothing, toys and books. Spend some time going through clothing, toys and books. If a clothing item is gently worn but doesn’t fit or a toy or book is in great condition but no longer in line with your children’s interest consider blessing someone else by donating. My rule of thumb here – don’t give someone else’s child something you wouldn’t want given to your child. Items that are not suitable can be put in another area and disposed of properly.
8. Donate. Consider making a secure online donation for a special cause or arrange for a charitable organization to come pickup items for donation. If you’re donating larger sized items such as furniture pieces, oftentimes organizations offer free pickup.
9. Make double-sided masterpieces. If you’ve got a budding artist or writer at home, chances are you go through a lot of paper. Encourage your child to create on both sides to save paper (and trees).
10. Host a fundraiser and raise money for a cause – Have a lemonade sale in the driveway, bake pies to sell, make a pretend circus, or have your kids throw a concert and ask for a donation for admission. There are many fun activities one can do at home and still result in making a difference.
What are some of the ways you and your family are changing the world from home?