This week in the Summer of Kindness, we are holding a diaper drive. This is a change in the planned schedule. Originally, we were going to make hygiene kits for kids through an amazing nonprofit called Hope and Comfort. However, you may remember back in the very first week of the Summer of Kindness we made care packages for the homeless. This was a cool activity that we still get to talk about because we keep these care packages in our car to pass out to the homeless if we see one.
We made the decision then to make those care packages hygiene focused - primarily because we did not want any food to melt in the car in the heat of the summer. Since we made hygiene packages then, it was feeling redundant to make more hygiene packages just a few weeks later. So, after a bit of research, I found an organization in our community called A Place to Turn that collects diapers.
As someone who has been buying diapers (yes…still) for 8 years without a break, I KNOW how much they cost and how much they contribute to our monthly expenses. They cost a lot. I also know that if we run out of diapers, we jump in the car, head to the store, and buy some more. Easy peasy. The disparity of how easy it is for us to pay for diapers for over 8 years and the trade-off decisions other parents must make to keep their child in clean diapers is a good lesson for our kids.
That's the reason for the shift.
But, the real thing I want to talk about is not just diapers.
It's about finding the right time to talk to your kid about a kindness project. I've been pretty straightforward on this blog that I struggle getting my oldest on board with service activities. Not because, he's not kind. Just the opposite. But, because he doesn't like being told what to do and doesn't want anything to take away from his play time.
I've had to be opportunistic in my approach with him constantly trying new things since kindness and service to others is value we have in our family. This means that I'm always looking for the right opportunity to bring it up. I'm watching his mood. I'm watching his schedule to make sure he's not overloaded. And, I'm using things he's IN to as leverage. Yep, leverage.
This week, we are riding in the car on the way to soccer camp. We are about five minutes away. I just so happened to put on the kids new favorite podcast called Big Life Kids podcast (It is AWESOME by the way. I highly recommend checking it out) and it was an episode on doing good in your community. He was engaged in the podcast - laughing and smiling along….he even had me stop it to ask a question about something he didn't understand.
THEN, the podcast (which we listen to religiously) invited their Big Life kid listeners to send them emails, pictures, and texts of them doing good in their community for a chance to be featured in their podcast.
I turned down the volume and said, "hey - did you hear that? They invited you to tell them about all the good you do in the community. You guys do good in your community all the time!"
"Oh yeah! We do! What could we do and tell them about?" he responded. "Well…I've been thinking about something I read about some families in need in our community…". Yes - it was that storybook.
So, I pitched the idea of doing a diaper drive.
We only had a few minutes before we got to soccer camp, so I had to be quick and get them on board before we arrived. I kept it short and simple. I made it personal - we still buy diapers all the time, so it was something they understood pretty easily. We also talk about money all the time, so when I told them how much it costs for a family to buy diapers (on average $89 per month) they totally got it.
Then, they asked me questions. I LOVE when they ask me questions, because it means they are listening and engaged. We had a great conversation. With everyone excited and bought in, we got to soccer camp and I ended the conversation while I was ahead.
The theme this week? Be opportunistic.
Here are 8 steps on how to be opportunistic when talking to your kids about service projects.
Be prepared! All this means for parents is to have an idea or two of an activity you'd like to do with your kids in mind. It's hard to be opportunistic if you haven't taken a few minutes to get some ideas. Need some ideas? You are in the right place. Check out a few of the ideas of the Summer of Kindness initiative.
Ready…? Once you have the ideas, be on the lookout for those opportunities. They could pop up any time. Something they bring up from school. Or someone you see while you're out running errands. Or something you hear on the radio (or a podcast) while driving your kids to soccer camp.
Make it relevant. Connect your activity/idea to whatever opportunity you're taking advantage of in that moment. It doesn't work (for most kids) when you are listening to a podcast about one thing and then pitch something entirely different - they'll just think you're interrupting them.
Connect it to YOUR community. I am most successful with my kids in doing service projects if I connect it to what is going on. It doesn't have to be scientific and you don't necessarily need all the statistics (1 or 2 might help to drive the point home). But, if your kids have the chance to really see and feel the impact of the action they are taking, it will help convince them to do something!
Keep it short and simple. This is where I often say follow your kids lead and keep it age appropriate. Short, simple, and concise is the name of the game.
Make it personal. Try to relate it to a personal experience, a person you know, or even a landmark/building in your neighborhood.
Answer their questions. This is your opportunity to engage with them. Listen deeply. Answer their questions. BUT only answer their questions…don't ramble (this is MY biggest challenge).
End the conversation while you are ahead! If things are going well in the dialogue, bring it to a quick close. Check for understanding on what you're going to do. And, then move on! Stop when everyone is happy and in alignment before the conversation takes a turn for the worse….and it always does!
In all, my conversation with my kids on doing this activity was a total of 5 minutes. Once they are in, it's easier to keep them engaged during the process. That said, I still have to break up the steps of the activity into bite-sized chunks to keep them going with it.
This activity was intended to be a week long activity. One of the things my kids and I decided was that we would call the library to see if they would host our drive. This was fun for my kids because I called both the organization we are supporting (A Place To Turn) and the central library on speaker so they could listen in. They loved it.
Anyway, we called the library and they said we could keep the collection bin for the diapers in their library for the entire month of August! More than I bargained for, BUT who am I to turn down an opportunity to do good? So, we are off today to drop off the bins and will be doing regular pick-ups. My kids are putting up flyers at their camps and telling their friends. I'm posting on social media (and letting them watch). And, that's it.
Check out this week's free download which includes some great books about poverty that can help spur a conversation around why a diaper drive would be important, how-to's on doing the activity, a planning worksheet for your kids, AND a ready-to-go flyer to post around your town.
I can't wait to hear how it goes! And, I'd love to hear how you take advantage of opportunities to convince your kids to do good. What are some of your tips?