Serving During the Little Years
AUTHOR KAYLA COLVIN FOR CONFIDENT MOTHERHOOD
Beautiful mamas, I hope you find a space of encouragement, grace, and renewed spirit here.
The month of January is the official month of National slavery and human trafficking prevention. Modern slavery is an issue that is close to my heart. I would love to devote this entire article to the facts of modern slavery; please, if you have any time at all, educate yourself on the issue. It is more pressing and prevalent than you may know.
Although it would delight me to devote this space to trafficking education, I cannot ignore the broader issue pressing on my heart: Incorporating service and world-change into the “little years” of Motherhood.
Motherhood in the “little years” - raising infants, toddler, and young children - is tiring, as you well know. It can be extremely taxing; physically, mentally, and emotionally. It is hard, if not exhausting, to envision the details needed to give more of yourself and of your precious time in this season. However, it is possible to make a difference beyond your family walls in these little years, and it is so rewarding. Children are immensely impacted by the behaviors and causes of their mothers; though they are still small, your dedication to world-change is seen and soaked in by those little eyes. Participation in service has the power to improve your own life as well. There are several scientific studies reporting a strong link between happiness and serving others. If you have ever volunteered your time or resources, it is likely that you know this first-hand. I strongly believe that the quickest fix for a less-than-cheerful heart is to involve yourself in the pursuit of service.
Once upon a time, in my pre-babies life, I loved to physically involve myself in work for the charities that I held dear. Now the term “extra time” is laughable. In the time that I do have, it is just not practical, or even possible most times, to hire a babysitter or leave my husband at home with the kids while I serve like I once did. Raising babies is absolutely important work, arguably the MOST important work, but if your heart longs for more as mine does, I’d like to offer some practical ways to make your world-changing energies count.
USE WHAT YOU ALREADY HAVE
There are always local organizations that have physical needs: toiletries, supplies, clothing, toys, etc. If you’ve been watching Marie Kondo like the rest of the world, give those things that don’t “spark your joy” to an organization that supports what you are passionate about. All you have to do is load up your car and drive it over. Some organizations may even offer pick-up. Give them a call!
DO WHAT YOU’RE ALREADY DOING
Involve others, and give it a greater purpose. If you are a runner, invite your community to do a run with you; ask them to provide a donation to a cause you’re passionate about. If you love brewing your own coffee or having playdates, host a coffee morning in which you collect donations or supplies. I am a photographer, and I’m still working on the details, but I’m planning to offer children’s portrait sessions for a donation to local fostering needs. One of my favorite and recently discovered examples of this is Freedom Dinners. A mama named Kelly Welk (@kellywelk on Instagram) uses her love for cooking and hosting to host beautifully crafted dinners in order to fundraise for trafficking prevention. Her efforts started small, a few friends in her kitchen, and have grown immensely. You can find info on her fair trade shop and how to host your own freedom dinner at ciderpresslane.com.
INVOLVE YOUR BABES
As a mama of little ones, your babes are likely with you a LOT. Use that. Make crafts with their handprints and their scribbles to send to deployed soldiers, or to the elderly. Better yet, physically take those little rays of sunshine to a care-home for the elderly! Maybe pick up trash with them at the playground. Their little souls are fertile and eager for growth in service and selflessness. My two year old daughter loves to draw pictures and pick out stickers for our Compassion child (compassion.com). Not only is it a great experience for her in service, it is an opportunity for her to experience a different culture and to expose her to the reality of poverty.
BE OKAY WITH SMALL FOR NOW.
You may not be able to change the whole world during this season of motherhood. But you certainly can change someone’s world. You don’t need to launch a non-profit to make a difference. You just need to start. Right now, right where you are, with what you have right in front of you. If you’re not sure where to start, consider these questions that Welk poses in her article for Cider Press Lane, Can You REALLY Make a Difference?:
Is there a specific ‘problem that really gets you fired up? This does not have to be a big global issue. What about helping kids read, helping the elderly, local food banks, shelters, foster care…
Is there a specific way that you could help? This isn’t just about giving money! What skills do you have that you could ‘gift’ them, volunteer, give your expertise… cooking, cleaning, bookkeeping, counseling, organizing… you name it, I guarantee they NEED your help!
Is there a fun way that you could do a personal fundraiser? It’s time to think outside the box. Gather your friends and community and give people a new way to be involved. You could host Freedom Dinner like Cider Press Lane, or sell extra dahlia tubers like Willow & Mable Garden Co., or organize a movie night, or wine club, book club… Basically ANYTHING you love to do can be leveraged to bring people together and help others.
You are powerful in this season, it may just call for a bit of extra creativity. You can absolutely serve in the midst of these little years. You go, confident mama, change the world with what you’ve got.
Keep up with Kayla HERE!
Kayla is a mom of two beautiful babes, a photographer and amazing encourager. Keep up with her adventures over on Instagram!