Putting the Phone Down

Putting the Phone Down

Sneakers on, I strapped my daughter into her stroller and ran to my son’s preschool. Normally, I take the car to pick him up, and we were all excited for a nice walk home. Picking flowers, banging rocks, and noticing every detail around him, my son savored the walk. I, on the other hand, became a bit bored. A ten-minute walk morphed into a forty-minute walk as we stopped every few feet. Did I engage with my son as he honed his observational skills? No. Pushing the stroller with my left hand, I began googling “healthy sugar cookie recipes” with my right hand.

flowers

A good Reminder

Googling while walking isn’t a horrible thing to do, but I was convicted about it later that night while listening to my favorite podcast, Inspired to Action. In the episode I listened to the host, Kat Lee, interview Dawn Wible, founder of TalkMoreTechLess.com. Dawn shared some staggering statistics, including the fact that, on average, people check their phones 150 times each day, which equates to roughly every 10 minutes. She talked about how excessive use of electronics causes dependency and can take away from our time connecting with nature and with others.

I like Dawn’s message because she encouraged me to take small steps in order to “talk more and tech less.” She encourages people to start by keeping phones away from mealtimes and bedrooms, and she even sells a “detox box” as a reminder to put the phones away for periods of time. While I recognize that my iphone has many benefits, I also frequently feel guilty about using it when I’m with my kids.

me and e

An Unconventional form of Service

For #serveyourfamilyfriday this week, I’m encouraging you (and myself) to make an extra effort to take your eyes off of your screens and to intentionally engage with your family. After I was reminded about the benefits of doing so, I left my phone in another room for an hour, and my son and I played a fun game of basketball (I use the word “game” loosely: he never actually let me touch the ball). I was glad my phone was in the kitchen so I could truly focus on my son.

I’m planning to craft some specific boundaries to help me in this area, and if you have any tips on how to reduce screen time, I’d love to hear them!  Also, if you’d like to receive our simple ideas for service, click here to start a club of your own.  Thank you so much for reading this, and let’s go love people (including our family members) on purpose!

Reflections on our Trail Cleanup Project

Reflections on our Trail Cleanup Project

Our Experience

The sun rose over the mountaintop as we opened the breakfast bag given to volunteers. I bounced Everly in the ergo to keep her from fussing.Teams of teenagers completing mandated community-service hours congregated next to buff mountain bikers ready to give back to the trails. And there we were: me, a woman not exactly known for her strength, and my 18 month-old daughter, clinging to her fisher-price shovel. Not long after we got there, my husband arrived with our 4 year-old son, we grabbed a pair of clippers and headed for the trails.

clipping
“I’ve never seen volunteers that young before,” a ranger muttered. “Future rangers of America,” I answered proudly. When we got to our assigned area, we were instructed to look for fennel. Apparently, it isn’t indegenious to the area, and it takes water away from other plants. My husband was actually doing some work clipping while I followed Everly around, trying to make sure she didn’t eat any of the trail mix that she had dropped in the dirt. Scott came back and informed us that the rest of the fennel was located in an area replete with poisonous plants, and we realized that there really wasn’t much more we could do to help. The ranger told us to take a walk, to enjoy the day.

trail

Reflections

Because of sharp tools and poisonous plants, this project is probably better suited for older volunteers. However, I’m still glad we went. Why? I like the idea that we spent our Saturday learning about the environment. I like that my son is learning that it is important to participate in community service days, and I like that he was talking to me later on about how he helped “get that fennel” so that other plants could grow. I know there are people out there doing more important, helpful things, and I hope we will be more like those people in the future, but, for now, I’m grateful for the experience, and I’m also grateful that my daughter didn’t ingest dirty raisins or poison oak.

Want to do something like this with your family?

If your kids are a bit older, or if you want to try something like this regardless, you can see my post “Taking Care of the Environment” for tips on how to get started. Do you have any tips on how to help kids take care of the environment? If so please share them! Also, if you are interested, click here to start a club of your own. Thank you so much for reading, and let’s go serve our community on purpose.

Three Ways to Inspire Kindness in your Children

Three Ways to Inspire Kindness in your Children

I don’t even have to step the playroom to encounter selfishness in my house. I can hear it before I walk in the door. “Mine” yells my toddler, “but I got it first,” replies her 4 year-old brother. As a mom, I’m constantly asking the question, “How can I help my kids be kinder to others?”

Encourage random acts of kindness:

Recently, we were at the park. The coolest thing happened: there was a little girl there who came up and introduced herself to my son. She said “Hi, my name is Hannah, do you want to play with my dog?” She brought two stuffed dog animals to the park: One for her and one to share with a friend. They had so much fun. This small act of kindness inspired me. I’m hoping to help my kids do random act of kindness like this. If you’d like to do random act of kindness with your kids and you’d like some ideas, I will be posting a kindness challenge of the day on Twitter and Instagram. Feel free to follow me; I’d love to hear your ideas too!

 waving

Put Service on your Calendar:

Because of my New Year’s Resolution this year, I’ve tried to be more intentional about making serving a part of our lives. I’ve committed to doing one service activity with my kids each month, and I put it on the calendar to make it part of our plan. (I love plans). The service projects aren’t super complicated: for the first one, we brought popcorn to firefighters. If you’d like to join in on the fun, I will be posting ideas and tips for a different family-friendly service project each month. Some of these ideas include bringing cards to residents of assisted-living homes, doing local trail cleanups, helping the homeless, making Easter baskets for kids with cancer, and many others. Regardless of whether or not you join our “club,” the important thing is to put service on your calendar.

Model kindness:

Occasionally, when we’re playing with my son’s Sesame Street characters, I  will force Elmo to act out what showing kindness looks like. This is pretty cheesy, but so what? It just might help. More than that, we all know it’s true:  if we want our kids to be kind, we need to be kind ourselves. This can be tough, especially when we are tired and stressed. I’m still growing in this area, but I’m trying to write nice notes and do nice things for people around me. I hope that if my kids see me (and Elmo) showing kindness, they will want to be kind too.

Thank you so much for reading; it is a constant challenge to combat selfishness in ourselves and in our kids, and by sharing ideas, we can all become better at teaching our kids this important skill. Feel free to check out our website at www.familyserviceclub.org or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.  I know that the bickering in our playroom will probably continue, but I hope that by planning and encouraging kindness, I may hear some nicer words through the door as well. Do you have any ideas that have helped foster kindness in your family? I’d love to hear them!

If you have any comments, please click over to Contact Us to share your thoughts. Thank you so much!

 

*Also, if you like this post, and you want to check out other family-friendly posts, check out my sister’s blogger association.