Family is so important. We’d all like to see our families grow closer and stronger. But finding the time and the activities to bring our family members together can be a challenge.
Different ages, interests, schedules, and personalities can make it difficult to get everyone on the same page. But despite our many differences, we’re still family.
Volunteering as a family is an excellent way to close the gap between ages, interests, and more. It’s an activity that everyone can enjoy, while learning the value of doing good things for the causes and the people we care about.
With April being National Volunteer Month, we took time to consider the many ways that volunteering could help make your family closer and stronger.
You’ll have time without distractions
It’s not just the kids who are glued to their screens these days. So many of us allow our digital devices to demand more attention than the people around us. We’re all guilty of allowing work, social media, and a million other digital distractions to keep us from spending quality time with each other.
Volunteering gives us a set amount of time during which we can put away our phones, our tablets, and everything else that beeps and rings. It gives everyone a shared task to complete, requiring us to be present and work together.
When the screens disappear, we’re reminded of how nice it is to have real conversations with one another. We can learn so much about each other when we take the time to really engage, without the barrier of a screen.
Volunteering challenges everyone
Volunteering as a family can be hard work. Depending on what type of volunteer work you do, your family can be challenged in a variety of ways. It’s a chance to leave your comfort zone and try new things, together.
In high school, I would volunteer with my family each month at the local soup kitchen. As a kid, I wasn’t very interested in cooking. But in the soup kitchen, it was my job to make food, so I had to learn. My mom had always wanted to teach me and my siblings the cooking skills her mother taught her as a kid. The soup kitchen gave her the opportunity to do just that, and my siblings and I got to learn a new skill that we may not have been interested in exploring otherwise.
Perhaps your family will take on a more physical activity, like assisting in the construction of homes or working with sea turtles!
Not only will you be challenged individually, you’ll also be forced to work as a team. Solving problems, helping each other with various tasks, and getting your hands dirty together is a great way to remember the value that each member of your family brings to the table.
You’re better together than you are on your own — that’s what families are for!
You’ll learn the value of generosity
Volunteering as a family shows us the power we have to create change and genuinely help people who need it.
Sure, we could donate to the causes we care about. But when we actively work to support those causes, we experience how important it is to be generous with our time and our energy.
If you volunteer as a family, the smiles you’ll see are all the evidence you need to know how important it is to give back to our communities. Volunteer with animals, and you’ll experience the precious relationship between all creatures on this planet. Volunteer in your neighborhood, and you’ll learn how great it feels to connect with the people around you.
These lessons can translate to how generous we are with our families, too. By seeing the impact we can have on others, just by giving them some time, we also witness how important it is to give time to the people we love.
You’ll share unique memories
Sure, you could collect the standard family memories each year; celebrating holidays, watching a movie together, or enjoying a special meal for someone’s birthday. But your family is unique. So make some unique memories, too!
Volunteering as a family can bring you all over the world, if you choose to travel for your volunteer program. Discover Corps has programs in Costa Rica, Cuba, India, and Peru, among others.
Volunteer opportunities are already a special kind of experience. Add travel to the mix and you’ll be sharing the experience of new culture, foreign language, exotic foods, and so much more. Your family will also get to experience what families look like in other cultures. Most likely, no matter how far you travel, you’ll discover that families all over the world are a lot like your own.
But you don’t have to travel to have a unique experience with your family. Do some research and pick a cause that involves something you’ve never tried, like construction or gardening. The possibilities are endless.
You realize that community is like a big family, too
Volunteering as a family is a great way to bring your kin closer together. But the idea of family becomes bigger than your own when you get involved in communities and join others in working towards a common cause.
When your family volunteers together, you’ll meet new people and become part of an even bigger family. Boundaries between ages, genders, cultures, or even languages fall away when there’s a common cause to work for. Relationships form quickly when you’re working hard to make the world a better place.
Your family’s volunteer experience will highlight the importance of your own family, as well as the importance of your community family.
It can feel like time is moving too fast when it comes to spending time with our families. Which is why we should all make the most of the time we have. Clear some time in your busy schedule, and try something new with the members of your family.
By volunteering with your family, you’ll be helping others while you help yourself. Strong families make for strong communities — which make for a happier, healthier world. –Britany Robinson
BIO: Britany Robinson is a freelance travel and culture writer based in Portland, Oregon. Her works appears in BBC Travel, Mashable, The Daily Dot and more. Her blog, Travel Write Away, shares advice and musings on travel writing. When she’s not planning her next big trip, she’s scoping out Portland craft beers and local hikes.