We Mormons don’t believe in the platitudes of “doing service” we actually believe in doing service. Relief Society meetings and Ward meetings ask every week? “Who needs help?” Often the question doesn’t get answered because not everyone who needs help asks for help. If you are looking for meaningful and helpful service opportunities, then here is a list of things you can do today! You might have to get out of your comfort zone. If your days consist of just you and your kids, you and your shopping and you and your Starbucks runs, you might need to shake it up for a bit. Right now, you know people who need your help but who won’t ask. Offer and then make accepting easy. (No strings attached)
The number one issue in any family is childcare. If a woman is returning to work then the finding and paying for childcare is a huge stressor. Childcare is expensive and there is always that lingering feeling that you chose the wrong one. If you are good with children, then think about offering some free childcare. Even if you offer to watch their kids for the first week only when they go back to work might save them hundreds of dollars. After all, they may not have the big chunk of money Childcare facilities require on the first day of childcare if they haven’t even started working! Watch kids after school for working mothers. If kids get off the bus at 3:30 and Mom doesn’t get off until 6pm then there is time there where the kids are unsupervised. It should be easy enough to have them hang out with you and your kids until Mom gets home. Instead of taking pay, (unless you really need it) give them a flat fee that they can pay to cover snacks, McDonalds runs, after school swimming jaunts, etc.
Often parents who work want their kids in activities such as football and after school soccer. They are even willing to pay the fees for these activities. But, if both parents work and don’t get off by the end of practice, how will their child get home? During the fall, it gets dark at 5pm, so having the kid walk the 3 miles from the field to home is not a good idea. If you are picking up your kids after Volleyball practice, you can just as easily pick up someone else’s kid who’s at the school doing football. This is a huge service! YOU could be the deciding factor determining whether that child participates in any after school activity, at all. (REMEMBER: if you always take your kid to the Sonic for a Slushee on the way home from practice, YOU need to buy them one, too. Or warn the other parent that you go to Sonic everyday and that they can bring money for that. Most parents will offer to pay for treats or tell you that they don’t want their kid to have one. Otherwise, drop their kid off first or pay for theirs, too.) The new mother or the young mother with lots of children may need simple logistical transportation help or childcare. If you have ever been to the store with 5 children under the age of 7, then you know what herding cockroaches is like. Offering to watch kids while a young mother goes the store for an hour or two is lifesaving. Offering to pick up groceries is good, too. If asking them for the money feels awkward to you, then tell them you will text them their total $ from the store and they can have a check ready when you get back. That puts them on notice that “oh, yeah, I have to find my checkbook.” Or, now stores like Walmart will allow you to order online, and they will gather your order. You need only drive up to pick up the order. So here you go. Instead of “tsk, tsking” (dissing) other mothers because they don’t have their kids in activities, or because they let their kids go home to an empty house, step up and do something to help out. Do it without pomp or desire for aggrandizement! Don’t expect grand praise or thanks either.
There are very few feelings that compare to know that your children are safe. If you have have a normal type home that operates on love and respect as well as safety, offer your home to children as often as possible. People who need quick childcare, emergency childcare or simply a safe place for their kids to play, will benefit from YOU. The stay at home mother with a warm home and heart has plenty to offer that harried working mother undergoing a divorce or the struggling family whose spouse lost a job. When parents aren’t “ON” or performing at their best, just knowing their kids are somewhere where they are safe and stimulated in a warm environment can mean the world until they get back to being that parent they once were.