Tuesday, December 3, 2019

The RFML Guide to Helping Muthas Out

 - This post is updated from 2014 - 

It's officially the holidays! And that does not mean spending too much money and giving in to the constant barrage of advertising that is turning my children into little beasts of consumer consumption and RUINING my precious Kindle time

For me, making the holidays awesome is easy - make it about HELPING. A couple of years ago, I started a tradition with my kiddos where every week between Thanksgiving and New Years, we do something good for someone else. It can be big or little, but we do it together. 

We skipped this tradition last year because I was on a book deadline, and the truth is that we all really regretted not making the time for it. I swore after last year, I would always prioritize THIS over everything else we do for the holidays.


Now just a note that I get this doesn't work for everybody and no one should feel bad about that. Honestly, when I had little bitty kids I would've cried if someone told me I had to do a month's worth of service projects with them in their diapers and car seats and ear infections, in addition to trying to deal with all my regular stuff AND getting the holidays sorted out. So a couple of years ago (to make things slightly easier for parents who might want to do this but struggle with making it work) I made some graphics that provide some ideas for stuff that kids can do, even if they're little (see below).

As my kids have gotten older, this tradition has become even more important.  It is so good for us to put down our phones, quit bickering with each other, STOP WITH THE SELF-FOCUS already, and start thinking about how we can be of service to others. Tweens and teens tend to get stuck in their own heads, dealing with pressure at school and the cycle of social comparison every kid with an iPhone now has to deal with almost constantly. 

The thing is, big kids have so much to offer their community. They're smart and hilarious and ridiculously proficient at lifting heavy things without the need for ibuprofen afterward. It's profoundly good for their brains and hearts to get out there and help. This being said, you will likely get eye-rolls and heavy sighs from them when it's time to leave the house. That's normal, expect it. They'll be fine when they get there and about 100 pounds lighter when they get home. Trust me.

So here are some ideas on how you can help in your community and also a brief overview of we're doing this year:

If you want the 411 on paying off lay-aways, it's right here.

Ask your school or daycare admin folks or counselors if any of the families need a little hand this holiday season. 
Some schools have a list of needed items. Some years, I bought grocery store and pharmacy gift cards because some kids might not get enough to eat over the holidays (when school lunches, etc aren't provided). This should always be done confidentially and respectfully of classmates' privacy. 

Note: when buying those gift cards, I asked about places/chain stores where those moms could buy food, diapers, and medicine within walking distance or on a bus route. 



Here are volunteering ideas I made for kids, broken out by age group:






Stuff we're doing this year:



  • Donating food and delivering meals for low income and home-bound families
  • Volunteering at church (teens) - helping out with Sunday School, selling Christmas trees, dressing as shepherds at the live manger/petting zoo (OH YES, they are dressing up - mwah ha ha!!!)
  • Buying gifts/gift cards via an "Angel Tree" for families receiving social services
  • Prepping shelter for homeless hypothermia program
  • Donating/making food for hypothermia guests
  • Being helper elves at a "Breakfast with Santa" that serves domestic violence victims and their kiddos.
  • Trying to (but possibly not pulling off - still waiting to see) a gingerbread house party at a local family homeless shelter.
(c) Mommyland Blogs 2019

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