Early motherhood is hard. Sleep at night is perforated by the bodily functions of the children, from eating to pooping to vomiting. If you fix me with that pediatrician stare and say “Enurises,” my eye will start twitching. Really. It’s funny.
When one is the caretaker of babies and toddlers, it’s really, really easy to get depressed, bored, lonely. Sleep deprivation, stress, and postpartum hormones don’t help. But service does help. The best kinds of service lift people out of their isolation, sadness, and boredom, give children a deeper appreciation for what they have, and build a culture of love that goes beyond family, friends, and comfort zones.
So, without further ado:
4 or 5-ish SOUL-HEALING, HEART-LIFTING, RAINBOW MAKING SERVICE OPPORTUNITIES FOR MOTHERS OF YOUNG CHILDREN (Including Toddlers and Babies):
- Become cultural companions with an immigrant/refugee family. Or just befriend them. In husband’s and my experience, befriending people brand new to America is really easy. If you’ve ever been in a foreign country with no familiar people around you, you know how lonely it can get, and what a blessing a friendly and willing stranger can be. It’s possible he has run into jet lagged new people at the library before and invited them for dinner. Because he’s awesome like that. I’m going to write a whole post on why kicking it with brand new Americans this is the best life choice you could ever make, but here, I must be brief.
- WHY THIS IS IDEAL WITH CHILDREN: Immigrant young mothers are going through all the same difficulties as you are, compounded by language barriers and culture shock. When you have children in common, it’s amazing how well you can bond and communicate without a common language. The joys (and bodily fluid messes) of motherhood transcend language, culture, religion, and nationality. Trust me. Also, our babies all speak the same language, and it’s adorable.
- Go to a nursing home. I am blessed by friends who regularly organize trips to nursing homes all over our area. We go with them to sing songs, hand out cards and pictures, hold hands, and generally have a lovely, loving time. And every time I go, I think, we need to do this all the time. Every week. Every day. Why aren’t we living at the home with these wonderful people when their time with our children is so obviously, mutually beneficial????
- WHY THIS IS IDEAL WITH CHILDREN: The sweet souls we visit all love our kids. Even (perhaps especially) the baby is a wonderful volunteer, who will snuggle and smile at every elderly grandma who wishes to hold her (I have to help support baby and arthritic hands). Babies are magical in nursing homes. When Husband and I went as fiancees to volunteer, they’d sometimes hold our hands and want us to stay longer than we could. It breaks the heart to leave. With the baby, the arthritic grandmas talk to each other so excitedly about having held her, the parting is not as sad. Older children learn compassion and gentleness and end up being rather reflective on things like aging and mortality. It’s good for everyone, at every age.
- Neighborhood clean up. They’re picking cigarette butts off the curb anyway. Might as well give them some gloves and a receptacle that’s not their mouths.
- WHY THIS IS IDEAL WITH CHILDREN: Fresh air. Running around. Dirt. GERMS! This doesn’t actually need elaboration.
- Bake Treats for Neighbor. Because neighbors really do seem to enjoy sugary pinterest fails with toddler fingerprints in them.
- WHY THIS IS IDEAL WITH CHILDREN: Sugary. Pinterest. Fails.
- IN CONCLUSION:
- JUST SERVE. Because it fills the postpartum soul in ways that a pint of Ben and Jerry’s* cannot. Strange, but true.
*Though this is also an excellent remedy for postpartum woes.