You can’t get much done when you’re caring for multiple kids, a new baby, or a child with special needs. Often parents in your community are in that position too, overwhelmed by tasks that become familiar but no less tedious. The good news is we’re all here for one another.
While you can’t do everything for everyone, you can do some things for someone. Support for parents comes in different forms: favors, teamwork, gifts, information, and even just a little encouragement. In that spirit, here are thirty-three quick somethings you can do today to give parents in your neighborhood a breather.
- Run errands for another parent when you’re already out doing your own.
- Offer to watch her kids for a few hours so she can do whatever she’d like.
- Draft three or four different birth announcements for a new mom to choose from so she doesn’t have to do the design work herself.
- Do the same for older kids who have birthdays coming up.
- Follow suit with holiday cards, offering to take photos of her kids for free. Not camera-savvy? Keep in mind smartphone photography is laden with onl ine tutorials that allow you to brush up on your skills.
- Walk her dog once, or make it a weekly routine if you’re starting an exercise regimen.
- During her kids’ next visit to the doctor, offer to touch up the house and quickly dust, sweep, or mop while she’s out tending to this regular appointment.
- Enough homework help can make a parent feel like they’re in school, too. Be the one doing “homework time” with her kids once a week. Have them join your kids during their own homework time, encouraging everyone to stay on task.
- Offer to pick her preschooler up once a week before preschool. Shuttle him or her to and from so she doesn’t have to load up her other children or leave the house again for this one trip.
- Call the principal of your local elementary or middle school and ask how you can volunteer. Most of its parents need the help during field trips and fundraisers, and your presence would make that possible.
- Host a kids’ game night at your house with charades and snacks. Offer rides to and from the fun.
- Shovel her driveway in winter, mow her lawn in the summer, or rake her leaves in the fall.
- Organize yourself and others to bring meals on a shared rotation.
- Too busy on a given day? Have someone else cover a task on your behalf (as long as you’re back and ready next week).
- Before donating clothes or toys, ask whether your friend could use any of them.
- Don’t toss your child’s artwork once it’s run its course on your fridge; send it to a neighboring child with special needs. Seeing a smile as s/he opens it will brighten your fellow parent’s day.
- Leave a baked treat on her doorstep every now and then. This gesture lasts well after the plate is empty.
- Cook a double amount of your family’s supper and deliver it.
- Not a chef? Have pizza delivered right to their door.
- Go for a twofer: send parents of multiples movie tickets for an evening you offer to watch their kids.
- Provide support for parents on a dinner date at a nearby table by paying their bill anonymously.
- Sign up struggling parents with an information-sharing app like Ne xtDoor, which can be specific to your neighborhood. It will alert parents of pending inclement weather, petty crimes, impromptu cookouts, and lost pets without them having to leave the house.
- Tell a friend about hard lessons you may have learned in a common task by trial and error. This could mean alerting them to an unreliable mechanic down the street, a particularly great thrift store, or even natural pro ducts that have made a positive difference in your own home.
- Every time you take a trip to the library, ask what topic she’d be interested in and get a few books on that subject for her. Offer to return it for her a few weeks later.
- Write a quick note for motivation during a tough experience you know she’s going through, and leave it in her mailbox.
- Tell her what good deeds you see her kids doing (even a small action deserves praise).
- Keep an eye out for inspirational quotes about the things that matter, and share the ones you know would resonate.
- Compliment her in front of others next time you’re together.
- Urge her to give back, even if she only has a few min utes to spare. As you know, people benefit the most from helping others.
- Tell her you’re thankful for her family’s company. Sometimes the best encouragement is letting them know how they help you.
- Identify strong character traits you observe in her kids personalities, and call them out. Tell her how those will help them succeed.
- Share your own struggles and frustrations, but end every conversation by explaining what gives you hope and makes you thankful.
- Sign her up to receive new blog posts via email from an upbeat natural living blog like Goo d Matters.
Most people just don’t know how to help parents in the neighborhood. These good deeds are things you can do today to make a positive difference.
Image source: Bethany Johnson
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.