Parenting demands creativity, but so does living responsibly. That’s why online communities are so important. I was recently running on creative fumes while brainstorming how to combine an educational activity for my kids with a way to make a positive difference. Because our family is so busy, we often combine life lessons with daily activities, and that was my goal.
As a writer, I’m inspired by the idea of teaching entrepreneurship and volunteerism at the same time. And when life gives you lemons, well, you find out why they’re important to you. This season, I took them literally with an idea for the family: hosting our own lemonade stand and supporting a worthy cause with our profits.
What Drives You?
Kids are interested in money at different ages and for different reasons. Some kids don’t care about spending the cash, but really love the rush of achieving something. Others have a specific monetary amount in mind that serves as a “finish line,” or a measured challenge. Your own might be preparing for a trip or eyeing something at the store that keeps them motivated to fundraise. If they’re already driven by money, you won’t need to instill a sense of entrepreneurship, but you will need to teach them practical advantages to building their assets.
Still others couldn’t care less about money, in which case you can focus on what does motivate them. One of my kids doesn’t care to earn money, but loves to earn privileges and rewards.
Whether or not your kids are money-motivated, a lemonade stand will be a hit.
Resist the temptation to go overboard on your display. Start with some inspiration from the lemonade stand ideas currently online, and listen to your child’s observations; you want them to “own” the idea, after all. Be sure the idea you do entertain reflects your child, not yourself.
Setting up should be a breeze if you’ve kept things simple. A tray table with a table cloth makes a simple canvas for a great display, and your child’s own handmade signs will attract the most attention.
When It’s Not Easy?
While waiting for customers, ask the kids whether they understand the old cliché, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” It might yield a few wild guesses, but one of them will eventually be on the right track. Explain how sometimes, life really does hand you difficult circumstances, and when that happens, we all have choices.
Of course some people don’t have the choices we do. Albeit a tough concept for a child to understand, your favorite nonprofit can make for the right illustration. For example, some folks were given a disability they can choose to overcome, but only if they’re willing to be creative. Others were given a geographical upbringing that makes it inherently difficult to get the things they need, such as clean water and good working conditions. Choices are a gift, and the choice to make lemonade out of life’s lemons doesn’t always come easily.
Or It Takes an Extra Lemon?
Occasionally, we can create choices for others by volunteering. Animal therapy teams give kids the chance to provide non-judgmental company alongside a dog or cat, and food distribution centers give dinner choices to families who might have been confined to a less-palatable meal that night.
As I talked with my kids, we explored ideas of what to do with the cash that we had earned. We kicked around lots of investments, but my preschooler landed on donating to the local animal shelter—and she couldn’t be talked out of it. The thing about advocating for animals is that without people, they don’t have a voice to speak up for themselves. This might strike a chord with your kids as it did mine.
Somehow, parents know deep down that making a difference in the world doesn’t need to be a chore or dependent on tangible reward. We know it should be fun, and kids should want to be a positive influence for its own sake. In that spirit, combining a fun learning activity like a lemonade stand with the goodness of supporting volunteer organizations benefits both your kids and your community.
Have you ever combined an economic lesson with a philanthropic one? Try it this summer with your own lemonade stand if you haven’t already. Be sure to come back and tell us how it went, and tweet a picture to @TomsofMaine.
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.