We all want our lives to matter, and despite the deep meaningfulness of staying home with a new baby, toddlers, and/or preschoolers, the stay-at-home period can also be a particularly lonely and brain-draining period of life.
A lot of positive self-talk goes into keeping yourself joyfully washing the same crib sheets, bibs, floors, sippies, high chair trays, toy trucks, bath letters, and tiny bottoms over and over. For sanity’s sake, it helps to stay connected to causes and people outside our own four walls. Here are five tried-and-true ideas of impactful activities you can do to make a difference in the world even with kids intow!
- Invite someone over for coffee/lunch. Know a neighbor who lives alone? A teenager who could use some encouragement? A college kid who needs a home-away-from-home? Your home… even with all of its activity, life, mess, and non-stop noise… can be a sanctuary for someone else. It always feels good to be invited somewhere, right? Just the act of inviting someone into your home tells them that they are important to you. And once you are comfortable together, the messes and interruptions and real-time life stop mattering quite so much. You fall into a rhythm of just being together that is more important than what you are doing or where you are, and that fills up something inside each of you.
- Write letters. From sponsored children (we get regular letters from our Compassion sponsored child!) to prisoners (https://writeaprisoner.com/), there are thousands of people in the world looking for connection and friendship! Instead of just mailing a check or dropping off a donation at Goodwill, do something that will make someone feel personally known and remembered… and you don’t even have to leave home to do it! Throw in a hand-drawn “picture” from your 2-year old, and you’ve got a golden ticket for making someone else feel valued.
- Visit a nursing home. I worked in a nursing home in high school, and boy, what a self-esteem booster that was! I wasn’t particularly gorgeous, fashion-conscious, or graceful in high school. But every hall I walked down in the nursing home, I heard “Honey, you are so skinny!” “Look at that beautiful hair!” “How did you get such pretty nails?” And I still remember all the compliments my 4 year old brother got on his long eyelashes when we visited nursing homes with my mom as a kid. I think every stressed-out mama and rambunctious toddler (and insecure teenager) should be paired with a lonely 90 year old. The world balances out quickly with just a little added perspective.
- Actually pray for people. I know, this one feels like a cop-out because it’s not doing something tangible – but I believe it’s highly influential! Not only is it refreshing for our own spirits, the Bible tells us that the prayer of a righteous person is “powerful and effective.” Plus, once you model it a few times, the littles start to get the idea. And listening to little people praying is just about the most precious sound on earth!
- Foster a child. Hey, if you’re home all day with little people anyway, why not throw one more into the mix! You might as well make a lasting difference in another kid’s life, too, while you’re in this mothering phase. And if you’re lucky, you may even gain a friend and make a lasting difference in another mama’s life, too. Every mom of a kid in foster care could use a few more healthy friendships with other moms.
Huh. I guess most of these suggestions have to do with relationships. Human interaction is worth a lot more than we give it credit for! Let’s get out there, mama – there are people beyond our smudgy windows who need us! And if we’re honest… we need them, too.