Our most recent guest post is from Stephanie at JustAsIAmNow.com. Thank you for dedicating some of your time and talents to Little Hands Can, Stephanie!
My name is Stephanie. I am a mama to two wonderful little boys and I firmly believe that it is my job, and yours, as a parent, among other things, to teach our little ones to have empathy, giving hearts, and show kindness towards the people in our communities.
A great way to demonstrate these traits mentioned above to our children is through simple acts of servitude; acts that are not done for the sake of boasting your own greatness, for seeking thanks or praise, or for any kind of return of investment.
Things that are done merely out of the kindness of your heart.
Simple and genuine acts that are performed just for the sake of brightening another person’s day, even if for just a moment.
One fantastic way to serve your community and, even more, an often times forgotten population, is to take a visit to your local nursing facility.
Now hold up a sec.
You may be thinking in your head “Why? Why, Stephanie, would you choose a place like that to take your kids? What’s the point?”
Nursing homes can be smelly (believe me, I know, I’ve worked in a few).
They can be, at times, sad.
And, yes, some of the people there won’t remember you just moments after you leave.
But all of these things don’t mean that the people who call that place their home are not worth our time, attention and compassion.
So, get ready for some facts…
Did you know that according to www.statista.com there are over 15,000 nursing homes in the United States?
That’s a lot.
How about the fact that according to the website www.longtermcare.acl.gov “Someone turning 65 today has almost a 70% chance of needing some type of long term care services”?
That’s a huge percentage!
Granted not all of that 70% will end up in a nursing facility, as some people can afford private care, but you can bet that a lot of them will.
Now onto why it can be so beneficial for the older folks you’d be visiting and your kids.
As you may have witnessed before, kids have a beautifully effortless way of interacting with people from all generations and walks of life and making them feel special and noticed.
Children haven’t experienced enough social situations or had the time to develop the sense of self doubt that a lot of us adults carry around each day, leaving us feeling awkward and unsure of ourselves.
For this reason kids can walk around with the freedom to let their personalities shine and a lot of times connect easily with people they may have just met.
Sometimes just being in the presence of a child can brighten a person’s day, if just for a moment. Even if they aren’t directly interacting with them, the joy of a child can spread like wildfire.
Also, as you may know, not everyone who lives day in and day out in a nursing home has visitors that come around to see them. Some don’t have family local enough to visit. Some may have family nearby, but they don’t take the time to visit. And some just simply don’t have anyone.
Here’s what my family did!
When I was working in a nursing home back in 2017, my son who was three at the time was brought in for a visit during one of my shifts.
It was around Christmastime.
My little guy had been Santa (or Ho-Ho as he calls him) just a couple of months earlier for Halloween. So I had planned, with my sister-in-law, to have him bring in his (ADORABLE!) Santa suit to pass out candy canes to all of the residents at the facility where I was working.
It was truly heartwarming to watch.
I cannot believe the impact that this one act had on so many people.
Myself, the residents, my coworkers, and my son all included.
Everyone’s faces lit up at the sight of him.
The residents loved talking with him about Christmas and getting their candy cane.
They asked him if he knew what he wanted for Christmas and he was ready and eager to make sure that everyone knew exactly what he was going to ask for (Transformers, in case you were wondering).
It wasn’t a very long visit. Less than 30 minutes probably, so as to not overwhelm him. We took just enough time to see and talk with the residents who wanted to chat with him and then he went on his way.
Easy as that!
If this sounds like something you might like to try, keep in mind…
There should be a small amount of planning done beforehand.
Here are some things to consider:
It’s a good idea to call ahead. Call ahead to ask which day and time would work best, sometimes there are special outings or activities going on at the facility that you may need to plan around.
Ask if there are any units or rooms in particular that you should avoid for one reason or another.
Also, if you plan on bringing some sort of food to pass out, check if there are any allergies that need to be respected.
It’s also a good idea to talk to your kids about what to expect: what kind of environment they’ll be walking into, things that are okay to do and things that aren’t okay.
Let them know why you’re going.
Let them be a part of the whole experience, from planning to execution!
Here are some other ideas that you could do as well:
Pass out plastic treat filled eggs around Easter time.
Color pictures and pass them out.
Bring in flowers on Mother’s Day (or any day)!
Paint little pumpkins around Halloween time to pass out.
Go trick-or-treating (my husband works at a local nursing home and we took both our boys trick-or-treating there this past year. They were the cutest little pirates I’ve ever seen!)
If your kids are older they can just go and play card games or have a conversation. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just reach out in whatever way you feel led to!
Thanks so much for reading! I hope this post encourages you in one way or another. If you are looking for more ways that you can help nurture the minds and hearts of your little ones to be empathetic and selfless towards others, check out my post “15 Random Acts of Kindness to Encourage Selflessness in Kids”
That’s all for now!