Sunday, September 23, 2012

Our First Service Adventure

I love volunteering. It makes me incredibly happy. I love the feeling of helping. All that said, in the past few years I haven't made much time to do it. I think of ideas and don't follow through.

Well, now that I have a child, I want to set an example for her. I also am finding that I am not whole without volunteering and service in my life. So I took my daughter with me to volunteer with our community and the Nashville Day of Service which is sponsored by Hands on Nashville.

I live in the Donelson area of Nashville. This area is coming to life. There has been this huge movement toward community and helping one another. This is a whole other post for later on.

Our community adopted one of the local middle schools which is right when you come into the area. We planted plants and flowers at the driving entrance and exit and the front doors of the school. This might not seem like a big deal for those of you who do not enjoy flowers and plants. But stop and think about when you see a beautiful flower, doesn't that make you smile?

I figured this would be a good first step volunteer project for a 19 month old. It involves digging and dirt which happen to be two really fun things for toddlers.

We arrived and they were removing sod and prepping the areas. Our sweet girl only had to be shown one time. I walked over with her and said, "Help mommy pick up this dirt and put it in the wagon." She bent down, picked up dirt, walked it over, dumped it, and came back. It was so stinkin' cute!! Now granted, a toddler handful of dirt might not be that much but to me it was huge! She was so happy doing it.

We also got to plant a flower together. She helped me pack the dirt in and then we found a worm! If you know me, you know that I am incredibly scared of worms. But thanks to all the children's shows we watch, in particular Wild Kratts, I now understand that worms are good and help plants grow. I also couldn't very well run screaming in front of a group of strangers, not to mention my 19 month old. If mommy is scared of them then she might be too. So I took a deep breath and picked the worm up and showed it to her. She thought it was cool for .2 seconds then threw it down and started playing with the dirt again, which I was happy about.

If you are interested in volunteering with a toddler for a gardening project, here are my tips:

  1. Check with the group first. Some people are extremely serious about their plants and only want the best. This group was laid back and let us help when we could.
  2. Bring water. Toddlers will eat dirt. Rinse and repeat throughout the day.
  3. Where gloves so if your toddler gets something in their eye or mouth, mommy has clean hands to get it out with.
  4. Bring a snack. Gardening can be hard work, especially for a toddler.
  5. Think about your clothes. You will both be covered in dirt. And you will both be squatting and bending repeatedly. Also, dress in layers as mornings are cooler and then the sun comes out.
  6. Bring a plastic bucket and shovel like you use at the beach. Or a dump truck. I wish I would have thought of this before getting there. It makes it easier for then to help with pick up. 
  7. Cheer little one along. Even just picking up a twig is a huge help.
  8. Explain what you are doing with your little one. Get them to smell the flower or pack the dirt.
  9. Be flexible. You won't be the one planting the most flowers or digging the most holes. You will most likely spend the majority of your time chasing or reorienting your little one. 
  10. HAVE FUN!! 

When was the first time you volunteered with your child and what did you do?

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