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How Volunteering With My Family Made Us Closer

1
Getting my family out of the house and away from their respective electronics has always been a challenge. Trying to plan anything together as a family is still contingent on our busy schedules — if my husband or I aren’t at work, we’re driving one of the kids to a friend’s house or or dance practice or one of a million other things. Like most modern families, we’re almost too busy to spend time together.

That’s why we started volunteering.

Follow along, and I’ll tell you a story — the story of how I managed to get even my broody teenage

SelfishMother.com
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sister to put down her phone and do something good for herself, our family and the community.
Once Upon a Time
We’ll start this tale like any good story should begin — with a Once Upon a Time.

Once upon a time, a mom was at the end of her wits. I wanted to find something for us all to do together as a family, which is difficult when interests don’t align. Someone on social media mentioned volunteering, and something clicked in my brain.

Why not find somewhere for us to volunteer as a family?

I ran the idea by my husband, and it seemed like

SelfishMother.com
3
he loved the idea. OK, I might be exaggerating a little. He grunted what could be translated as a yes in my direction, so I decided to run with it.
Getting Their Interests to Align
The biggest challenge was finding something that all my kids, as well as my teenage siblings, could enjoy doing. The 4-year-old loves building forts, while my 17-year-old brother is obsessed with Fortnite and my 15-year-old sister cares more about makeup and boys, much to my chagrin.

What could we possibly do together that would keep everyone’s interest?

Serve food at

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a soup kitchen? That would be great until the youngest started a food fight or launched a roll at someone’s head.

Rescue baby sea turtles? While that might keep them all entertained, there aren’t many sea turtles in Pennsylvania. Plus, the teenager would probably balk at having to touch them.

One thing my kids and siblings all have in common is a love for animals. In an act of pure kismet, I happened upon an ad in the local paper that was placed by a nearby animal shelter looking for volunteers of all ages to help feed, bathe and play with the

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animals while they waited for their forever homes.

It couldn’t have worked out better.
Volunteering — Day 1
The very next Saturday, I packed my husband, two kids, and two siblings into my van and drove to the shelter. On the way, I told them what I had planned.

When we arrived, the shelter staff took us on a tour through the facility and assigned jobs to each of us. My husband and I got the glamorous job of cleaning out the cages while the animals were elsewhere. The two teens were sent out into the yard with a bag of dog toys and told to have

SelfishMother.com
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fun playing tug-of-war and fetch with the residents.

Our first day volunteering as a family was uneventful, but everyone couldn’t stop talking about it on the drive home. They all asked when we could go back and work with the animals again.

Since then, we’ve gone to the shelter to volunteer at least once a week.!
Lessons Learned
Volunteering at the shelter has become our thing, and has been how we spend our weekends for more than two years. There are so many benefits to volunteering that even I didn’t realize when I signed us up that first

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weekend. We’re closer than ever.

Volunteering at an animal shelter might not be the best choice for your family — especially if you’ve got someone in your group who’s allergic — but that doesn’t mean volunteering isn’t for you. Find something you all enjoy and give it a try. You might be surprised at how much closer you become as a family, just by giving back a little bit.

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- 26 Feb 19

Getting my family out of the house and away from their respective electronics has always been a challenge. Trying to plan anything together as a family is still contingent on our busy schedules — if my husband or I aren’t at work, we’re driving one of the kids to a friend’s house or or dance practice or one of a million other things. Like most modern families, we’re almost too busy to spend time together.

That’s why we started volunteering.

Follow along, and I’ll tell you a story — the story of how I managed to get even my broody teenage sister to put down her phone and do something good for herself, our family and the community.

Once Upon a Time

We’ll start this tale like any good story should begin — with a Once Upon a Time.

Once upon a time, a mom was at the end of her wits. I wanted to find something for us all to do together as a family, which is difficult when interests don’t align. Someone on social media mentioned volunteering, and something clicked in my brain.

Why not find somewhere for us to volunteer as a family?

I ran the idea by my husband, and it seemed like he loved the idea. OK, I might be exaggerating a little. He grunted what could be translated as a yes in my direction, so I decided to run with it.

Getting Their Interests to Align

The biggest challenge was finding something that all my kids, as well as my teenage siblings, could enjoy doing. The 4-year-old loves building forts, while my 17-year-old brother is obsessed with Fortnite and my 15-year-old sister cares more about makeup and boys, much to my chagrin.

What could we possibly do together that would keep everyone’s interest?

Serve food at a soup kitchen? That would be great until the youngest started a food fight or launched a roll at someone’s head.

Rescue baby sea turtles? While that might keep them all entertained, there aren’t many sea turtles in Pennsylvania. Plus, the teenager would probably balk at having to touch them.

One thing my kids and siblings all have in common is a love for animals. In an act of pure kismet, I happened upon an ad in the local paper that was placed by a nearby animal shelter looking for volunteers of all ages to help feed, bathe and play with the animals while they waited for their forever homes.

It couldn’t have worked out better.

Volunteering — Day 1

The very next Saturday, I packed my husband, two kids, and two siblings into my van and drove to the shelter. On the way, I told them what I had planned.

When we arrived, the shelter staff took us on a tour through the facility and assigned jobs to each of us. My husband and I got the glamorous job of cleaning out the cages while the animals were elsewhere. The two teens were sent out into the yard with a bag of dog toys and told to have fun playing tug-of-war and fetch with the residents.

Our first day volunteering as a family was uneventful, but everyone couldn’t stop talking about it on the drive home. They all asked when we could go back and work with the animals again.

Since then, we’ve gone to the shelter to volunteer at least once a week.!

Lessons Learned

Volunteering at the shelter has become our thing, and has been how we spend our weekends for more than two years. There are so many benefits to volunteering that even I didn’t realize when I signed us up that first weekend. We’re closer than ever.

Volunteering at an animal shelter might not be the best choice for your family — especially if you’ve got someone in your group who’s allergic — but that doesn’t mean volunteering isn’t for you. Find something you all enjoy and give it a try. You might be surprised at how much closer you become as a family, just by giving back a little bit.

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