Chirped by Tina
Ah, free time… It can be a blessing – or a curse. That dreaded weekly meeting that got cancelled on an already over-scheduled day? Woohoo! Jackpot! But that hour frittered away perusing clickbait about Spite Houses and 50 Things to Throw Away Right Now? Mostly guilt and self-loathing because you should have been working on your blog post – er, wait, maybe that’s just me… The point is, if you find yourself with more free time than you actually feel good about, no matter what life or schedule change it might have hatched from, find something useful and satisfying to do with it. That can make all the difference in how you feel about yourself at the end of the day, whether it’s getting outside for a quick walk or committing to helping out regularly at your favorite non-profit.
This leads me to my current quest for fun things to volunteer for. If you checked out Cass’s post on Hosting a Vision Board Party, you saw my completed board in the photos at the end. I hand-wrote my inspirations for 2018 on a chalkboard, and the very first personal goal I blocked in was Share Your Gifts, front and center. As a stay-at-home-mom, I volunteered a lot for my boys’ schools and assorted activities. Now that they’ve left the nest, it’s important to me to identify new venues where my skills could add some value. What to do? I started compiling a list of local organizations that could probably use some help, next to how they might naturally align with my interests. Some would require background checks, but as I learned from past experience, costs are usually waived for volunteers. Others probably require some training, so I’d want to test the waters first to see how I liked the atmosphere before I wasted anyone’s time, including my own.
- Elementary schools – math or reading tutor? After-school program helper?
- Retirement communities – scrapbooking, photo organizing or ancestry events?
- Animal shelters – socializing or walking furry residents? Making cat/dog mats?
- Hospital nurseries – do they really need volunteers to rock colicky babies?
- Charitable thrift stores – sorting and organizing (I’m much better at that with other people’s stuff than with my own!)
- Ten Thousand Villages shops – staffed almost entirely by volunteers, and supporting third world artisans by paying living wages for their crafts. How awesome!
- FMSC Mobile Packs – packing nutritious meals for children in need around the world, which I’d done for an afternoon with my husband and a bunch of his coworkers.
Just as I was getting ready to start putting out some feelers, my perfect match happened along! A friend invited me to attend a community craft session to help out with a “Yarn Bloom” happening in a nearby town. It’s like a Yarn Bomb, but without the negative associations. And if that doesn’t help you, check out my next post about it!
Think about things you love to do, things you’re interested in, or causes you might like to champion. If you’re into history, you could look into becoming a docent for a favorite local museum or historical site. If you like to cook, maybe a local soup kitchen would be just the thing. There is probably a non-profit organization out there that could use a hand and can’t necessarily afford to pay for it. Share your gifts for the benefit of a cause you’re passionate about, and stand in for all the folks that would like to help, but don’t have the time or resources to do so.
Make a difference where you can, however big or small! It can definitely help with any “post-nestal depression”* you might be experiencing without your chicks fluttering around.
*Not my words, credit where credit’s due, we saw it on another empty nester’s blog during our research phase, and loved it! Letting Go As a Parent