I am not so intense on simplifying because I want to sit around and do nothing (well, not all the time.)
I think simplifying is so important, because it gives us the time and energy to do important things for you and your community. Like mentor a child. I wrote about the profound need for kindness and one way to prevent violence and school drop-outs is to mentor kids.
So many children fall through the cracks. They feel they have no one that will truly listen to them without spouting advice. They may feel alone or scared. Mentoring has shown to be one of the top ways impact children. They are more likely to finish school, stay away from gangs and drugs, be respectful and are better at coping with adversity. You can find other benefits of mentoring on kids here.
A mentor provides guidance, support and encouragement to help youth academically, socially and/or personally. You don’t need special skills. You are building a positive relationship through consistency, listening, asking questions, being a sounding board, acknowledging their accomplishments and providing ways of seeing things from a different point of you. You can show a child they are valued.
I’ve been involved in the Kid’s Hope program that connects churches with schools. There is one mentor per child and we meet weekly for an hour – talking, working with school work and having fun. This is for elementary age, but you can ask local youth centers about volunteering. We have a wonderful one called the Bridge in our community.
You can search for a mentoring opportunity in your area here.
But, you don’t need a program to mentor a kid. Perhaps one of your kid’s friends look like they need to talk to someone. It’s often easier to talk to an adult that is not related to you. Or you can develop a relationship with a particular youth at church where you check in with them weekly to see how they are. Maybe in your kid’s class there is a shy girl that keeps to herself. When you are helping out in the classroom you can make sure to speak with her and seek her out.
We can change our communities one child at a time.
As I was writing this, I found out January is National Mentoring Month! They say, “Spending one hour each week– whether it’s helping with homework, playing games or just hanging out – helps a young person know he matters. Be Someone Who Matters to Someone Who Matters.”
What can you simplify in your life so you have an hour a week to do something with a great impact? For you it may not be being a mentor. But, find that hour to make a difference in your world.