Why Your Kids Should Be Staying Bothered This Summer!

Staying Bothered and Volunteering With Kids This Summer

By Clara Bradbury

School has finished up for the year, and while some families have their calendars neatly planned with camps and vacations until the first day of next school year, if you’re like me you still have some (or many!) blank days to fill and are looking for ideas on how to spend them. Whether you need some activities to do with your kids so they don’t end up in the screens-all-day black hole, or you’re just looking for ways to enrich their summer while having fun, all you need to do is ask your kids one simple question that can open up a slew of creative activities all while adding growth, empathy, and a real sense of accomplishment. That question is:

What bothers you?

Let them know you’re not talking about little bothers, like not getting to stay up late or being last in line for their favorite treat, but big ones: homelessness, hunger, bullying, the environment. Ask your kids this single question and see what they say—you might be surprised at the conversation it sparks.

Now comes the fun part: Make a list of the things they come up with, then decide together to do something about it. I will be the first to admit that when I think of something to do with my kids on a summer’s day, the first “activity” that pops into my mind is usually ice cream. But when I started challenging myself to think beyond that delicious treat and consider doing something to make a difference, I opened a world of incredible (and fun!) opportunities.

You may think your kids won’t be into volunteering—I worried about the same thing—but you’ll be amazed at how into it they get. Some of the activities my kids have done about what bothers them: care packs for foster kids; cleaning up trash at the creek; and giving canned goods to a local food pantry. Even if they balk at the idea of shutting the TV off to take time to do one of these things, it turns out that old saying really is true: it feels good to do good. And there are plenty of different ways to get involved, large and small. If you need ideas, stayingbothered.com is a great place to start.

So the next time you’re about to suggest ice cream or an outing, think about what bothers your kids first and see if there’s something you can do about it. Your kids will see that if we find what bothers us and stay committed, we’ll change the world together.