Our roadschooling adventures have begun, and one of the things that has really stood out to me is how grateful I am for my girls’ natural propensity to give back – to others, to nature, and animals. I’ve been raising little activists, and it’s been wonderful to see them take initiative to make the world a better place.
Little Ways To Give Back:
I ordered a little kids’ book a while back called “Have You Filled A Bucket Today”. The girls really grasped the concept and it was a great way to help them see how to give more to others. The gist of the book is that you want to fill people’s buckets with love and kindness – and in turn, yours fills up as well. When you empty someone else’s bucket, it doesn’t makes yours more full, but is a lose-lose situation. So it helps kids see how they can give love and serve others and how everyone benefits. We’ve been pumping this concept into our kids – not just about filling human buckets, but how we can fill the bucket for Mother Earth and all her inhabitants.
For example, Clara (age 9) noticed all the remains of Halloween festivities on the ground at our new campsite. Next thing I see is her walking through the campgrounds with a plastic bag, picking up all the litter on the ground. (She also decided to save the insects by putting paper down on all our sticky traps inside the camper…A+ for ingenuity and bug activism, not quite as appreciated, though).
Ellie (age 7) makes it a point to make friends wherever we go. She has no boundaries on age, but loves talking to people and accomplishing her secret mission – to make them smile.
Juliet (age 4) took what we learned on our nature tour to heart yesterday and gave us all a lecture on not leaving food out for animals to eat. “You can’t leave da food out or da bears will eat it, and dat’s not good for dem!”
So – here are a few easy tips to give back in many ways – what can you as a family do every day to “fill a bucket?”
For Mother Earth:
- Bring a bag along and collect litter when you are out on a hike
- Compost – it’s amazing how this little thing makes you more aware of what waste is left over, and what you choose to eat that isn’t compostable. With our mainly vegan diet, there isn’t much we eat that the chickens can’t devour after us!
- Don’t damage plants, and give a tree a hug now and then (yes, we’re literally tree huggers).
- Plant trees – you can get small trees through the Audubon Society and many other organizations. Get involved in brush cleanup and other ways to preserve nature.
- Get your hands dirty – experience what it’s like to dig your hands in soil, marvel at beautiful rocks, and play in the mud.
- Ground yourself. Take your shoes off and fill the earth below you. This is your own personal bucket-filler.
- On that note, go out into the woods and sit in silence. Just five minutes of quiet allows you to hear – and experience – so much more connection, with yourself and with nature.
- Don’t feed wildlife or take them in – observe, appreciate, and release. Especially where we are, traveling state and national parks, this is a huge no-no, as feeding the wildlife causes so many unnecessary issues where they end up relying on human food – which in turn can make them dangerous, or cripple them when there are no humans around to provide for them!
- Donate old towels, sheets, etc to your local animal shelter or wildlife agency.
- Volunteer your time to a shelter and show some animals some love.
- Walk dogs in your neighborhood, or organize a “dog wash” instead of a car wash – proceeds can go back to shelters!
- Think about what you can sell where a portion of the proceeds can go to your favorite organization or charity. Clara is taking $2 from every “What If It Were Possible” book she sells and giving that back to shelters we find along our travels. (We currently have 12 towels and $342 to donate to a shelter)!
- If you have pets, pay attention to them. The number of dogs thrown in back yards with only food and water as “friends” is sad. In the South especially, there is a big issue with abandoned animals, as they are seen as simply a fun thing for the moment and then discarded if they are a nuisance at all. Weigh the options seriously when taking in an animal, and consider them a part of your family.
- Smiles are free, and oftentimes contagious. Don’t hold back.
- Never ever assume you know what is going on in another’s life – that mama giving a cookie to her tantrum throwing child may be at her whits end with an autistic kid, or just lost their father. The sour man at the grocery store may be living in chronic pain and can’t see beyond his own agony. You don’t know the story, and fighting back with your own irritation just breeds more negativity (this is something I have to really work on personally).
- It’s okay to get involved. It’s okay to lend a hand. Yes, be safe – but being safe doesn’t mean you have to turn a blind eye to struggles in this world. Open the door for someone. Make eye contact with a homeless person and show some love, even if you don’t give them money.
- Create your own toiletry kits – you can stock up on small essentials at the Dollar Store – toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, soap, q-tips, etc – put them in plastic baggies and keep them in your car. When you see homeless people, give them a baggy. If you want, you can throw in some money or non-perishable food as well.
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen as a family, or lay out beds for homeless.
- Get involved in a Big Brother/Big Sister program or another organization that gives back.
These are but a few ways we can all do our part to spread the love and give back.
What are some other ways you and your family have “filled buckets”?