Volunteering With Your Toddler – Parenting

Volunteering with a toddler
By Contributor Allison Baltzersen

Cleaning a beach – well, cleaning anything for that matter – with a toddler is a challenge second only to defusing a bomb in a chimpanzee pen.  But it is possible, if you factor in extra time, use a bit of creativity, and carry a big stick.

Saturday, September 21st was International Coastal Cleanup Day sponsored by the Ocean Conservancy. Since we currently live by a coast, I felt compelled to do my part and clean up a bit of beach near our house.  I wondered if my two year old could benefit from “helping” me clean, so I grabbed an extra set of gloves and brought her with me.

I quickly learned that she was incapable of actually picking up small bits with her ginormous gloves, but that she could wield a stick and was interested in helping.  So I handed her a stick we found in the bushes and let her point at litter for me to pick up.  How did she know what was litter, you ask?  Well, she didn’t on her own.  So we played a game using colors and descriptors, Point to something blue and sparkly! or I see a yucky bag! Can you see it?

While we spent plenty of time talking about what doesn’t belong on  a beach, we also spent a few minutes enjoying all that does – a baby crab, a broken shell and what we both agreed was a “crawly worm” (seriously, I have no idea what it was – some kind of tropical caterpillar?)

Was this process fast? ABSOLUTELY NOT. It took us forever to fill half a bag.  But I don’t care.  It was a wonderful bonding and learning experience for us both and we plan to do other volunteer projects like this again.

Has your toddler ever participated in a volunteer project like a beach clean-up? Dare I ask how it went?     

Allison Baltzersen is a mother of two baby girls and blogs about her bumblings through green parenting over at Funny Shade of Green.

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Angela V

Founder and Writer at One Smiley Monkey blog
Hi, my name is Angela van Tijn and I live in Vancouver, Canada with my wonderful husband, our two boys and our puppy. I am the founder and primary contributor behind One Smiley Monkey. Welcome to my blog!

12 responses to “Volunteering With Your Toddler – Parenting”

  1. Not yet but I would love to volunteer with my DD. Great learning lesson!

  2. I love the bonding and learning experience, thanks for sharing!

  3. Which beach is that? It looks familiar!
    I agree, doing something like that with your child strengthens your bond and its a wonderful learning opportunity. Good for you!

  4. This is a nice way to take part in environmental causes and make our kids aware !

  5. I think you did better with your 2 year old daughter than I would with my adult son! LOL! Seriously, way to go mom! I think that this is a great way to start your daughter off on the road to taking care of her little piece of the earth!

  6. cute photo. I would love to volunteer when my daughter eats a little older

  7. Well done. You are teaching your wee one early not only that she is capable, but that she plays a role in her community. Awesome!

  8. my daughter is almost 2 so she hasnt done much yet, but i can’t wait till she does take on things like this….

  9. We volunteer as a family and help clean our beach yearly, it’s important for children to grow up ‘giving back & lending a helping hand”.

  10. I probably did with one or more of my five now adult children. I agree with Allison that this sort of ‘volunteering’ involves time, patience and love. The rewards of this type of bonding and the opportunity of some ‘teaching'(age appropriate) are priceless.

  11. Thats a great way make our kids aware and to want to help,its great that you are teaching her young

  12. Thats a nice way to take part in environmental cause,children love to be included.

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