In dark times, our instinct is always to ‘look for the helpers’ (Fred Rogers). An even stronger instinct, is to actually BE a helper. Personally, this is frustrating me right now as we have been told to do the opposite in many ways. We have been told to take our children and stay at home and do nothing, for our safety and that of others. And yet my heart yearns to the doctors, nurses, cleaners, supermarket stockers and sellers who are on the front line, so to speak. I have no such qualifications, and even if I did, what would I do with my kids?
So that got me thinking… what exactly CAN I do with my kids? I asked them too and together, we came up with quite a few ideas, so I thought I would share these, in case it is helpful to anyone else:
- DO stay at home:
Time and time again, we have been told to do this. While we may remain asymptomatic or suffer only mildly, we can still carry it to others who are more vulnerable and this may only have an effect weeks after. So cancel your play dates, don’t be tempted to ‘make the most’ of this time off, and Stay. At. Home.
We all know the power of dua, and dua done by innocent hearts will Inshallah be heard and answered quickly! Age dependent, you can ask your children to recite 5 salawats, pray and extra 2 rakat salaat for hajaat, recite a tasbeeh of Ammayujeebul, or the short dua no 7 in Saheefe Sajjadiya (When Misfortune Descended and at the Time of Distress). Find something that works for you and your family and do it daily, Inshallah.
- Give charity:
Many of us are supremely fortunate in where we live, the resources we have to stay occupied, and the healthcare system around us. There are millions of others – refugees, those in countries of povery, poor healthcare systems, war-torn countries – who do not have this soft landing to rely on. Many charities are now collecting to help support such people – discuss this with your children (age dependent), and encourage them to give from their own money that they may have. It does not have to be much, but every little helps.
Here are two reputable charities raising for this cause:
- Paint something heartwarming and place it on your window/outside:
Many reports from Italy have emerged of people painting these rainbows with the words “Everything will be all right” and then hanging these off balconies and windows. Such a wonderful way to lift the spirits of those who still have to be outside and out and about!
And how about painting inspirational messages on rocks and leaving them outside for people to find?
(Rocks painted by Sarah Rosser – FB)
Or draw fun, inspirational messages on the pavement?
- Reach out to your neighbours:
Many of us aren’t able to travel far to help people, but what about those in our locality? We may know our neighbours and have a WhatsApp group with them (and if we don’t, then what better time to make one?!), and so we can ask if any on there need any food/groceries, etc.
Becky Wass created this form to hand out to neighbours around her, offering help where needed. These cards can be a good way of getting some exercise in with the kids, and you can select what you can offer in terms of help to make it manageable. Here is the printable pdf: bit.ly/viralkindness
- Uplift and interact with people around you – from a distance:
Although we may have to stay within our own spaces, there are many ways to interact with others around us. There have been numerous uplifting examples of neighbours in Italy and Spain (who are in lockdown) singing and playing music together from their balconies, doing exercise together and even playing tennis from windows! Necessity is the mother of invention – plant the idea in your children and see what emerges?!
- Send care packages to hospitals:
A nurse friend suggested this, saying how overwhelmed, overworked and underappreciated they often felt, and how they would love to receive some support. So get baking with your kids (healthy yummy treats would be very appreciated I’m sure!), and drop them off to a hospital with some home-made cards (maybe with some poems that the children have written?) and let’s try and send them love and support in this way!
- Donate to food banks:
With most religious organisations turning to live streaming, many of the popular sources of food donations to food banks have therefore been shut. One of our neighbours offered to collect food bank items from our street and go once a week to donate them to a food bank, and I thought it was such a lovely idea! So why not have a basket of donations that kids gather over the week, which you can then drop off?
- Send cards to elderly:
As we all know, the group most vulnerable are the elderly. This means that visits to them – whether in their homes or in nursing homes – have been cut dramatically, probably adding more loneliness to their lives. One of the things we could do to help them know they are not alone and they are being thought of, is to send them cards.
Children can make and decorate these cards, write messages inside,, and then these can either be posted or popped into their letter boxes. Imagine their surprise at receiving these hand-made messages!
- Facetime family and friends:
With the elderly that you know amongst family and friends, a great way to cheer spirits is to call regularly. I loved this idea of playing games with them online too – although there are plenty of online games to play together (like Psych), who’s to say you can’t play the traditional games like Scrabble?!
(Jennifer Williams Barnes – FB)
On a similar vein, check out this program to link the elderly with children to create lifelong friendships? Love the initiative – they are looking for both child volunteers (over 7) as well as elderly people who would love some company. Sign up on www.umojaoutreach.org/care