December 21, 2014

Giving Back and Slowing Down

Thanks to Step2 for donating these toys to a worthy cause as part of my Step2 ambassadorship! #PlayItForward

A few months ago I surprised another mom just doing her best every day and shared it on Instagram.  It was a small gesture, but a meaningful one to me in a world where we as moms are often so quick to look for faults and differences rather than common ground.  So when my friends at Step2 offered me the opportunity to spend my last month as a Step2 Ambassador (sadly, we'll age out of the program in 2015) playing it forward by giving some brand new Step2 toys to a person or cause I felt could truly benefit from them I was elated.

Step2 Ambassador, #Playitforward

Then I thought about who would benefit most from a toy donation and very quickly remembered a great local resource.  A child development center that serves low income families, disabled parents, parents who are students and those who are actively job hunting with either free or subsidized childcare.

It's no secret that budget cuts affect public schools.  Kayla's school helps close the gap through a very active PTA and fundraising.  I can't imagine the last few years have been easy on this child development center's budget.  When you're serving families who are just trying to get by or get back on their feet, it's very difficult to ask them to contribute and compensate where a school budget runs short.  I imagine all available funding goes toward employing enough staff and feeding lots of little mouths.

Step2 Ambassador, #Playitforward

While creative play is essential for preschool aged children I'm sure the budget for new toys that encourage imaginative play is practically non-existent in times like these.  Step2 was sweet enough to allow Kayla and I to choose a bunch of toys to gift to this child development center and we decided on the Best Chef's Kitchen, a pair of their Little Helper's Shopping Carts and some play food.

Step2 Ambassador, #Playitforward

Kayla helped me assemble everything so that the teachers could just put it all to use without having to worry about finding time for assembly.  The toys arrived during one of my busiest work weeks of the year and I just wanted to get them put together as quickly as possible.  If I'm being honest, she was minimally helpful and nearly lost some of the screws we needed.  However, I knew that for the message of what we were doing to resonate with her at all, it was crucial to let her participate as much as possible. 

Step2 Ambassador, #Playitforward

It served as a good reminder to me during a very stressful time of year to slow down, or even freeze.  Take a deep breath and remember that doing things quickly isn't the most important thing.  It's doing them in a way that has meaning.  While I'll probably still be stressed by all there is to do in the next few days, I'm going to do my best not to rush through them and to try to soak in the experience rather than running through a checklist performing tasks just to get to the next task. Letting Kayla screw a screw (that wasn't going anywhere) for three minutes gave her a real connection to the project and a sense of ownership.  

So thank you to my friends at Step2 this holiday season.  Not only for helping me give back to a community resource that can use a little help, but also for a moment of reflection and realization.  It's been a great 2014 and I'm so excited to see what 2015 will bring!
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