Making time to mentor

It only takes 1-2 hours a week to make a difference in the life of a child as mentor. How can you find the time in your busy schedule to take on this important role?

Young people need mentors in their life. Most adults understand the power of mentoring because they can think back and recognize mentors who made a difference in their own life. So, if most people think mentors are important, why don’t more people choose to volunteer as a mentor?

The barrier for many people is a lack of time. Our schedules are packed and we are exhausted. Still, with a little work, you can fit in time to mentor and do something good for yourself at the same time. Here are some ideas from Michigan State University Extension:

  1. Community-based mentoring allows you to mentor on your own schedule. Chances are, you can do whatever you are already doing with your time and just include a young person once a week. You can work out together, take a walk, watch a sporting event, share a hobby or craft, go to a coffee shop or even run some errands. If that doesn’t work, we all need to eat—so why not share a meal with a mentee once a week?
  2. Site-based mentoring often occurs at the end of the school day. This can be challenging for those who work during this time. Did you know that many employers will consider paid work release for volunteering? Research shows that employees who are allowed to volunteer are more productive and more likely to feel connected to the business. Talk to your boss and see if this is a possibility for you. Programs like 4-H Tech Wizards look for volunteers from STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields to mentor the next generation of scientists—and employees. Your employer might see the benefit of investing in youth who might be future employees
  3. Step away from the screens! Some of us spend a lot of time on phones, tablets, computers and televisions. Couldn’t a few hours of this time be better spent doing something that you enjoy with a young person?
  4. If you just can’t break away from the screen, consider e-mentoring. Online mentoring is a great fit for many people and it takes a little less time. There are many great programs – a quick internet search will help you find one that is right for you.
  5. Is there something you love to do that you don’t make time for? Mentoring is a great way to ensure you make the time since another person is counting on you. Popular activities include fishing, knitting, playing basketball, attending area festivals, scrapbooking, cooking and photography. Young people benefit from experiencing healthy hobbies.

There are some time barriers that are just too large to tackle but for many, mentoring is something that can fit into a busy schedule. As an added benefit, volunteering is healthy and can help you live longer. For this and many other reasons, mentoring changes two lives- yours and the young person. To find a program near you, go to MENTOR and enter your zip code.

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