You could be the listening ear a child needs.

 

You only need to think back to how books enriched your young life to get an inkling of what a little of your time could do for some children today.

Recent reports suggest many children who lacked an ability to read in their early years end up struggling to keep up with peers in the years that follow. Many just needed someone to listen to them read.

And that’s your opportunity, fuelled by your own delight in the books that shaped your own young live.

Perhaps, as a child, the books that fired your imagination were those like The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis or Stig of the Dump by Clive King.

I know this was true for me – a delight to read and, unbeknown to me, they began to shape my values and were even an early signposts in my search for faith. Not bad for children’s books.

It was Clive King’s his own childhood that inspired him to write Stig of the Dump in 1963. If you are a Baby Boomer like me, you probably remember it’s the story of a boy who falls into a chalk pit at the bottom of his grandparent’s garden and discovers a new friend from the Stone Age.

It’s a reminder of the adventures children used to have, imagined or otherwise, when allowed to roam free in the countryside, discovering bits of ‘this and that’, which could be turned into something enhancing whatever game was being played. I now live in a village but have never seen children playing in the countryside. What’s happened? Have they lost the freedom we once enjoyed?

Imaginations however still need feeding and encouraging. CS Lewis recalls how a miniature garden made by his brother on top of an old biscuit tin evoked an early image of paradise, and how the talking animal stories they invented in the attic at their childhood home became the basis of the Narnia adventures he wrote in later life.

There may not be a children’s book in you waiting to be written, though you never know until you try, but you could be a listening ear to children who need their imaginations stirring.

Could you give the vital gift of being a listening ear to a child – as a number of actively-retired people from my own church are doing and finding it very rewarding? If so, here are the easy steps to take –

  1. Contact the Head Teacher at your local primary school. This could be done through the local church minister or pastor if a few of you are going in, which helps build stronger links with local schools, but it is not essential.
  2. Offer an hour a week, or more if able, to listen to children read.
  3. Go along a meet the Head and find out how to proceed
  4. They should need a Safeguarding Check (DBS) which they can organise.
  5. They will have their own books, but you can offer to take or donate books, though please do check with the school if it is ok with them.

Reading changed my life, and it’s never too late to be an agent of change for someone else.

Chris Harrington

Rev Captain Chris Harrington is a Church Army officer and Rector of Heckington and Helpringham Group of Parishes. He has a special interest in reaching the retired and active generation and author of the Grove Booklet Reaching the Saga Generation.

Recently retired? 5 Smart ways to be wise with your time

 

Do you ever find yourself saying, ‘Now I’m retired I’m busier than ever’?’ If so, perhaps you could do with some help to make the most of your after-work life.

Here are five simple and smart suggestions on how to be wise with your time.

1. Start right – or retrace your steps if you need to

Managing transitions – like moving away from full time work – are rarely straightforward. That’s what Michael Watson says in his book ‘Your First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter.’

In it, Michael stresses how important it is to nail down your expectations, goals and dreams as soon as you can. And he recommends some kind of timetable as to when you hope to see them happen. Its all too easy for your time to just be taken over with other people’s expectations.

2. Decide what’s most important

Be specific on your priorities. For example –

  • Nurturing your relationships
  • Keeping healthy and fit
  • Financial security
  • Fun
  • Helping others
  • Starting something new or rekindling an old hobby

If you are stuck for inspiration, there’s lots of suggestions for you on our New challenges webpage.

3. Create habits that’ll result in these things actually happening

Moving from one way of life to another calls for working out some new routines to replace the old. Perhaps things like –

  • Adding regular dates to your diary to spend with your partner and planning time with friends
  • Starting a realistic regular exercise plan
  • Keeping track of money and working out your budget
  • Having an adventure once a week
  • Committing yourself to activities at your church or some local volunteering opportunity
  • Joining a choir, signing up to a course, learning a language…

If that might mean doing something fulfilling as a volunteer check out the AfterWorkNet webpage on Serving.

4. Manage your time rather than letting your time manage you

If time management is second nature to you then skip this one. But if you are like most of us it is worth heeding the wisdom of the ‘retirement analysist; Bob Lowry.

Bob tells how he first started his retirement by making extensive ‘to do’ lists. He’d programme 15-30-minute time blocks for various tasks and activities, including his afternoon nap. But the pressure to deliver on his made-up schedule was too much and was he found he was doing most of it just to tick it off the list!

When he tried the opposite – just going with the flow and planning nothing – there was no structure and he didn’t know what to do.

Finally, Bob found a happy medium, using schedules and lists when that helped but feeling free to change his plans – because now his time was his own.

5. Keep things under review

Consider putting a time limit both on those things other people ask you to commit to and the ones you decide yourself to give a go.

Situations change. You may find you don’t like what you’ve got into. You may prefer to do something else with your time. There could be new responsibilities, health challenges and opportunities that face you.

That’s why agreeing on a specific date to review the situation when making a commitment is a wise move.

And think about a personal six-month review of how your time is being spent – maybe with the input from someone close to you.

 

Celia Bowring

Celia isn’t retired yet – although she’s recently changed from being office-based to working from home, so working out her own use of time. Celia writes the CARE Prayer Diary along with many other resources. She also chairs Pray for Schools. And loves being a hands-on grandmother!

The word retirement is not even in the Bible. What is taught in scripture is transition. There is nothing that says you work most of your life and then get to be selfish for the next 20 years

Rick Warren, PurposeDrivenLife