How I'm helping my kids make sense of the bushfire devastation

Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock 

It's impossible to shield your kids from the fire emergency ravaging our country. For many children they're even in the thick of it – they know too well the fear of fleeing a fire.

For many others, while the fire risk hasn't been immediate, they've lived in smoky conditions for months. 

We've had many days the sky has been blanketed in thick smoke from fires in the Adelaide Hills and Kangaroo Island. It's impossible to hide from our kids what's going on and we wouldn't ever think to shield them from the reality facing so many in this country. 

But it can be scary and confronting for many children as the devastation is so heartbreaking and far-reaching.

Even I've reached a point that I need to look away from social media and turn off the nightly news sometimes to take a break from the sad reality. And don't get me wrong, I'm acutely aware of how lucky I am to have the choice to switch off, many do not have that choice.

To try and make sense of what's going on, I've made the decision to start focusing on the helpers. It's important my children know that everyday people can make a real difference – that there is good in the world.

I've started telling my kids about the people who are doing all they can to help other people, and animals, during this scary time. I'm trying to show them that at times of crises there are amazing people in this world who step-up and provide comfort. They are the helpers.

The most obvious being all the volunteer fire fighters putting their lives on the line. As a family, we've donated to our local firefighters and when we see them in the street we stop to thank them. Joining them are the ADF, police and health professionals also helping local communities.

Other helpers include people like comedian Celeste Barber – who at the time of me writing this story had raised close to $50 million for bushfire victims. And other celebrities who have made huge cash donations, like singer Pink and actor Chris Hemsworth.

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Then there's all the unsung heroes arranging local donation drives, kids setting up lemonade stands, people making sandwiches and distributing water. Teams of volunteers sorting out donated items and taking them to pick-up points. People opening up their homes, supplying free hay, driving tractors and cafes giving out free food. 

Not to forget wildlife warriors like the team at Australia Zoo, Adelaide Koala Rescue volunteers and all the other beautiful wildlife rescue volunteers all over this country stepping up to help nurse animals back to health. Or the crafters making special animal booties and sacks for baby animals.

Then there's the artists and writers hosting auctions of their work and comedians and musicians putting on charity gigs. All of it is making a difference. There are so many people who are doing good.

I want my kids to know that anyone can be a helper, whether it's making a cash donation, buying from a local producer through the Instagram page Spend with Them or helping in your community. Perhaps it's reducing your environmental impact, protesting or writing to your local member for real action on climate change.

Or it could even be as simple as just giving someone a hug. 

Talking to my kids about all the amazing people stepping-up to help others is teaching them that in times of crises to always look for the helpers. That even in our darkest moments there is hope and kindness.