Back in early September, I loaded up my six-year-old and headed down the street to my polling place. Although I had registered to vote absentee in the general election, I felt that the September primary, with its low voter turnout, would be a good opportunity for my daughter to safely see the election process in person.
Together, we marked our preferred candidates, taking every opportunity we could to vote for women. “Why are there no girls running for president?” my daughter asked, and I told her that it was my hope and belief that by the time she was voting there would be even more women on the ballot.
For many family on both sides of the political aisle, it’s important to keep kids engaged with the electoral process.
“I remember going to the polls with my parents when I was a kid, and I think it’s one reason why I am interested in politics today,” says Erin Heger, of Kansas, who usually brings her kids with her to vote. “Even if my kids don’t grow up to have the same interest in government as I do, I want them to see their parents participate and model for them what it means to contribute to our community and make our voices heard.”
This year, with more Americans than ever expected to vote by mail, it can take come ingenuity to keep kids engaged with the election. My daughter certainly wasn’t as interested in dropping our absentee ballot into the mail as she was in seeing me vote in person. So, we’re opting to make some election-night cookies while we wait for results, which will keep her interested and me from being glued to my phone.
Here, 4 moms share how they’re keeping kids engaged with the election this year.
Helping Get Out The Vote
Allison Rogers Furbish, of New Hampshire, typically brings her kids to the polling place, but this year she’s keeping them engaged from home. She helped write letters to voters through Vote Forward, while her kids, 10 and 5, helped address and stamp the envelops.
“They were really into it, and it felt good to show them how strongly I feel about the importance of voting and participation,” Rogers Furbish says.
A Little Enticement
Sarah Shemkus, of Massachusetts, usually entices her daughter to come with to vote by stopping by the bake sale after casting their ballots. This year there will be fewer bake sales happening, so Shemkus turned to t-shirts to keep her daughter engaged.
“Hers says ‘Future Voter’ and mine says ‘You’ve gotta vote,’” Shemkus says.
Challenging Kids To Think For Themselves
Kristin Burroughs, of New Hampshire, is always surprised at how much political talk her second-grader picks up at school. This year, she encourages her daughter to think for herself.
“She comes home with her own idea of people, and will comment that she likes or dislikes certain politicians,” Burroughs says. “I always try to push her to tell me why she feels that way. I want her to have her own ideas and do what I can to foster that.”
For Burroughs, that includes taking her daughter to the polls even during the pandemic.
A Little Lollipop Help
Chaunie Brusie, Truly Mama editor and mom of five, makes it a point to take her kids — yes, all of them — to the polls. To get a few minutes of quiet, she relies on lollipops for the kids, and takeout (read: McDonalds) to give mama a break.
“Taking four kids under six to the polls is no small feat,” Brusie said of voting in 2016. “I’m curious how other moms plan and manage.”
So mama, tell us! Head to the Truly Mama Facebook page to share your tips, and a picture of you and your future voters on election day.
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