I write this post with all sincerity, from the bottom of my heart, from a place of experience. With the school year starting and new activities beginning it is easy (as a mom) to get caught up in the "volunteer list". Do you remember the Brady Bunch episode with Marsha signs up for too many clubs? She finds herself stressed out, overwhelmed, and not able to give her best. We, as moms, have a way of doing this when it comes to our children.
I remember I couldn't wait when my son to became old enough for activities. It was as if the race was on. This momma was out of the gate with a full speed start. The thing about going full speed is you tend to run out of steam quickly. I signed up to volunteer with every activity, club, committee I could find. I wanted to be "that mom". The mom that was involved in all aspects of all extra events. I wanted to be on executive boards and chair various committees. The problem was I became Marsha Brady. All too soon I was stressed out, overwhelmed, and not able to give my best.
Have you ever felt like you couldn't spend quality time with your family because you were running around like a crazy woman organizing meetings, events, banquets, etc. for your children's various activities? Don't get me wrong, I think all parents should volunteer in some capacity. And unfortunately, it is usually 20% who do 80% of the work. However, we have to keep a clear perspective as to what is a healthy amount of volunteering.
Last year, I decided to have a little intervention with myself. I took a long hard look at our family calendar and really asked myself some hard questions. The main question, and I will admit it hurt was...
Am I volunteering because I truly have a love for that position/job or am I volunteering because I want everyone else to witness it?
Does that make sense? I was caught up in the pride of feeling like everyone was counting on me. I enjoyed being part of the inside circle. I liked the feeling of being reliable. But here lies the problem, I was reliable for all the countless activities, committees, and meetings. I was not being reliable for my family. On top of it I would complain to my husband or snap at my kids because I was stretching myself to thin. Ummm, who signed up for these positions in the first place???
Here is the next question...
Is it really beneficial to my child if all of this volunteering is keeping me from spending real quality time with my family?
That is a tough one. It was especially tough when I finally admitted the answer to myself. Also, it took me awhile to really feel comfortable with the answer.
I decided it was time to drop a few things and re prioritize. Most likely, I will always volunteer but not to the same extent. I have learned it is okay to just be on the committee, not lead the committee.
If you are a newer parent to the whole volunteer world, I encourage you to sign up and support the activities your child attends. But do not feel pressured or ride the guilt train that you have to be involved in all parts. Remember, you best memories are going to come from the quiet moments when you get to sit back and just watch your child.
As I write this I feel this goes for any type of volunteering, not just specific to your children. Being involved is wonderful and very rewarding but when it causes stress and missed time with your family something has to give.