Have you ever noticed that homeschooling moms seem to volunteers in various activities also? It almost seems like there’s something inbred in us that drives us to sign up for more and more things, no matter how busy we are. We must be involved in every aspect of our family’s life.
Ever since I got laid off and decided to stop looking for full time work, I have taken on a multitude of volunteer activities – sometimes to my own downfall. What first started out as a way to keep my resume updated and my brain working turned into a deep seated passion to help those around me. Hubby and Care Bear have at times felt at odds with my responsibilities elsewhere and my attention to them in our home. Who does it benefit?
Volunteering gives me a reason to be with other adults, talk about things that could include intellectually stimulating conversation, and interacting with others that care about their community. Volunteering really brings forward some wonderful people, whom which I have been honored to work with.
In our culture and society, it feels like there is pressure to be more than “just a mom” and for some time I succumbed to that mentality. As I talked about in From the Corporate World to the Kitchen, it took quite some time to work through the idea that being “just a mom” is actually worth my full time attention. Not that I’ve given up all my volunteer work, but alhamdulilah, I’ve learned to cut back in order to focus on my home and family first. It benefits no one if mama is stressed out all the time trying to juggle everything.
So again, who benefits from volunteer work from mama? Obviously, the community, in sha Allah, but if the right balance is struck, it can benefit both the mom in the house and her family. The key is finding that balance! It can be tricky, and I would err on the side of caution before signing up for too much. It’s easy to get burnt out and leave people wondering why you are unreliable – which benefits no one, and actually can be harmful to the organization and yourself.
At this point what I’ve learned is not to sell myself short for being “just a mom”, but also to find time to be involved in things that I find rewarding. What’s very rewarding for me might not be the most dire need of those around me, and I have to learn how to separate the two. It’s not fair to myself, my family, or an organization to make a long term commitment just because I felt compelled based on their immediate need. One task or another? Sure. Signing up as a coordinator/leader/contact point? There needs to be deep thought about that before saying yes.
In sha Allah there is a balance where our families are proud of us and the work we do. The family shouldn’t be left feeling abandoned or resentful. Sometimes it takes trial and error (okay, maybe most of the time) to find where that sweet spot is in the middle. Let’s hope we don’t burn down bridges on the way. Good thing most people are forgiving. Alhamdulilah