I have a problem saying no to volunteering, especially at my daughter’s school. I help out in the classroom twice a week, help with parties and specials, am a PTO board member, the list goes on and on.
Don’t get me wrong. I love helping out. I’ve made great friends, have seen a side of the classroom I wouldn’t normally see (and have kept up with what my little one is doing much better that way), and I feel great after I help. But lately I’ve noticed it’s taking a real toll on my business. There have been days that I’ve volunteered for three different school events in one day, some of which have lasted hours, and that left me nearly no time for work. It got so bad for a while that one of the parents at school asked me what class I taught, because she saw me so much up at school.
As work at home moms, it’s really hard not to think you can do everything a stay at home mom can. We’re home, after all. We have flexible schedules. And we feel like we’re doing our part when we can spend an hour helping the school, which in turn helps them help our children more. But it’s very easy to get caught up in the ‘I can do it – I work from home!’ trap if you’re not careful.
It’s tough too because for me, volunteer work is kind of my social outlet. I had a pretty close group of friends in my coworkers when I worked outside the home. And over the years, everyone has kind of drifted apart little by little as they left work, plus many of my friends moved to other towns or out of state. So my time at school has provided me with most of my current friends. Plus there are the kids. There’s absolutely nothing better than knowing that you’ve been able to make a difference in a child’s life, even in just one small way. But your business is always looming in the background, menacing – and let’s face it, beckoning – you to go back home and work. What people don’t realize is that we still need to get our eight to ten hours in a day. So if I’m up at school for four or five hours, I have to make that time up at night.
I’ve made a promise to myself that next year I’m going to stop and think about whether I can truly afford the time before I volunteer for anything else. Hubby suggested that I note days and times that aren’t quite as busy (like, say, Friday mornings), and only volunteer at that time. I’ll never be able to stop completely, but I can definitely be smarter about it!