Thoughts on Volunteering

I worked full-time when I was a parent producer/board president in my son’s high school theatre program. At first I thought this would be a struggle (because I didn’t work when I first took on those jobs) but then I realized that 8 hours a day at a computer with my smaller children at daycare actually made it easier to be a parent volunteer than it would have been as a stay at home Mom. It’s much harder to check emails when you’re feeding kids/changing diapers. I had more time to check in on stuff when I was sitting at a computer all day in a quiet office.

I remember people used my having small children as *proof* to a lot of other parents that they should be volunteering too. Kim does it, and she has small children AND a full-time job! That never sat really well with me because I truly felt like my full-time job made it easier because there’s something about having a job outside the home that erases your guilt about family responsibilities. I’ve worked full-time outside the home with babies and been a strictly stay-at-home Mom too teenagers and everything in between. I’ve worked part-time from an office and full-time from home. I HAVE DONE IT ALL.

And for me there was a freedom that came with working outside the home…an emotional freedom when things got neglected around the house…that made a lot of things easier than they would have been if I was home all day and earning no money. We ate out a ton when I worked outside the home because I never had time to cook, but we had extra money. Also, when my kids were small there were no extra-curricular activities in the evenings so being at E’s rehearsals or board meetings was no problem.

My point is that on paper – it would seem that volunteering for my teenager’s high school programs while having 2 small children and working full-time would be WAY harder than volunteering for my daughter’s soccer team now when I barely work part-time freelance and from home and I no longer change diapers. BUT THAT WOULD BE WRONG. I missed half of my kid’s first soccer game together last night for a meeting. I’m not sitting in an office job for 40-hours a week looking at my email all day. I still have to cook every night for my family, or at least have things they can cook themselves which still requires planning and grocery shopping.

There are just things that making volunteering for high school activities this time around…less favorable. Add in trying to move my Mom here and I’m already having major regrets. But they kept emailing with highlights and bold text begging for volunteers and I just couldn’t keep ignoring it. But man, I’m already planning on sending out a team email today asking for anyone who could just be my backup at a few games when I can’t be there.

I don’t know, I’m just feeling lost in this volunteer job already…so lost I’m not even sure what questions to ask. So, I guess my point is if your kids do extracurriculars and you can’t volunteer, make sure you at least thank those that do. But also don’t feel guilty about not taking on the big jobs. I mean, you need to fill your volunteer obligations, but don’t feel guilted into doing more. And don’t guilt parents who don’t do more. I never did that as a theatre parent (although I did send plenty of emails begging) because I never know everyone’s whole situation. Everyone has a different story that you don’t know about. I know parents who volunteer a lot but also have housekeepers or parents in town to help out or whose jobs are forgiving like mine was. I know parents who keep chronic illness/pain secret and so they get judged for not volunteering as much. You do YOU but also? Be really grateful for the others who choose to take on more obligations.

And say a small prayer for me to whatever deity you choose that I don’t screw up this soccer season for my daughter by being so completely clueless about what my job as her team manager entails.

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