Yes, you read that right. I am not encouraging mothers to volunteer in their schools, churches or communities. Quite the opposite: I am asking them to stop doing it.
What’s wrong with me? I know you’re asking. Well, I am a Recovering Volunteer. And I am here to spread the gospel of saying No.
I was PTA President of my kids’ school for 3 years, I worked on and ran the Silent Auction for my kids’ preschool for 2 years, I’ve set up blogs for local community organizations, worked on the 5th grade culmination committee, done snack bar shifts for my kids’ sports teams, and sat through probably 1000 meetings in the past 10 years, all as a volunteer.
And while it benefited my community and my children’s schools, I’m sure, it left me a run-down, crabby, resentful wreck. You’ve read about all the women who do for others and neglect themselves? Well, I’m one. And I can name at least 50 people in my Facebook circle who do the same.
At my kids’ school, there’s a group of 7 moms who seem to do all the work of organizing the PTA events, and guess what? They’re all burned out and super resentful, with good reason. Every event or fund-raiser takes time and energy, and often the results are under-appreciated.
And from all the people I’ve met and heard from over the past 10 years of volunteering, it’s pretty much the same everywhere. Rare is the PTA President who can say she has a great team who always share the work so that no one is over-burdened.
And so what does that leave us? A generation of burned-out moms. And what will our children learn about volunteering that way? Nothing good, I can assure you. My kids say, “Mom, why do YOU have to do everything?” They resent it, too.
Volunteering has to come from a place of giving, and you can’t give if you don’t have enough for yourself. So please stop, women. Stop and let someone else step in for a change.
This was originally posted on the LA Moms Blog in May 2010. Sarah Auerswald is a co-Founder of MomsLA, a Community of the Top Mom Bloggers in Los Angeles. When Sarah isn’t trying (and, let’s be honest, failing) to say No to volunteering, she blogs at MarVistaMom.com and Sarah & Sons.