The following is a guest post from momAgendaCOMM blogger Jessica McFadden.
You, the momAgenda woman, are a natural born leader. You are a charismatic personality whom others are drawn to, and naturally they want you to volunteer for their cause, lead their group and take over that outgoing officer position. Everyone wants a piece of you, you’re a hot commodity.
Flattering as it may be, the constant volunteer requests can be extraordinarily stressful. It is impossible — and unhealthy — to always say yes. If a solicitation of your time does not bring you immediate joy and enthusiasm, here are five important tactics for setting limits to your schedule…and preserving your sanity!
Tip #1: Follow
If any leadership position request brings you anxiety, you should absolutely say no. Simply respond that you are more comfortable serving as a vibrant member of a committee. If you receive pressure (“There is no one else!”, “If you don’t do it, it won’t happen!”) firmly push-back that you feel called to serve as a committee member. By offering to work as a supporting player on a team, you are still saying yes and donating your valuable time and energy.
Do not worry: There is always someone else. Really.
Tip #2: Pause
As busy mothers and women who like to support each other, we often feel called to add our names to that Sign Up Genius or Volunteer Spot form the minute it hits our email inboxes. With a stressed-out sigh, we add our name, sometimes several times, to a nearly blank sign up sheet.
But no awards are given to first place. If you are not immediately excited to serve in this way, simply place that email request in a folder to reopen in a few days. When you revisit, you may be surprised to see it has already been filled up completely by others, leaving you free to serve in a way that gives you more joy.
Tip #3: Specialize
I like to call this strategy “Go big and then stay home.” Instead of signing up to help with every single fundraiser, school activity or house of worship call for volunteers, simply bust your booty on one, stellar, big project for the organization. Choose an annual activity that occurs during a time of year when you know you will have some freedom and your momAgenda looks a bit light.
Classic examples include annual book fairs, read-a-thons, family fun runs, scout sales, galas, and summer worship camps. Go big and sweat out all your volunteer energy at once…and then happily coast the rest of the year.
Tip #4: Hibernate
If you are coming off of a big life change or transitioning out of a large volunteer role, it is perfectly fine to take a year to regroup and say no to most requests. Simply communicate that you are a little burned out after giving more energy that you had available, and are using this year to build up your reserves. Do not think twice about what others may think.
When you recommit to volunteering again next year, you will feel refreshed and full of genuine enthusiasm.
Tip #5 Consult the Kids
This is the easiest tip ever: choose the roles that bring your children the most joy! Pull out your momAgenda and last year’s too, and go over the events together, getting your family’s feedback on the ways you spent your time.
Although Mom is always in charge, obtaining information about your kids’ preferences can be a help as you evaluate which projects will receive your elusive “yes.”
Take care of you.
I hope these five strategies can help you feel more calm and balanced in the crazy sea of commitments. Saying no can be a beautiful thing, and it makes all the times you say yes that much more powerful and beautiful. For more in-depth strategies, be sure to read Seven Secrets to Finding More Time for You by momAgenda founder Nina Restieri.
Jessica McFadden is a mother of three children and the founder of A Parent in America, a lifestyle blog for parents and A Parent in Silver Spring, an award-winning site for families in the Washington, DC area.