Just Say No! Why I am the Nancy Reagan of Volunteering

Let me start by saying thank you to all those moms and dads who volunteer to coach, manage, organize and otherwise get involved for our kids’ sakes.  Truly, I appreciate your time, effort and dedication.  I used to be one of you.  I used to be a volunteer slut.  I didn’t know how to say no.  Class mom, team manager, spirit wear coordinator, committee chairperson, field trip chaperone … I said yes to it all.  Repeatedly.  For years.

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At first, I enjoyed spending time in the kids’ classrooms and being productive on the sidelines.  But after a few years and a few too many volunteer posts, the joy was gone.  I was over-committing and becoming resentful.  As I became a more seasoned mom, I realized that I wasn’t always saying yes for the right reasons.  I wasn’t always saying yes because I wanted to.  I was often saying yes because I felt I was supposed to.  That’s what stay-at-home moms do, right?  We volunteer.

But not anymore.  Not me.  Now, I hardly ever say yes.  Now, I am a volunteer prude.

As a freelance writer with a corporate background, I am the PTO’s wet dream:  I have the time, the skills and the resources to help.  What I don’t have is the drive or the desire, for three simple reasons:

  1. My kids don’t care.  Back in the day, my boys used to beg me to be in their classrooms to help out.  Nowadays, they practically beg me not to get involved.  I guess it’s just part of growing up.  Fair enough … You don’t have to tell me twice.
  2. I’m not interested in impressing other moms.  Let’s be honest … Kids don’t care if cupcakes are homemade and Pintrest-worthy or store-bought and prepackaged.  They just want cupcakes.  There are, however, a handful of moms who are prone to judging and think that as a stay-at-home mom, I should be baking Duff Goldman-quality treats.  I’m not even close, but it’s all good because I’m also not trying to impress anyone.  I’m too old for that crap.
  3. I don’t know how to do it casually.  As a perfectionist, I stress over everything being done right and I end up treating my volunteer posts like full-time jobs.  I invest way too much time, energy and money and as a result, become bitter.  Ironically, volunteering makes me mean and that’s not good for me or my family.

So now I follow Nancy Reagan’s advice and just say no.  At first I felt guilty, but I’m over it.  I’m even getting good at it.  Last month when the homeroom parent sign-up sheet came around, I politely passed it along.  When the JV football team searched for a team mom, I graciously declined.  When the PTO requested book fair helpers, I nicely and unapologetically said no thank you.  This doesn’t mean that I won’t do my small part when asked.  I will happily contribute money or supplies when I can.  I will even help out at the occasional class party or team dinner if my kids want me to and time permits.  But if you’re looking for someone to spearhead the upcoming Halloween party or organize the next fundraiser, I’m no longer your girl.  Worker bee, yes.  Queen bee, no.

Am I a slacker?  Maybe, but it’s for the best.  I know my family would agree.

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– LJDT

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One thought on “Just Say No! Why I am the Nancy Reagan of Volunteering

  1. Your timing couldn’t be better on this-stupidly I volunteered to help serve food last night at the monster mash and I was regretting it by Monday- luckily I avoided having to do anything!!

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