Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Volunteering to Burnout and Back


Welcome to the November 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Family Service Projects

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about what service means in their families.

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I once created and moderated an online homeschool group. I helped keep a Mom's Night Out going for that group. And then I started and ran Homeschool Scouts. When I got burned out from constantly reminding people each week that we needed a volunteer to lead, a volunteer to bring snacks, and a volunteer to bring drinks, I finally just said - Someone do this or nothing is going to get done. Guess what, nothing got done. The group fell apart.

Fast forward a few years and I started taking Tyler to Girl Scouts. She was homeschooling first grade, but I found a close-by group with a mixture of girls from different schools. I was determined to just be a mom. I sat elsewhere in the room and was not going to get involved. But... they needed a cookie mom. Alright, I'll be the cookie mom. When I went to train for that, the Cookie Coordinator said that Cookie Moms make great co-leaders. Next thing you know, I'm Cookie Mom and Co-leader for our troop.


Brownie Girl Scout Tyler, January 2007

I volunteered at Day Camp that Summer, too. Then I became the Cookie Coordinator for our Service Unit (13 troops). The local GS office was happy to accept all the help they could get from anyone willing. The problem with this is they wound up with lots of new volunteers, excited about the program, volunteering so much... we got burned out. Around sixth grade, the troop fell apart.

So now I'm trying to get Sasha involved in a Homeschool Camp Fire group. Some volunteering will be required and the kids will also get to volunteer for community projects. I'm now parenting a teenager, a preschooler, and an infant. I find it really hard to make time to volunteer. I would, however, like to volunteer with my kids. We may not be ready right away, but... eventually.

What sort of volunteering do you do with your kids? I'd really like some ideas for volunteering with little ones!


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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Acts of Service: The Great Neighborhood Clean Up — Sarah at Firmly Planted shares how her daughter's irritation with litter led to eekly cleanups.
  • Running for Charity — Find out how Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction uses her love of running and a great new app to help feed the hungry.
  • 50 Family Friendly Community Service Project Ideas — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares a list of 50 family-friendly community service project ideas that are easy to incorporate to your daily, weekly, monthly, or seasonal rhythmn.
  • Volunteering with a Child — Volunteer work does not need to be put on hold while we raise our children. Jenn of Monkey Butt Junction discusses some creative options for volunteering with a child at Natural Parents Network.
  • Family Service Project: Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina — Erika at Cinco de Mommy volunteers with her children at the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, where 29% of the recipients are children.
  • Family Service Learning: Advent Calendar — Lyndsay at ourfeminist{play}school offers her family's approach to some holiday-related community service by sharing their community focused Advent Calendar. She includes so tips and suggestions for making your own in time for this year's holidays.
  • How to make street crossing flags as a family service project — Lauren at Hobo Mama offers a tutorial for an easy and relatively kid-friendly project that will engage young pedestrians.
  • Pieces of the Puzzle — Because of an experience Laura from Pug in the Kitchen had as a child, she's excited to show her children how they can reach out to others and be a blessing.
  • Appalachian Bear Rescue — Erica at ChildOrganics shares how saving pennies, acorns and hickory nuts go a long way in helping rescue orphaned and injured black bears.
  • Volunteering to Burnout and Back — Jorje of Momma Jorje has volunteered to the point of burnout and back again... but how to involve little ones in giving back?
  • How to Help Your Kids Develop Compassion through Service Projects — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares service projects her family has done along with links to lots of resources for service projects you can do with your children.
  • Involving Young Children in Service — Leanna at All Done Monkey, the mother of a toddler, reflects on how to make service a joyful experience for young children.
  • A Letter to My Mama — Dionna at Code Name: Mama has dedicated her life to service, just like her own mama. Today Dionna is thanking her mother for so richly blessing her.
  • 5 Ways to Serve Others When You Have Small Children — It can be tough to volunteer with young children. Jennifer at Our Muddy Boots shares how her family looks for opportunities to serve in every day life.
  • When Giving It Away Is Too Hard for Mommy — Jade at Looking Through Jade Glass But Dimly lets her children choose the charity for the family but struggles when her children's generosity extends to giving away treasured keepsakes.
  • Community Service Through Everyday Compassion — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children calls us to Community Service Through Everyday Compassion; sometimes it is the small things we can do everyday that make the greater impacts.
  • School Bags and Glad RagsAlt Family are trying to spread a little love this Christmas time by involving the kids in a bit of charity giving.
  • Children in (Volunteering) Service — Luschka at Diary of a First Child reminisces on her own experiences of volunteering as a child, reflects on what she thinks volunteering teaches children and how she hopes voluntary service will impact on her own children.

12 comments:

  1. Oy - I can totally feel you. I'm currently in crisis mode, trying to figure out what to offload in order not to completely overextend. I *love* to help, I love to be involved, and I have an amazing inability to say no ;) Good luck figuring out the balance in your own family - having kids jof so many different ages would definitely be tough!j

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    1. You can say no?? Why do I find that hard to believe? I know I kinda suck at it, but I've gotten better as I've gotten busier in life. Going from having 1 kid to 3 in basically a 9 month span... Wow, yeah I just have to say no sometimes!

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  2. I know that the Habitat for humanity is always happy to have someone come to the builds and hand out snacks and drinks..

    Perhaps there is a retirement home nearby that would allow everyone to come in for storytime or some other form of entertainment... I know that those folks tend to LOVE little children and the chance to have a baby smile at them..

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I hadn't thought of that, that is a cool idea! And sometime else below had a cool suggestion about retirement homes, too...

      And I LOVE sharing Spencer (& Sasha) smiles with people, they're always contagious!

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  3. I agree with the above ^ retirement homes are awesome with small children. I worked in one for years and the families who came in with littles to color with the residents during the afternoons or pass out cookies while there was a movie on, those families made a difference. Not a huge commitment, but still a way to volunteer with the littles and teach them to think about others.

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    1. Coloring! That is brilliant! I love this idea. I always think that visiting retirement homes would be a sweet idea, but I always feel at a loss for what to do while there.

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  4. I arrange a field trip each month for our homeschool group.It really makes such a difference when everyone is excited and support each other in making plans.
    We also volunteer working with a Deaf ministry. We all enjoy that, and make it just a part of our life. I'm not sure the kids realize it's really a service that they are doing, ha.:-)

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    1. That is awesome! And do your kids sign? What do you do with the deaf ministry?

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  5. Ah, yes, burnout. Been there, bought the t-shirt. It's so hard to know (and enforce) your own limits when there's so much need and so many great projects to be involved in. I hope you get some good ideas for little-kid volunteering from the carnival!

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    1. Its so easy to say yes, yes, yes, and then find yourself buried. I've had to get better at saying no to preserve my sanity and my family.

      I definitely got some cool ideas so far!

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  6. Wow, I love this post! It is so easy to get over-involved and burned out. In the end, this isn't a great example for our kids either. They need to see us happy and balanced, so good for you for taking some time off to figure things out. Best of luck!

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  7. I can definitely relate! I have a hard time saying no and always want to participate in good causes. And when one or two people end up doing all the work, it's especially easily to burn out. Your giving heart is a wonderful example for your kids, though. Wishing you the best in finding the perfect balance for you and your family. Deb @ LivingMontessoriNow.com

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