Wondering how to give back to your community without sacrificing family time (or your sanity)? Here are tips from five volunteer moms who make it work:
Just step up
“If no one steps forward, kids’ sports teams and other important organizations can get lost,” says Brandi Bedson, a Fox Creek, Alta. mom of kids ages 11, eight and six. “Someone has to take that first step so other people will follow. Volunteers don’t work alone—it’s just like the T.E.A.M acronym, ‘together everybody achieves more.” Bedson works a full-time, flexible schedule as a journalist, and is the volunteer chair for her local chapter of wetlands conservation group Ducks Unlimited Canada, and a parent volunteer on her kids’ baseball and highland dance clubs.
Capitalize on your strengths and interests
“I like being around other people, especially kids. I like the company! I feel fulfilled and I have more of a social life now than I did before having my daughter,” says Jackie Richard, a Hamilton, Ont. mom to a seven-year-old. “Volunteering means you get out and meet people.” Richards is a SAH mom and volunteers as a classroom and lunchroom parent, as well as helping on field trips and at her daughter’s annual dance recitals.
Get the whole family involved
“There are tasks our children are able to do with us and we try to involve them as much as possible and let them know every contribution is helpful,” says Tanys Klaeboe, a Coquitlam, B.C. mom to kids aged nine and seven. “And the boys have supportive grandparents who are eager to take them overnight so we can cook.” Klaeboe is a WFH accounting consultant. She and her husband, Dave, organize and cook summer, Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve buffets for 300+ patients and families at the BC Children’s Hospital. She also volunteers for the hot lunch program at her kids’ school.
Don’t run yourself ragged: log only the time you can afford
“Even just two or three hours one time makes a big difference to your school,” says Sonja Babic, a Toronto mom to an eight-year-old and six-year-old twins. “Put in one shift at the school fun fair, family literacy event or field trip. It’s easy!” A SAH mom, Babic is a parent-council member at her kids’ school and occasional classroom volunteer.
Claim it as “me” time
“Helping can be a selfish activity. I’m not sure who feels better—the person in need or the person who offers a hand for them to grab,” says Karen Wolverton, a Vancouver mom to two kids ages 13 and 11. “Volunteer activities become something you look forward to! There’s no feeling that compares to being able to help.” Wolverton is co-owner of Lush Cosmetics and a philanthropist who visits and fundraises for orphanages in Mexico and Africa, as well as participating in the BC Children’s Hospital fundraiser, the Festival of Trees.
Read how Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau keeps up a busy schedule as a mother and philanthropist by clicking here.
By Yuki Hayashi