Frazzled Moms Push Back Against Volunteering
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|Fri, 12-03-2010 - 12:15pm|
No wonder some of these volunteers are stressed. Many of the projects they're working on are not educational they're merely fluff.
Doing some volunteering is great but not when it takes away significant time with your family. Learn to say, "No", which is difficult at first but gets easier with practice.
IT was last spring, somewhere between overseeing Teacher Appreciation Week and planning the fifth-grade graduation party, when Jamie Lentzner, mother of two in Foster City, Calif., reached her breaking point.
She had already designed the fifth-grade T-shirt, taught art twice monthly to three different classes, and organized movie night, restaurant night and beach night fund-raisers. She was overscheduled and exhausted. She had scant time to help her children with their school projects because — coincidentally — she was always working on projects for their school. “You’ve got to stop,” said her husband, Darin, who worried that the constant stress she seemed to feel was damaging to her health.
Ms. Lentzner realized that she had spiraled out of control. She vowed to put an end to all this volunteering — and to recapture some of the serenity in her family life that had vanished because of nothing more than a well-intentioned desire to pitch in.
Today, more than three months into the school year, Ms. Lentzner is a new woman. She has yet to attend a PTA meeting or decorate so much as a classroom doorknob. When she saw her name listed as chairwoman of the annual Donuts for Dads Day (another event she oversaw last year) on a volunteer sign-up sheet, she whipped out a Sharpie and crossed it out.
“No, I’m not,” she wrote.
Her business — she designs children’s room décor — improved, and at home, the change has been striking. She has time to play Ping-Pong and Wii with the children. She hosted 27 relatives and friends for Thanksgiving last week, and for the first time in years she enjoyed the holiday. “I told my husband, ‘I am not stressed,’