Wednesday, February 6, 2013

I Am A Volunteer Addict

Hello, my name is Kim and I'm a volunteer addict.

Every year I swear it's the year I will start saying, "no" more often.  As in , "no I can't help with your fundraiser" or "no, I'm sorry, I'm not available to work on the (insert name here) committee." I plan to say no, I practice saying no and when someone asks me to do pretty much anything I end up saying yes.  Why?  I don't know. Psychology majors feel free to pipe in here.

Last year I said yes to designing the yearbook for our elementary school. That job, by itself, would be enough to satisfy a normal person's volunteer capacity between taking and organizing pictures and planning pages. I don't keep track of how much time I spend each month on the yearbook because I'm afraid to see the numbers.  I start planning the yearbook in September and submit it in March.  Other than the classroom portrait pages that come from the school photo company, the rest of the yearbook is done by me, myself and I.

As a founding member of our school garden group, it's our mission to educate our kids about nutrition and healthy food choices. We planted a garden at the school to show the students where real food comes from, and tie gardening into the curriculum. Gardening by itself = long hours and lots of work. Add to that the countless hours spent on proposals, garden project documentation, website maintenance and general PR and I've got another monumental task on my hands. But, hey, it's about the future of our kids' health!  Of course I will help!

I decided to head our PTA Reflections contest this year because I think it's important for kids to express themselves artistically and this National PTA program offers positive recognition for students' artistic efforts.  We have a lot of talented kids at our school and some don't even know they can WIN PRIZES for their talents.  I set off on a mission this year to get more kids involved in the contest. Classroom visits, creating posters, securing judges, online submission forms, answering format questions, submitting winners to state PTA office, creating display boards for district ceremony, oh my! But, hey, it's for the Arts!  Of course I will help!

This year, I offered to work with struggling readers as a literacy tutor. I only planned to work in one classroom, once a week but another teacher who didn't get a volunteer for her class asked if I would consider helping her, too.  Of course I said yes.   A child's ability to read is directly related to his or her academic performance. If kids can't read well they can't take tests well (or do anything well for that matter) and it's a spiraling descent into a lifetime of hardship. For some kids the only time they spend reading is at school. Hey, reading is fundamental! Of course I'll help!

I've helped with the annual Teacher Appreciation Week luncheon for the past three years. A friend and I plan the menu, shop for and prepare the food and serve it in addition to other appreciation week tasks like securing donations or making baked goods for the coffee cart. Hey, it's for the teachers! Of course I'll help!

I also volunteer in my kids' classrooms twice a week. Hey, it's for my OWN kids!  Of course I'll help!

This is just school volunteering and the list above is not complete. Too many times I've said yes to things that require less time but still require time. Sometimes covering for someone who has a sick kid at home or just helping a friend/teacher in need. Add to that the rest of my responsibilities in maintaining our household and I have no time left for me. Zero. Zip. Zilch. I can't find time do the things that I want to do.  I'm overwhelmed and becoming resentful. Psychology majors feel free to pipe in here.

Admitting you have a problem is the first step in overcoming the problem. I'm admitting I'm a volunteer addict and I know I have to stop. I need to reprioritize my time. 

So, goodbye Teacher Appreciation Week - someone else can step up this year.  Sorry, PTA I can't be on the board.  Party planning is not my cup of tea all you party planners out there looking for help. 

Hello, my name is Kim and I'm a recovering volunteer addict.  I am learning to say no.  For real.

5 comments:

Kerrie McLoughlin said...

You are so cute! And hi, my name is Kerrie and I am about to become a holding-homeschool-classes addict so I can be held accountable to teach certain things while helping others who might not have the brainpower or energy to get such a thing together. I'll le you know how that one goes!

Kerrie McLoughlin said...

You are so cute! And hi, my name is Kerrie and I am about to become a holding-homeschool-classes addict so I can be held accountable to teach certain things while helping others who might not have the brainpower or energy to get such a thing together. I'll le you know how that one goes!

Kim Murray said...

Why do we do this to ourselves? Good luck, Kerrie!

Cathy Ballou Mealey said...

Kim -

I think today's blog post at WRITER UNBOXED was written just for you! No?

http://writerunboxed.com/2013/02/08/the-hidden-power-of-no/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+WriterUnboxed+%28Writer+Unboxed%29

xo

Cathy

Kim Murray said...

Thanks Cathy! Wow, that post was totally meant for me. It IS OK for me to say, no. It is. It is. It is. I'm going to keep repeating that...

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