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The working mum’s survival guide to volunteering

The working mum’s survival guide to volunteering

One of the great things about having kids is that it draws you into communities. The number of these communities grows as your kids move from child care and kindergarten through to primary school and beyond.

Many of these communities rely on people volunteering and they often need volunteers just in order to function. The kinder has a committee, the school wants help with reading classes, and the local sports team needs a volunteer coach and team manager. Before you know it you will be asked to help in all sorts of ways.

There are huge benefits to volunteering, such as building close relationships with other parents and getting to know their kids better. However, many of these roles are very time consuming and can create other pressures. There are clearly some roles to choose and others to avoid.

If you’re feeling that the juggle is overwhelming but you still want to help, here, in ascending order, is a list of the roles you should say ‘yes’ to versus the ones you should run a mile from.

  • Roles that you can time box and are in the manageable category: Class / school help, Team Manager, Assistant Coach.
  • Roles that you can probably time box but should be treated with caution: Secretary of an organisation like the kindergarten or a sports committee, or Treasurer of a small committee group (not something like a sports club with 25 teams!).
  • Roles that can be time consuming and also quite political: Coach (kids are usually fun to coach but managing parent expectations can sometimes make things stressful), President of a club, Maintenance / working bee coordinator.
  • The time bomb volunteer roles. These are great things to do but only take them on if you have lots of energy and resilience: School or Kinder President, Head of fundraising (a never-ending job and you always feel you should be doing more), President of a large sports group or club.

So while it’s important to give when you can, make sure you look after yourself and only say ‘yes’ knowing what you are signing up for!

Maggie Scott is a Melbourne mum of two. She is also the founder of Parachuute, an app that gives parents back some precious time by using their trusted network to get their kids from A to B. Parachuute is a safe, easy and guilt-free way to ask for and offer help.


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