Diary of an exhausted volunteer

I am one of those parents at school.  You know the ones.  Always in class helping with groups, on the canteen, sending e-mails to organise events, in the uniform shop, on the cake stall.  The list is endless and so is my ability to seem to always be there as the smiling helper, never letting my children or anyone else down.

Well, I am almost broken.  The smile is wearing thin.  Maybe you need to know what I am really thinking.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love to volunteer and that is why I do it.  I enjoy being part of my community, of doing my part and teaching my children about service to others.  I have met some fantastic, giving people.  Many are very grateful for the roles I play, especially when times are hard for them.  I am so glad to be able to support other parents at those times.

Sadly though, we too often use up those who are prepared to do their bit as we expect too much and stretch them to breaking point.  As one of these parents, I have turned a terrible corner this year and now I am resentful.  Resentful of the expectation that I will always help and resentful of my own goals going unmet as my volunteer burden has become too great.

There are a few points I would like to make to those who have pushed me to this point:

1. I do not volunteer because I have nothing better to do.  I am a highly qualified professional who has more than enough to fill a day twice over.  I feel like I want to put this on a t-shirt or at least a badge.

2. When I send out a request for help, please do not send me back a list of reasons why you cannot help.

3. Please do not send me details of your schedule like it is my job to work around it.  Would you like a copy of my schedule back for you to work around?

4. I just want to do my bit.  I do not want to do your bit as well.

5. I know you are busy.  See point 1.

6. I should not have to chase you for a response.  Sure, I will smile and say it is fine, but I am not thinking that it is fine.  I am thinking that it is rude not to get back to someone who is volunteering to help your child.

7. I have children too and whatever problems you are having, I am probably having them as well, plus having to try to fix yours.

8. Do not get angry with me.  I am not being paid.  I am doing my best.

So please remember to appreciate your volunteers, do what you can to help them to make their jobs as easy as possible and don’t forget that a thank you would go a long way.

This post was written by someone who is known to Mamamia but who wishes to remain anonymous.

Do you volunteer? Have you recently “retired” from volunteering?

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