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Being a mum equals being a volunteer

Mums are givers

I’m going to make a massive generalisation and say women, especially mums, are givers. We give to our families, friends, communities and employers. We do a lot of unpaid work. Some of it is fomal volunteering. Most of it isn’t.

When Mara from Volunteering Australia showed me a graph of the types of people, by age and sex, that volunteered…­ you guessed it. Women between the ages of 30 and 50 – mums with school-aged children.

And that surprised me. I thought it would be the older age group, the retired ones. I didn’t view what I did as volunteering. It was something I just did.

Crazy amount of volunteering

Then I sat down and worked out all the unpaid work I did.

Let’s start with the kids’ school:

  • the P and C committee and all those night-time meetings

  • the tuckshop

  • as a parent/helper in the classrooms and on countless excursions

  • at fetes, cupcake stalls and sausage sizzles

  • graduation committees.

I can’t even name it all. I’ve been doing variations of this for the past 11 years.

Then there’s the Little Athletics Club:

  • coaching

  • officialling events

  • running the canteen

  • making sure everyone is following Covid-safe regulations

  • attending committee meetings

  • trying to drum up sign-ups by putting up signs and posting on Facebook

  • setting up and packing up equipment

  • emailing.

That’s been going on for three years.

There’s also the JP stuff. Such a glutton for punishment. I became a Justice of the Peace to help people in the community. That involves things like witnessing signatures, taking oaths, verifying copies of documents, and signing off on affidavits and statutory declarations, plus lots of other things.

Oh, and how can I forget volunteering for the amazing Broken to Brilliant? The charity that has done so much for me.

I’ve loved it all

I’ve loved the social interaction, meeting new people and making friends. I absolutely loved being around all the kids, getting to know them, supporting them in their achievements and their struggles.

It’s a wonderful feeling to be contributing to things you really care about and that are important for you, your kids, the community and other domestic violence survivors. I’m lucky it has never felt like work. It has usually been lots of fun.

Don’t get burnout!

But… does it sound exhausting?

Trying to raise my kids, work full-time, study part-time, maintain a household AND volunteer is hard. And that brings me to the issue of burnout.

The downside is that if you’re a people pleaser like I am, it can be difficult to say no and set limits for yourself.

Serving others and not expecting anything in return can be like second nature for a lot of us mums.

I have personally felt some burnout lately and had to scale down the amount of volunteering I do. But that’s ok. The work will continue, and I can be sure in the knowledge that I’ve given as much as I can in my circumstances.

It’s good to acknowledge when it’s time to pass the baton.

Blogging GEMS program

This Blog is a part of the Blogging GEMS program, which supports domestic violence survivors to practise the self-care strategies of Gratitude, Exercise, Mindfulness, Support, and Service (GEMS). As they practise the strategies, they blog about can read their survivor GEMS Blogs:

Gratitude Blogs:

Exercise Blogs

Mindfulness Meditation Blogs:

Service Blogs

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