When you look at your own community, it is amazing how many volunteers come together to make things happen. Our communities would be vastly different without these wonderful helpers. Many of us can raise our hands to say we have been required to put in community hours for academia while some of us did it because of that warm fuzzy feeling after seeing the impact of our work. While I have appreciated *nearly* every minute of helping others, I’m burnt out.  

Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy being a volunteer for my alma maters and for my church, but that is about where it stops these days. I’m proud to say I’m slowly growing a backbone and have learned to put my foot down to invest in the power of “No.” However, I was taught to always put others before yourself and I suppose that is why I have put in so many hours over the years. But at this stage of life, I want to be selfish and put my family first to focus on them.

By the time I get home from work to when bedtime rolls around, I’m lucky if I get to spend 2 hours with my family. There are days I play the pity party and weep when I think of how much time I actually get to spend with my beautiful family throughout the week. So when I’m presented with those opportunities to help or network after 5:00 pm, I’ve consistently been answering “No, not today.” I get 120 minutes with my family every evening and if I can control it, not a single one of those minutes will be spent somewhere else.

Conversely, I still feel guilty days later knowing I didn’t volunteer for someone or something who honestly needed the assistance. I’ve discovered my decision to not volunteer is a catch-22. I struggle internally with not helping out my community. I know I must invest my own time if I want to see where I live thrive, especially when I think of the benefit it will have on my children. Yet, I’m upset because I’m taking time away from my growing family. No matter which decision I make, I’m not as happy as I want to be.

How am I supposed to set an example of serving others, when I don’t even want to do it right now? Juggling little ones and volunteering is quite the balancing act that I have not quite mastered. I do hope in time I can figure it out. Until then, I know I will continue to toss and turn over each decision.

Kara Stevens

Kara Stevens is the wife to a wonderful Marine and mommy to a beautiful little boy in Central Nebraska. Kara works full time as an Event and Retail Coordinator, but is working towards her dream job to be a stay-at-home mom. Her loves include the outdoors, cooking, and spending time at church and in prayer!