Our Keepsake Journal is Here! 🎉

 

It’s that time of year when many of us take stock of all of our blessings and start to feel the need to give back. It is commonplace to hear of families volunteering at the local soup kitchen or collecting canned food and toys for the less fortunate. But what if you are a busy mom who wants to give more than just a holiday helping hand? The following are some tips to guide you into the world of charity and volunteerism.

  1. Decide if you truly have the time to volunteer. You may have an overwhelming desire to give back, but if you are already up to your eyeballs in personal obligations, it may not be the correct time to volunteer. Consider making a donation and sharing information about the cause until you are able to carve out the time necessary to actively volunteer. Use this time to research several local nonprofits and make a running list of organizations which interest you.
  2. If you find that you do have some free time, figure out how much of that time you are willing to donate before committing to a particular organization. Specifics such as its distance from your home and number of mandatory meetings may automatically rule out certain charities. If you only have 3 hours to donate, don’t choose a nonprofit that meets 45 minutes away.
  3. Be upfront with your availability. Whether it is the classroom, a sports team or a charitable organization, let the leader know exactly how often you are available and when you absolutely are not. While some nonprofits welcome their volunteers to drop in when they can, others require them to commit to a minimum number of days or hours.
  4. If you are already limited in the amount of time you get to spend together, consider volunteering as a family. Many organizations gladly welcome older children. This can be a bonding experience, as well as the opportunity to teach your children about selflessness. If you have a high schooler, this can also be the perfect time to earn those service hours that look so great on college applications, and just maybe lead them into a lifelong pattern of generosity.
  5. It may be hard work, but ultimately volunteering should feel good for your soul. If you find yourself dreading coming in to volunteer, you are uncomfortable with the tasks assigned, you feel as though you are being taken advantage of, or you simply do not wish to continue working with the organization, do not be afraid to move on. It is senseless to take time away from yourself and your family to do something that is making you unhappy. There are countless organizations looking for good volunteers. Keep looking, you will find the right fit.
  6. Reassess your availability on a yearly basis. Your children may have more homework or extracurricular activities which may require your assistance or transportation. You may be working longer hours or have goals sitting on the backburner that you wish to attain. On the flip side, you may find that you have a couple of extra hours available now that your children are in school full time. Taking some time at the beginning of each year to reevaluate your schedule will help make sure you are effectively allocating your hours.
  7. Recognize Volunteer Burnout. Does the idea of coming in to volunteer suddenly give you anxiety? Do you find yourself presenting signs of illness or fatigue when volunteering day approaches? Are you becoming resentful of the mission, the leaders or other volunteers? These are signs of Volunteer Burnout. Volunteer Burnout often occurs after many consecutive months of volunteering without a defined break. Many charities are in a constant state of event planning and fundraising, and oftentimes this gives volunteers little to no downtime in between. Unlike the workplace, where your efforts are rewarded by a paycheck, volunteers must rely on internal compensation. If you are beginning to feel burned out, is totally okay to take a sabbatical. You might only need a month to recharge, or you may choose to sit out for a year. Remember that the time, talent and treasure that you are giving comes from the body of human being who needs to care for herself physically as well as mentally. You should always put your oxygen mask on first before attempting to help others.

MOH-Amahl (2)

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Yvette Manes

Yvette Manes has been a blogger and freelance writer for nearly 20 years. Her work has appeared on Business Insider, Woman's Day, Parents Magazine, Romper, Scary Mommy, Today Parents, and more. After taking a sabbatical to care for her late mother, she has come back to the writing world. Yvette lives in Tampa, Florida with her husband of 25 years, their two college-aged children, and their 15-year-old Italian Greyhound.

Dear Graduate, I Love You Forever

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood
Kindergarten grad

I never imagined these days of preparing for graduation, senior prom, senior photos, and you actually moving out would come. A few weeks into your life, friends gifted you a 6-month sleeper. I remember the cuddly white footie pajamas well. But I swore you’d never get big enough to wear it. How could this 8-pound human grow to fit into 6-month clothes? Impossible. And then somehow they did fit, and then they didn’t anymore. Just like that. Everyone says the days are long but the years are short. Everyone, that is, who has had a lot of years. When I...

Keep Reading

Always Choose Adventure

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood
Two children looking at aquarium exhibit, color photo

Here’s the thing about traveling with little kids. Is it hard? Sometimes. Sometimes it looks like a whole carry-on dedicated solely to snacks, activities, and emergency treats. Sometimes it looks like buying a drink for the passenger next to you as a way of saying sorry and thank you all at the same time for the airplane kid chaos they endured. Sometimes it looks like altering your picture-perfect itinerary that you meticulously planned on account of missed naps finally catching up. Sometimes it looks like washing a car seat off in a hotel shower because your toddler got carsick, then...

Keep Reading

Love Beyond Words

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother hugging daughter

My daughter Lexi lost her words and some of her motor functioning when she was two years old. She was three when the silent intruder of Rett Syndrome made itself known through seizures. But here’s the heart of our story: even without words, Lexi and I have created our own language—a symphony of unspoken love. She may not call me “Mom” in the traditional sense, but her eyes, her laughter, and the unique sounds she makes speak volumes to my heart. Each day with Lexi is a dance—one where the steps aren’t always clear, and the rhythm can change in...

Keep Reading

Daddy, Am I Beautiful?

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood
Daddy holding preschool-aged daughter, color photo

“Daddy, do I look beautiful?” I heard my daughter ask my husband from the other room. I barely heard what she said as I was in the kitchen washing the dishes, but her words struck a chord in my heart. My sweet girl, all dressed to go out, asked for her Daddy’s assurance that she was beautiful, that she was admired and special. It hit me in that moment: this pure and built-in desire we all have to be loved, admired, and wanted. Just as my sweet girl wanted her Daddy’s approval and assurance of love, I so often cry...

Keep Reading

Sensitive Sons Are Strong Too

In: Kids, Motherhood
Boy pets kitten held by another older boy

My son has always been timid. When he was a baby, he cried when he lost his pacifier in his crib. If I laughed too loudly, he might burst into tears. Once, he was asleep in his bassinet as my husband and I turned on a movie. The MGM lion roared, and he woke in a panic that seemed to take forever to calm. Now, at five years old, my son wrestles, runs, fights, and screams at the television. He pretends to fight bad guys and save me and his twin sister. He thinks he is the king of the...

Keep Reading

Wrestle Like a Girl

In: Kids, Motherhood
Girls wrestling team huddling on the floor

I’m a wrestling mom, but I’m a new breed. I’m the kind with my little girl on the mat. Sure, I support our son out there, and I scream like a wild banshee with the rest of the crazy parents, and I’m in awe of the athletes these boys are. But then steps out our daughter. And it’s different. She decided to join her big bro at practice years ago when word was just starting to spread about the possible emergence of girls’ wrestling. She was only in kindergarten, but I think my husband might have already been thinking college....

Keep Reading

I’ll Hold on To Moments of Childhood with My Preteen as Long as I Can

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Smiling preteen and mother

This Christmas season, my husband took our laser light projector and aimed it at the Australian bottle tree in the front yard. It shone like a thousand red and green fairies dancing through the branches. The first time I saw it, I gasped with glee. Christmas came and went. Much to our 6-year-old’s disappointment, we took down the decorations and boxed them in the attic until next year. I noticed that my husband forgot to put away the light projector though. One Friday night, recovering from a stomach bug, we decided to watch Wonka and fold laundry. We bought into the...

Keep Reading

“Tell Me Another Story, Daddy?”

In: Kids
Man reading to young son

“Tell me another story, Daddy?” I had heard these words since we had finished supper. My 5-year-old son loves hearing stories. He loves to put himself in these stories. He doesn’t just watch Paw Patrol, he’s in Paw Patrol. He is a Kratt brother. And he loves hearing stories about his favorite adventurers with him saving the day alongside his animated heroes. While I absolutely love telling stories to my son, there are many days when I don’t feel like it. When I want to say, “No, Daddy is tired. Why don’t you go play with your toys while daddy...

Keep Reading

Getting Glasses Can be an Adjustment

In: Kids, Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Pre-teen wearing glasses

On their last break from school, my daughter and son happily enjoyed a nice week of catching up with friends and having a relaxed schedule. I was careful to avoid overloading our schedule so we had a nice balance of days out and days being at home. As can often happen on a school break, I used one day as our “appointments day.” We had our routine dental checks and eye exams booked. The morning went smoothly with the dentist, and then it was time to head home for lunch. Next, we popped back out to do the children’s eye...

Keep Reading

To the Fifth Grade Parents: Thank You

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood
Arcade style photo machine, color photo

To the fifth-grade parents in my community: How are we here already? The end of fifth grade. The end of elementary school. It feels like yesterday we saw each other at kindergarten drop off, some of us through the tears of sending our first baby to school, some seasoned pros, and a small group of us with a touch of extra worry in our mama hearts—the special ed mamas. Among the many things I worried about sending my kindergarten son to school was how your children would treat him. Would they laugh at him like they did at his Montessori...

Keep Reading