For the past eight years I’ve been a volunteer. I’ve held various roles within the organisation, working with children, event planning and management, and leading and training adults. My commitment each week varied from two hours to full weekends, evenings of paperwork and emails, days of preparation, monthly meetings, fortnightly meetings, trips and visits.
I’ve always been involved in volunteer work of some form, following the lead of my parents who were involved with playgroups, support organisations and sports clubs during my childhood. Over the past eight years I was often asked “why do you do it”. It wasn’t an organisation I’d grown up with, it wasn’t something I followed my parents into, yet the answer was simple. I enjoyed helping others and meeting new people. I got to watch quiet, reserved young girls grow into bright, confident, amazing young adults. I got to offer new opportunities and experiences, encourage them to step outside their comfort zones, teach them new skills, introduce them to new friendships and more. That was more than enough of a return on investment for me.
When Miss 2 ½ came into our lives, I took a few months to get used to my new role as a mum. When I returned to my volunteer role, I made arrangements for her to be with my parents for an evening each week. I juggled the commitment well, even when I returned to work. 90% of the time it was easy.
But it’s amazing how your priorities and feelings can change. Baby #2 has really made me reevaluate my life. The amount of time I spend with my family, my balance between work, home, and the other commitments I have. I want to be home every night to put my girls to bed, and I want my weekends to be about them. It began to weigh heavy on my mind, that my balance of commitments wasn’t quite sitting right anymore. I’ve always been someone who needs to give 100% of my efforts to anything I commit to, and I feel if I can’t give 100% I’m not doing justice to the role, or to those involved.
So this week, I have officially resigned from my volunteer role. As much as I’ve loved the experiences I’ve had, I believe the time is right for me to move on. Even though helping others is still important to me, I feel I can do this through my work and by helping my family and friends. A friend reminded me this week you always need to keep in perspective whether what you are doing is serving yourself as well as others. If it’s not serving you anymore, perhaps it’s time to let it go. This can be a hard notion to accept for someone like me, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it. I believe my choice to volunteer will move into something I can do with my children, satisfying both the need to be with my family, and the desire to help others.
When considering work-life balance, you’re ultimately trying to minimise the sacrifices to the aspects of your life that are most important. You have to really look at what is important to you, what your goals are, and what priorities you need to make in order to reach those goals. Sometimes it means ending a chapter of your life, in order to focus on your bigger picture goals and having a better balance of what is the most important to you.