Volunteer? It Depends

Amy Dunkin

Fellow blogger Anne Tergesen's recent entry on volunteering and the working mom resonated with me and several readers. Just last week, the subject came up for me in two contexts:

1. While signing up my boys for fall soccer, I was asked twice whether I could help out with the teams as a coach, assistant coach, team manager, or publicity director. I know they have to ask. Both times, I smiled and mumbled "Sorry, no thanks."

2. The incoming PTA president was telling a group of mothers how she was looking for an editor for the school's weekly newsletter. For about 10 seconds, I thought, "This is what I do for a living. I could do that." Then I thought, "This is what I do for a living. I can't possibly do that in my spare time as well."

I do like Martha Feingold's comment, "As a full time working mother of 4- my rule on volunteering is it always has to be something face to face with the kids. " (Martha, by the way, is involved with a site called ClubMom that is officially launching a mom-to-mom social networking area, The MomNetwork, on Mother's Day.)

When it comes to volunteering, I've pretty much done what Martha suggests: read a book to the class, chaperone a trip, help out in the schoolyard during lunchtime on the day I work at home, make arrangements for a Cub Scout outing. It doesn't take much time and you score twice: The school or organization appreciates the help and you and your kids get to see more of each other.