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Finding the Working Mom/Volunteer Balance

Is there a balance for working moms and volunteer work? I know the simple answer is “of course – it’s just a lesson in prioritizing.” But that’s exactly where I struggle. A few years ago I was lucky to find my local farmers market call for volunteers in the local paper. It was a perfect fit for my personal passions of supporting healthy families and eating locally. That initial season was a great balance with my children’s cooking business as I led hands-on food activities as part of the market’s education program. Four seasons later, the market has grown into an organization that focuses on larger sustainable programs including winter workshops, special events, new green programs, and so much more. With that growth comes more time needed from the volunteer staff. And even though I am now streamlined into the marketing and PR part of the market (which means no longer hauling tents before and after the market) it adds an increasing amount of time to my schedule. Updating the Web site alone and creating the weekly e-newsletter can be a nightmare when managing a bunch of different volunteers and their programs. When updating Web pages at midnight, I find humor that our local farmers market seemingly makes more Web changes in a week than the company I work for. Then there are Facebook and Twitter updates and this year we were lucky to convince the local newspaper to provide space for a weekly column. So, now I am a news reporter as well. Though, I have to admit, it’s been fun to interview our farms and vendors and it’s pretty cool to see my work in print. I am also on the market’s board of directors – another monthly meeting on the schedule.  I so love being an integral part of a meaningful organization and it has given me a connection with my town that didn’t exist for the first four years living here. But I know my husband will agree that it has affected the home balance. My house is not as organized as I like. Friday nights are spent in front of our computers rather than cozying on the couch with a rented movie. I read a lot less than in the past (and watch less TV – a good thing I suppose).  I try not to let it affect my time with my daughter but there are times I’ve heard myself say, “I’ll play in a minute honey when I’m done with this.”

So how do others strike this balance? For me, I’m counting down the days to the end of October when the market slows down. Except now I hear rumblings of a winter market – ugh!

— Cooking Mom

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