Work/Life balance and finding time to give back to your community can be a challenge.
In 2020, when I became a new mom, I found it even harder to balance all the things I enjoy as an individual. As a new parent, it’s difficult to take care of your basic needs (remembering to eat or shower!), let alone considering commitments outside of your family unit. Philanthropy has always been a passion of mine, so I made a conscious decision to figure out how I would incorporate it into my life in a healthy way. Here are a few key tips that have helped me to balance two important priorities; continue being a great mom while still being intentionally engaged in my community:
- Choosing what’s right for you and your family. For many years, I loved helping whenever and wherever I could. I would volunteer at a local organization for a few hours during the week while also helping out on larger projects on my weekends. But now, since I spend a lot of my time caring for a tiny human, I knew I had to narrow my commitments and focus on the things that bring me the most joy. For me, it’s youth mentorship. I choose to volunteer as an adult mentor with Youth Leadership Institute, where I help plan experience days for high school students by exposing them to community and leadership principles. And I continue to support Big Brother Big Sisters of Central Iowa as a “Big.” And despite the horrors and hardships of thee past few years, there is a silver lining in the fact that I've gotten many opportunities to volunteer from home via video; all while snuggling my little one. I’m still contributing to my community and I don’t always have to miss out at home!
- "Me Time" is Important. I have to remind myself that taking this time to volunteer is a priority. I see it as a part of my “me time”. I’m energized by giving back and need it to feel complete. Wellness is not just physical, a person needs to fill their cup and different areas. According to the Six Dimensions of Wellness, areas like Social or Spiritual wellness are just as important. This perspective not only keeps me accountable to myself, but also to the organizations I choose to serve.
- Support System. It’s always helpful for someone to have your back, right? Serving your community is no different. I am so grateful to have family and friends who encourage me and believe in what I’m doing in my community. Sometimes it’s my spouse who reminds me that I should go to things even when I’m feeling indecisive. Other times it’s my mother offering to babysit, or my sister joining me at an event. Find your tribe who consistently roots for you and supports you in your activities!
- Give Yourself Some Grace. This tip has helped me in all aspects of my life; work, relationships, philanthropy, health goals, etc. You can’t always do all the things, and that’s OK. Life happens— illness, you’re overwhelmed, or you just don’t want to. It’s all OK. Sometimes you need a break and giving yourself the grace to do so is key. Trust me, I don’t take my commitments to other people lightly – it is very important to me, but I also acknowledge the responsibility I have to take care of myself. Do remember to communicate with those whom are affected by your absence and offer your help when you are ready.
Motherhood has been the most exhausting yet rewarding ride of my life. The first year was a journey to get back to myself and the things I enjoy. My son became one of my reasons why I want to give back and volunteer in my community. The things I have gained through giving back are values I hope to instill in him. Remember, you’re not just a mom, dad or caregiver—you’re you too. Do what makes you happy, and pour that back into your community. Cheers to 2022!