My fellow parents of multiples club members and I are in the final stretch of planning our huge Family Garage Sale Fundraiser. It’s this Saturday, June 7! These last few months have been keeping me busy. Between volunteering, co-chairing the garage sale, raising our twin girls, blogging, some days, I forget I’m not “working”. When I share with others about what I’m doing, I often hear, “Are you crazy? Where do you have the time, you have twins? For every parent of multiples who works full-time or stays-at-home, we each have our own reasons why we volunteer. The following seven is why this twin mom gives back. Feel free to add yours!
1) To Connect with Other Twin Moms- I’m a mom of twin girls and a 4 year old son. I learned from having my son, you need to keep your old friends, but you’ve got to find other mom friends. Even now with twins, I knew I had to step out of my comfort zone and attend the new mom meeting and even consider joining the local twin club board. Knowing how I am at work and from my experience working in Student Affairs on a college campus, if you don’t plan to attend something like a conference or schedule that lunch meeting with that co-worker, you miss out on the connections you can make. With twins, reading books on having multiples, will only take you so far. You need to hear other parents sharing their stories for you to remember where you need help and the right questions to ask. And you need to make a connection so you have someone you can turn to when you are struggling.
2) To keep practicing my leadership skills-Volunteering for my multiples club has been a huge wake up call to the importance of keeping your mind engaged and your skills in use. To go from working full-time in a career you love to staying home to raise twins and a preschooler, you learn fast that the skills and talents you used at work, you will find ways to use them at home. However, it is hard to explain them. Even though my twins keep me busy, I still needed that “project” to work on, that “meeting” to run to, or that “co-worker” I could email back and forth to. I needed something a person at work could related to. After being home now for a year, I feel much more balanced and not so concerned about taking this time off to be home with the twins.
3) To learn something new from women who work in a different field than me.-In the last four months, I have learned so much about my facilitation skills, how to keep a huge project on task, and met a new group of women all by leading the garage sale planning meetings. For the last 13 years, I have done event planning with community college student leaders and fellow student service staff and administrators. But, when I stepped up to volunteer to be part of the garage sale, I got the chance to work with women who are in corporate social marketing, business and finance, international business, and fellow stay-at-home moms. It is not too often you get to see how other fields of work do things. And to top it off, they are all mothers of multiples.
4) To know why I want to return to work- These last 6 months of volunteering for my twin club has been a lot of fun. I forgot how much I enjoy planning events. How I love connecting people and keeping us all on task. I love learning people’s strengths and making sure we are using them. Reminds me why I want to return to work. Then on those days when I feel lonely and I miss that connection you get when you work in an office or on a campus, volunteering reminds me to not worry, I’m still needed. All I need to do is think about the next club board meeting coming up or that email that needs to be sent and I start to feel that sense of purpose I used to feel when I worked. I have also been inspired to think outside the box and be more open to where my next place of work will be.
5) You might discover a strength you never thought you had-Before volunteering, I only knew my strengths in the context of “work”. I was used to how my students worked with me and how my co-workers saw me. But to have this chance to work with women who I have never worked with before, who did not know me either, I soon learned fast how to lead being the new person in a group. I discovered that I was the kind of leader who respected the group’s history and how they did things. I let them guide me on what they wanted to keep regarding the garage sale and what they wanted to improve. I listened before I directed. Now, I feel even more confident that when I take on a leadership role at the next place I work, I will know how to maneuver the way that works best for the team.
6) It Can be a Mom’s Night Out-It might sound crazy, but this stay-at-home mother of multiples volunteers so she can have a mom’s night out. I know, I know, you think a board meeting is a night out? Hey, we have food and wine, laugh and get a lot of business done. The club also plans real mom nights out that don’t include club stuff. The important thing to remember is you need breaks and you need breaks that include seeing other parents of multiples. Taking care of two babies at once or even three babies is a lot of work and there are few people out there that get it. I mean really get it when you say, they are not taking naps at the same time. Or the teacher can’t tell them apart. It is also so important to remember who you were before you had kids and who you are when you are not around kids. Give yourself that night out and if you need a reason, like volunteering, then do it.
7) It Feels Good to Give Back-How can you add one more thing to your plate? How can you even find the energy? This coming weekend, we have a huge amount of club members and non-club members volunteering at our Garage Sale Fundraiser (75+ people selling plus a huge outreach opportunity for families in need. They get to shop for free!) and I’m super excited for them. When you volunteer, maybe it is for one event at your kid’s school or your twin club, something happens and in that moment, you feel good. You might run into someone who is also a twin mom and you start to share stories and you realize you are not alone. You realize that your kid is not the only kid out there that is a picky eater. Or you realize that it is still really tough for a lot of families out there, even though the economy is turning around.
If you are thinking about volunteering, I encourage you to talk to your spouse or partner if they could watch the kids so you can attend the next twin club meeting or work a shift at an upcoming event. Maybe, volunteering could be making a meal for a family who just had twins or participating at an upcoming event. Whatever you are drawn to, do what makes you happy and where you can show your strengths. And if you have another reason why you volunteer, share it. I would love to hear from you.