Cookies. Candy . Outgrown toys. Plenty of donations. I’m sure most of you have done at least one and some have done them all.

Kids love to sell stuff, and everyone loves a yard sale.

As a parent, you’re constantly asked  to help out at your kids’ school,  work a fundraising sale, be a classroom parent, Scout parent or other kid activities. Parents who volunteer are what make some activities happen at all. But with so many requests for volunteers at schools, community events, and elsewhere, how can you decide what to say yes to and what to pass up?


1. What motivates you?
Discover exactly why you want to volunteer. And ask yourself “what’s easy for you to  do?”.

2. Don’t say yes to every request
Volunteers are always needed and once word gets around that you did a task well, other requests will follow. But don’t just say yes to a new request without figuring out if you have the time and energy to do so. Otherwise, you’ll resent your yes.

3. Kiss guilt goodbye
You can’t please everyone. If your kid is begging you to chaperone another school field trip, but the last one you volunteered for left you with a splitting headache, explain why you just can’t this time. Take care of your own needs first. There’s no reason to feel guilty about not being able to do what you may have done in the past.

4. Get some help
You don’t have to be stuck doing it all. Ask for help if a volunteer gig is taking up too much of your time.

5. See the small upsides
Keep in mind what you gain from volunteering. Are you meeting other parents or professionals in your community? Helping a group of people or a cause you deeply support? Developing a burgeoning interest for one of your kids?

6. Set your priorities.
Circumstances change, and while you may have a lot of time to donate at one point, you may find yourself slammed with life at another time. Knowing how you feel about your limited time allows you to set your own priorities about what’s important to you and when.


7. Ask yourself: what’s in it for me?

Running sales events has helped me become a better bookkeeper, manage my working time better, and networked more. Volunteering itself proves to be its own reward from the sheer pleasure of giving back.