I posted a status update on Facebook yesterday lamenting at how overwhelmed I am. I seemed to have volunteered for a lot of big projects in the next six months or so and when I look at them all together, I'm afraid there just isn't enough time in the day. The projects are very varied, and range from personal to professional to kid-oriented. For example:
-Work - I'm the chair of the faculty for our school so I have plenty of work to keep me busy just doing my job
-Pittsburgh Mom -I have so many ideas of things I 'd like to write about and content I'd like to share with you all
-Play it Forward toy drive - The toy drive I helped found last year is in full swing for this year's holiday season.
-Media Association of Pittsburgh - A local organization that I belong to has asked me to be the Vice President of their Education Committee and plan their monthly speaker series
-Leadership Pittsburgh - I've signed up to take part in this 9-month program that will help do a community development project in Mount Washington
-Broadcast Educators Association - I agreed to co-chair the student awards for this national competition.
-My kids' school - I've volunteered to go in once a week and help the second grade class practice their reading, along with volunteering for the kindergarten activities and field trips
When I posted my comment about being overwhelmed, I got a lot of great advice and offers of help.
And I also got one comment that got me thinking.
It said "Saying no is a valuable skill."
I thought and thought about that last night and I've come to this conclusion.
Saying Yes is better.
Saying Yes has value. Extreme value. Saying Yes makes you busier, indeed. But saying yes helps children, it helps communities, it helps causes. It makes us feel good about ourselves and makes changes in our community and our world.
I don't think I want to stop saying Yes. I want more people to stop saying No.
I can't tell you the number of times I've sat in meetings or received an email where organizations are basically begging for help. And nobody raises their hand. Then there's me (and others like me) that don't want to see tball canceled, or programs end, or kids not to get toys for Christmas. And I look around the room and realize if I don't raise my hand nobody else might. And the program might end. And that would be a shame. It's so sad to sit in meeting after meeting and have nobody step up to help.
So I slowly, often reluctantly, raise my hand. I always make sure that I'm putting my family first, though, and try not to over commit. I don't want my kids to grow up and not see me because I'm too busy volunteering. They are my first priority.
And I serve on that committee or go into my kid's class or coach that tball team and you know what? It feels wonderful. People appreciate the work. Kids smile. And I feel good inside, knowing I've done my part to help.
I see tremendous value in just sometimes saying Yes.
I can't say yes to everything. I'm not a saint. I sometimes sit quietly in the back and NOT volunteer. If there are other people willing to help, I often don't get involved. I'm not serving on my kids PTO right now. I'm not a CCD teacher. I didn't volunteer to coach soccer. I can't do it all. But I try to say Yes when I can. When nobody else will.
The point I'm making is that for those of you that do say Yes, be proud. It's important. And people appreciate it.
I try to always thank those people when I have the chance. Because I know how hard it is. I know how much work it takes. I know sometimes I'd rather be sitting on my couch, too. But they stepped up, and for that I'm thankful.
I don't want people to start saying NO.
I want more people to start saying YES. There's such great value in saying Yes.
So they next time they need someone to lead the bake sale, or the cub scout troop, or join the township board, or head the next big project at work, try saying Yes. People will thank you. You'll thank yourself.
PittsburghMom is our original, featured blog by Dr. Heather Starr Fiedler. Heather is the mom to two young boys, Matthew (7) and Benjamin (5), an Associate Professor of Multimedia and Chair of Faculty of the School of Communication at Point Park University, the founder and and General Manager of PittsburghMom, and the co-founder of Play it Forward Pittsburgh, an annual children's toy drive. She lives in Indiana Township with her husband Mike and their kids.