How Volunteering Benefits the Stay-at-home Parent
The thought of being a stay at home parent can be exciting, rewarding, and even scary, and those feelings can change as we settle into our new position. Feelings of isolation, worry of losing touch with the job market, and losing our own skills can hang over us. But being at home can be a life changing experience for the better for many reasons, and volunteering can keep you in the social loop, help you pick up more marketable skills, and prevent that gap in the resume once you re-enter the world of paid work.
Once the task and routine of baby are figured out, we might find some idle time--whether physical time, or just the need to be mentally stimulated and challenged. If baby groups, parks, and walks are not cutting it or are not your thing, then volunteering may just be the answer to get you through being at home for a few years.
Most people might think volunteering looks like stocking shelves at the food bank, and it might, if that is what you are into: but it can be so much more. Picking an organization that is near and dear to your heart, that works on issues that you care deeply about can really ignite your passions and give you purpose beyond taking care of the family. It can also provide a real core purpose and meaning, which is good for your life spirit. You are also going to meet people that have the same interests as you and could blossom some lifelong friendships.
Aside from getting to get dressed professionally (or at least out of pajamas!) and talk to people above the age of your children, you can really build your resume for, learn skills, and make excellent contacts in an industry that you might have only dreamed of being a part of. References from professionals in the industry and relevant experiences to add to your resume instead of a gap will keep you more employable... maybe even more so than before.
So where is this volunteer work? It's everywhere! It could be a city committee, a board, or even a local non-government organization. Different scenarios offer different commitments: a committee may meet once a monthly or quarterly. Organizations might have special events a couple times a year, or maybe a local group might need help once a week, and sometimes a lot of the workload can be done at home on your time. You may even be able to take your little ones along, or at least schedule around the times when your partner is home and can take over the house workload so there is no need to pay for care. The organizations you chose to help can be local, or even international! There are all sorts of opportunities and different levels of need. Check the community bulletin boards, ask friends, and think of what has meaning for you.
An extra special bonus—you could get into some pretty cool events and meet some pretty important people, and you can be behind some pretty awesome initiatives in your community.
Volunteering can be what you want it to be, on your schedule, at your commitment level, and about something you really care about. Guaranteed to be much more fulfilling and powerful than you can imagine! Give it a try!
*Originally published October 29, 2016