10 July 2014


I have so many words in my head right now.  They are a jumbled mass keeping me awake at night jostling around in brownian motion.  There are snippets of conversations, emails I have received or written in my head but never sent, information that I form together to make conclusions that may be completely wrong.  I wrangle with these thoughts and eventually come out the other side with a clear head and some decisions.

For the past ten years, no longer than that, I have been a volunteer.  Giving freely of my time to young people in my area who are part of the Scout Association.  I have watched children grow from young children through to adulthood and when I bump into them as adults it always gives me great pleasure to hear what they are doing with themselves.  The time I have given has changed over time, stopping completely when my children were babies.  Lately it has increased, I have not been pushed into this, it has been my choice and I have been happy with this for the most part.  Until I start getting emails from a parent which are frankly, rude.

I worked for ten years with volunteers, I managed them and paid staff.  I had a team of over eight hundred of them (and three paid staff).  Almost all the contact was by letter, phone calls or emails with the odd occasion face to face.  It was so important to use the correct language, as it is in contact with anyone, but with volunteers it doesn't mater how irritating or rude they are you must ensure that they always feel valued and included.  The data protection act meant that anything your wrote about them they could ask to look at we had to keep our opinions to ourself and never write them down!  The emails I have recently received would have been totally unacceptable in that organisation, I would not have lost my job but, there would have been serious repercussions.

So I need to make a decision, as added to this I am feeling somewhat taken advantage of.  I had been asked to organise something by one of the Leaders who it now transpires will not be present and has known for weeks they wouldn't be.  I am happy to organise stuff but I am not happy with the fact they have waited until this week to inform me, they had led me to believe they would be there and the rude email is as a direct result of their interfering with incorrect information with something I had already sorted out.  I have now made my decision and I know it will be unexpected, it is to me too, but I am happy with it and feeling very relieved.

It's easy to not notice small changes.  Children change every month, sometimes every week or even by day.  If we look away we miss them.  There are so many distractions to keep our attention elsewhere but when these distractions increase slowly they can become so absorbed into our lives that we don't notice.  It is as if it has always been so.  I am too distracted at the moment and my precious time with my children feels like it is shoehorned in between organising things for others.  I have decided no more.  My children and my family come first.  Saying no is hard, it can make us feel bad about it, we are letting people down.  But if I continue to say yes I know that I am letting my children down and that is not what I want.

Now I just need to sort out some of the words that have been said to me by friends and make sense of the pictures they have given me and stop the dancing going on in my head......


  1. Such decisions are always difficult but you will surely feel some sort of peace now that you have reached yurs. It is all to easy to become a doormat and to be taken advantage of and when one is a volunteer it is even more galling. You will soon have more time to give to your children who naturally must be your first priority and at some later stage you will probably find another volunteer role should you so wish. A change is often a good thing. Sleep well now that your decision has been made!

  2. Sorry to hear that you have been having a bad time with something that you have given so much energy too. There is no excuse for rudeness, being rude never gets anyone anywhere.

    I am glad you feel you have a made a decision that is best for you. You are right spending time with your family will always come first and you shouldn't spend your time puttung energy into things that are not appreciated.

    I can relate to the words thing. I often have so many monologues running through my head about things that have been said, and things that should have been said. It is often hard to quiet these voices isn't it?

  3. You have given so much, you and those like you are amazing. It is the right decision to step aside now and focus on your family, I know you will miss it, but you have done your part. No doubt you won't miss some elements of it! Such a shame that people are sometimes rude and inconsiderate. A friend of mine ran Rainbows for a while. The children and parents were wonderful, but some in the organisation used her rather. In the end she stopped volunteering there as well. Well done for all you have done in the past, I am always so grateful to people who give up their time to run these things. I know it always involves far far more than meets the eye. CJ xx

  4. I volunteered until recently and enjoyed it and felt appreciated. But things started to get too busy and I stepped aside. I'm glad I did. Family had to come first; lots more volunteers have since signed up so all ended well.
    You've picked up valuable skills and experience.
    As for the non-stop dialogue in your head... Me too. Remember that sleep is valuable and you must take care of yourself if you're going to be able to take care of others.
    Sarah :)

  5. So sorry to read this, it saddens me that you are on the receiving end of external, unwarranted hassle. Your comments about the kids are a timely one for me and a reminder for me to truly appreciate them, something that I am struggling with given my current situation.

    Big hugs to you

    San xxx

  6. so sorry you were taken advantage of, and sent rude emails. I think some parents lose sight of the fact that these organizations are run by volunteers, but even if you were paid there would be no excuse for rudeness. enjoy the extra time you now have with your family x

  7. Yes, our children, our families always come first and it is remarkable how, when we look at this priority in light of decisions we must make, how clear and simple our lives can be to honour that. Not always easy, but clear. Good for you for saying "no" to the activities that ultimately take away from your sense of peace and your family's. xo


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