Hello, my name is Shannen, and I have an addiction. The addiction I have is mainly seen in mothers, and in higher rates of stay at home moms. I don’t know of any cure or treatment, so our only hope is pure determination and self control.
You see, I’m admitting my addiction to volunteering and over scheduling myself. When I was 19, or in my early 20’s, I could get away with it because four hours of sleep a night was enough. Now that 30 is right around the corner, I’m learning I can’t get away with that any more.
For me, it all began with a need. I needed to finish school so I wouldn’t be another teen mom statistic… that required some hard work and dedication with a child and while working. Then I got a supervisor job in the fast food industry and felt my brain melting away, so I went to college while working close to full time. Now married and in a decent job in middle management at an Internet company, I got laid off and eventually decided to stay home and homeschool. What does this mean? I have time! Masjid needs someone to do some data entry? Sure! Need someone to teach a class on computers? I can do that! Join the speaker’s training team? Sounds like fun!
Sound familiar? Have a hard time saying no to volunteer requests, or feel compelled to help everyone around you? It seems all too common, and I’m not sure why. Do we feel we need to validate our importance by completing more tasks than just taking care of our home and family? My most compelling thought is that the organization needs help, whether it is starting new or is in a transition, and without help from someone it fizzles out. How can I stand back and let that happen?
There are some programs my family is in that I have a deep interest in seeing them become successful, or stay successful, but I am now learning that I need to limit how many I deem necessary for this. Is it worth shushing my kids every other day because I need to get through my emails? Is it worth the cold cereal dinners because I’m not home and haven’t had time to think about dinner for everyone else? I woke up this morning sick for the second time in a couple months, and I normally don’t get sick twice in a year! I’m sure the drive through dinners and junk food to stay awake is not helping my immune system stay on top of everything.
It takes time to realize how the addiction causes layers of suffering, and noticing that your family is becoming more sad about your absence than proud of your accomplishments. Many of us decided to stay home because we thought it was best for our family, and for their future; so why aren’t we staying home?