Avoiding Volunteer Burnout…Especially at This Time of Year

Volunteer (v.): to do something, especially for other people or for an organization, willingly and without being forced or paid to do it.

As moms, we wear many hats… we are wives, sisters, daughters, friends, employees, and quite often, volunteers. And, for many of us, the holiday season is the Super Bowl of our volunteering efforts. We are room mom’ing our hearts out, planning neighborhood and family parties, and organizing a slew of gifts. Then there are the clothes and toy drives, local non-profit and faith-based initiatives, and PTO-sponsored holiday events. Someone needs to lend a hand to “all the things,” and we women are the very best at taking it all on. 

Oh, but there’s a flip side. ‘Tis the season to also get BURNED OUT. 

I may not know you personally, but I do know this: if you’re serving your community in any capacity, you are doing so with no strings attached. You are throwing your heart and your time into your role selflessly. In fact, many of you have likely stepped up when others were not willing to do so. Raise your hand if you were actually begged by another adult person to take on your volunteer position…because no one else would do it

Volunteering feels GOOD. You love giving back. It’s worthwhile work we’re diving into. But, there’s a delicate balance at play here. And, it’s one that’s incredibly tricky to navigate, especially this time of year. How do we continue to do all of the good things, while not getting so overwhelmed or discouraged that we lose ourselves in it all? 

This season, it’s all about perspective. And, if you are knee-deep right about now, here are a few things to remember that will keep your head and heart in a good place.  

Priorities are priorities. Yes, your volunteer job is important, but real-life will and should always trump the coat drive and Christmas pageant. You are juggling critical responsibilities, such as your family and a job {for which you do get paid}. There are incredibly consequential issues floating around all of our orbits. A little glitch with the elementary school holiday shop is not the end of the world, and should not be considered such. We all want to do a stellar job at whatever we do, but let’s remember that little problems are indeed little problems, even when they feel big at the moment. 

Be open to improvement, but don’t get derailed by criticism. As I mentioned earlier, you most likely did not have to fight other people to obtain your volunteer position. If someone chooses to complain about how you’re managing your role, they should be just as willing to jump on in and lend you a hand. And, if they aren’t following up their critique with an offer to help, please don’t allow that person’s criticism to settle in your heart. I know from experience how discouraging it feels to hear negative feedback when you are doing the very best you can while serving others. But, remember that while there legitimately may be room for improvement, YOU are the one who has selflessly stepped up. Let the ugly stuff roll off your back!

Remember your why. Are you making your school, religious environment, or community a better place? Are you pouring into others’ lives in a way that is truly impactful? If you’ve answered “yes,” then you’ve got your why. Stay there. Focus on that. It’s totally cliche, but I truly believe that we all have a purpose. We all have special talents and opportunities that are ours alone. When we leverage those unique gifts, we are doing exactly what we were designed to do in this world. If you are making a difference, then you are absolutely where you need to be. 

To all the volunteering mamas out there, THANK YOU. Thank you for giving of yourself, particularly at this crazy busy time of year when we are all moving in a million different directions. What you’re doing does matter. And, your little piece of real estate wouldn’t be the same without you!

What are your tips for avoiding volunteer burnout, especially around the holidays? Please comment below – we’d love to hear from you!


  1. Yes! This! So important to remember this…especially during the time of year we are asked to do ALL THE THINGS! Thank you!

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