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For me, Halloween always marked the beginning of The Mom Guilt Season.

I’d stagger from guilt over costumes that came from the Internet instead of a sewing machine (as if I owned one!) to guilt over Trader Joe’s pre-fab cranberry sauce and gravy at Thanksgiving to guilt over lacking the time to find the perfect picture for the perfect holiday cards. So. Much. Guilt.

My kids are older now, but the Mom Guilt gets passed on from Gen X to Millennials to Gen Z’ers, it seems.

What mom isn’t juggling a million things? Yet feel like we should be doing more?

Well, it turns out that juggling – child care, work in or outside the home, education, community involvement – is helping more than your family. Seriously.

Research shows the most involved volunteers are working moms of elementary schoolers.  Crazy, right? But I remember that my stints in my daughter’s kindergarten classroom were mostly spent helping a few wiggly boys practice their pre-reading skills in a quiet, comfy space. (My other child was a wiggly boy, so I had a few tricks.)

The connections we make when we volunteer are only one way that busy moms are making life better.

Making life better for our kids benefits other kids. And being a good mom impacts the community. Although medical care is important, things like the quality of our schools, stable housing, access to good jobs with fair pay and the safety of our neighborhoods can keep us healthy. Let’s let GO of that Mom Guilt. Everything you’re doing right now is making your community healthier.

So pat yourself on the back. And enjoy that cup of coffee … even if it’s getting cold now.

And know that you’re not alone in this. United Way and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation work with people and organizations every day to help our communities become stronger and healthier.

Check out this inspiring story to see how moms and others in rural Oregon are making their community healthier by boosting graduation rates, revitalizing downtown and reducing crime.  Now, they’re working to get more fresh food to more people, improve transportation and check children’s tobacco use. Or watch this video to see how that community and three others recognized by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation are involving people like you.  If you want to do more, hook up with your local United Way.

Inspired by what you read? Change starts with you. Take action today to make a difference in your community.

GIVEADVOCATEVOLUNTEER