When my girls were young, and I spent a lot of time with my friend Shannon, Derek would occasionally help us practice saying no. I think he saw and heard how busy we were, and knew that we were inclined to sign every volunteer sheet that came by. I have a lot of friends and family who have this same inclination, and who accomplish many good things. I have been known to feel guilt if I pass by a sign up sheet without adding my name to it, but I have learned that sometimes it really is okay to do that. Sometimes saying no is the right thing to do.
I have learned, before signing up to help with something, or volunteering, that I should think about it in relation to my priorities. For example, will saying yes take me away from my home at times where I feel it is important that I am present? I like to be home when my kids are going and coming. If saying yes takes me away at those times then I'm more inclined to say no -- depending on if it is a one time thing, or a regular thing that I am agreeing to.
I have even learned to take into consideration what I like to do. I have been a room mother several times and I finally figured out that I really hate that job. Even after I knew this, I agreed one more time because nobody else would do it, but I avoid being the room mom if possible. I do like to help though, and so I decide in what ways and at what times I can help at school, and I am happier. I don't mind helping with parties, and I love to help kids read, or spell, or write, or even do math (as long as it's pretty basic math).
As with everything, there needs to be a balance. If I say yes to every opportunity to help, I get frantically busy, tired, and cranky. If I don't say yes enough, then I miss out on opportunities to make a positive difference, feel guilty, and not very useful. Not everything that I agree to do needs to match my schedule perfectly and be something I like to do, but I have learned that it is okay to consider those things because when I'm not frantically busy, tired, and cranky I am obviously happier, and that helps my family to be happier too.