Here, Gemma (pictured above with her son, Leo) writes about her role as a Bristol NCT Volunteer, what it involves and how you could volunteer for Bristol NCT, too.
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12 weeks into parenthood, I’d mastered being able to get washed, dressed and out of the house by midday. Result! On the mum-front, things finally felt like they were starting to click in to place.
However as someone who had previously been working, blogging, reading, writing and generally thinking, my mind felt like it was withering away.
The novelty of spending hours watching Netflix whilst breastfeeding was wearing thin. I was loving being a mummy and it was challenging me in a million different ways – but the lack of mental stimulus was frustrating.
Around this time I received an email from Bristol NCT Branch asking for volunteers. One of the roles was for webmaster, updating the website and social media feeds.
It was related to my work and to my blog bristolfoodie.co.uk. It was something I could do from my phone and around nap times and most importantly it was an opportunity to engage my brain for a worthwhile cause.
I applied for the role (successfully) and have loved it. Volunteering for the NCT has been one of the most fulfilling things I’ve done whilst on maternity leave.
Being able to engage my brain and come up with ideas which can be seen through to fruition has helped to keep me sane on days otherwise filled with milk, baby sensory and renditions of the grand old duke of york.
Best of all its something I can do on my own terms. The local branch is run by mums of babies and young children – just like me.
So they understand that “my mother in law is visiting later so I’m frantically cleaning the house” and “we’ve just had three nights of horrendous sleep” are perfectly valid reasons for why you might be late in picking something up (try using those excuses on your boss at work!)
Volunteering has given me a massive confidence boost. At that twelve-week point I felt my brain was slowly melting. The thought of returning to work months down the line filled me with dread (what if I forget EVERYTHING I’ve ever known outside motherhood?!).
The thing that people don’t realising is that motherhood is so all-encompassing it can flood your mind, you lose sight of your former self, all of that time and experience spent carefully cultivating your former career is swamped by one tiny, beautifully challenging little person.
And it’s frightening. Having your ideas and volunteering efforts recognised by my peers, parents just like me was a massive boost.
In January this year I (nervously) returned to work. I’m in no doubt that the experience and confidence gained in volunteering made this transition a whole lot easier than it would have otherwise been.
And last, but by no means least, volunteering has put me in touch with some truly amazing parents. Our wonderful branch chairs – one who bakes cakes worthy of GBBO and one with a newborn baby just a few months old.
I’ve met women who started volunteering when their babies were just weeks old, women who juggle three jobs and a small child, women who are pregnant, with a toddler and still find the time to volunteer.
Parents who suffer the same sleepless nights that I do, who share the same passion for supporting other parents, and the same drive to be a part of such a worthy cause.
Sarah Norman, Chair of Bristol NCT
Together we run one of the largest NCT branches in the country. Providing free meet ups for parents to attend, baby changing & feeding facilities at events like the Balloon fiesta and two bargainous Nearly New Sales a year. And I’m proud to play a part in this.
Bristol NCT are currently looking for more volunteers. Parents to help us run the branch, to help us raise funds, to support our nearly new sales, and run meet ups for new parents. For more information on volunteering, please check out our vacancies online.
Please visit http://www.nct.org.uk/branches/bristol/getting-involved to find out more about volunteer opportunities at Bristol NCT.