DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a mother with two children under 5 years old. My husband and I live in a small community, and I feel terrible because I do not have the energy to volunteer at church or participate on any of the committees that are in my town. When asked to help, I often decline. I do read to the preschoolers once a month at the library. I want to do more for my community, but I have the two children to take care of. What can I do in the meantime? -- A Heart to Help, Gallup, N.M.
DEAR A HEART TO HELP: When children are small, the job of a parent is to care for them, if not also to work a job. You should not feel bad because you are focused on caring for your children. That is your primary responsibility. It sounds like you have found at least one activity, the monthly reading, that allows you to contribute to your community. Be satisfied with that level of volunteering for now.
As your children grow up, you can widen your prospects and still care for them by finding volunteer opportunities that can include your children. Talk to any moms that you meet at the library or elsewhere to learn what types of things they do. You will discover what makes sense for you that also fits within your schedule.