If and when the modern mother chooses to leave the paying workforce she will eventually be asked to participate in a myriad of "volunteer" activities. Some modern mothers pick one or two causes in which they have a true interest. Others collect committee and board memberships like guard rings. No matter how many good efforts the well mannered mother supports, she knows how to manage these commitments. She shows up on time, does what she says she will do when she says she will do it, keeps meetings efficient (this can mean learning how to politely shut someone up), and ends the meeting on time.
Initially, when just starting out in the fascinating world of unpaid work, it is quite flattering to be asked to be on a committee or take a leadership role on volunteer projects. It is essential that the well mannered mother stop and reflect before saying yes to these requests. Our favorite well mannered response when asked to do anything is “Thank you. I am so flattered that you thought of me. Please let me consider this tonight and I will get back to you tomorrow morning.” This gives the well mannered mother time to consider how and if this commitment fits into her already busy life. Of course she must then respond to the requestor as early as possible the following morning. The well mannered mother never leaves someone hanging - it is tacky.
Yet if the well mannered mother discovers she has, despite her best due diligence, accepted a place on a half-baked committee she must immediately call the chair person and say something like “Now that I have a better sense of the scope of this project I am afraid I have over committed myself and think it best that I withdraw at this point.” The last thing any mother needs in these hectic times are a bunch of disorganized people wasting her time. Working on a well run committee is an excellent way for a modern mother to keep her mind and resume sharp while giving back to the community. And last but not least, for the fashion conscious well mannered modern mother, committee work is an excellent excuse to dress up a bit and look slightly corporate. Think Mad Men.