I often see educators ask if they can be both a paid professional and a volunteer in their local babywearing groups. They want to know if a new role changes the old one, if they should step away from one or the other, and if they stay how do they make it work!
I am the current president and a founding member of my local BWI chapter, and I have been working as a paid educator for several years in various capacities from private consults, to sales, brand ambassador work, and consulting with manufacturers on instruction manuals and marketing materials. These are some steps that I have taken to balancing all of my different roles!
When I'm Volunteering!
When I am wearing my volunteer babywearing educator hat, that is exactly what I am. I don't talk about owning my own private business or that I see families and caregivers for money outside of a meeting. If I am asked directly about private consults I'll typically say "Yes I do offer them, if you would like more information please catch me after the meeting and I can provide you with my information."
I am often asked if there are things that I teach at consults that I don't teach at meetings. The honest answer is yes, there are some things that I don't typically teach at a meeting, but not because I don't want to share the info without being paid! Often at the local meetings there are many distractions that can make focusing on smaller details more difficult, sometimes the rooms can be loud because there are so many people and children enjoying conversations with each other, and it is not often that I am able to spend more than a few minutes alone with a caregiver and when this is the case it may not be appropriate to teach a specific carry or technique. If that is the case I may say "I'm sorry I can't teach you/help you with this specific need right now because of the environment of today's meeting. We can try again next meeting and see if it is a calmer environement or I can provide you with some information about private educators in the area that can help you with this." If that next meeting is indeed a more suitable environment, then I of course will help them with that need there!
If meeting with a private educator is their ideal solution then I link them to our Vendors and Private Educators document in our group. This way all of the private educators in our area receive equal exposure, the caregiver gets to choose which of those educators will best suit their needs, and it doesn't make it seem as though I am going to meetings with the intention of handing out my business cards!
Because I do often represent different brands through sales or brand ambassador work, I take extra care when giving advice when answering "what brand should I buy?". When someone asks this question I do want to mention the brands I work with when it's a carrier that meets that caregiver's needs, because I want the brands to be successful, but I am careful to be sure that I mention and praise two or more brands that make a similar product. I want to make sure that I am presenting a caregiver with multiple options so they can make an informed decision on what is best for their situation! (This portion is also something I use when working in a private consultation environment!)
When I'm Being Paid
When I am working as a paid educator, especially in my local private consults and classes, I do make it clear that I am there working as my business and not on behalf of another organization. It's rare that I have a client that knows me from the local babywearing community, but it has happened in the past so I want to insure there is no confusion on which hat I am wearing.
I don't talk much about the volunteer work that I do, but I do talk up the local group! Part of my job is providing caregivers with all of the resources that they might need and babywearing groups can be great for those who do want to be a part of a community!
One of the most important components to making this work is communication! There will be times when you run into grey areas, where it might be hard to decide which hat should be worn for a circumstance or situation and this is where having open lines of communication with other educators (both paid and volunteer) and group leaders can really be beneficial. It's always nice to be able to have someone that you can ask "would I be crossing a line here" and receive an honest response!
I hope this has been helpful for those who are beginning to entire the world of working and volunteering. Feel free to comment below if you have questions about what I might do in a specific scenario!