When I told a friend that I was starting a blog about PTA issues and the ever-increasing need for parental involvement in schools, she immediately pointed me towards Frazzled Parents Push Back Against Volunteering, published in the New York Times in December 2010. I'd seen it, of course... while I no longer read the NYT from cover to cover, my parents still do. My mom thought of me immediately when she read it, and sent me the link.
The article profiles parents who burned out on school volunteering, and dropped out. Nothing too earth-shattering, but it does shine a light on the large number of parent-led activities that schools have on their calendars. I will cover that more in future posts.
PTA duties keep me pretty busy, but I don't feel burned out yet. And that's because a wise teacher at the school said to me "there are so many things that need to be done here. Choose the things you're interested in and stay away from the things that don't interest you."
This year I organized the school's holiday performance. I chose music, helped 2nd-graders write a skit, and helped two classes of kindergartners make hats to wear on stage. I created the program and coordinated the evening's festivities. I recruited an incredibly talented musician-parent to accompany our kids' classes, and to emcee (thanks, honey!). It was a lot of work, and essentially took over my life for the weeks between Thanksgiving and mid-December. But you know what? I loved every minute of it. Kids + music = Joy. Plain and simple. As soon as we got home from this year's performance, I started thinking about what songs we'd do next year.
Thanks to my teacher friend, I have a pretty clear idea of what volunteer activities I don't like and therefore won't do:
1) I won't work at any evening event in our school's multipurpose room (except our holiday performance!). It's loud, and my kids are usually overtired and overstimulated and want to leave early.
2) I won't volunteer to watch kids on the yard at recess. I just hate it and I won't do it.
3) I'm learning to say no to field trips and bringing in treats for parties. We already have enough chaperones and lord knows, the kids have way more than enough access to sweets.
I'm only two and a half years in. Check back with me in a few more years... I hope I'm still involved, but hopefully relieved of making 50 construction-paper holiday hats.