How to Avoid Volunteering and Still Look Like a Good Mom

Big Kid 22

avoid volunteering and look like a good momHave you seen your school PTA sign up sheet yet? Joined a committee or three? If you have, you may be dreading the chirpy emails and notes left in backpacks that call you to action. If you haven't, you may be ducking your head in shame as the other moms look at you with disdain as you scoot out the door instead of hanging out to monitor the hall.

If you're a full-time working mom, have another child at home, or just have too much on your home life plate -- volunteering at your child's school can be nearly impossible. So how do you avoid the call of the PTA, while still looking like you give a damn?

Here are three solid methods:

Go to Every Other PTA Meeting

Rather than showing up at every meeting and declining a committee, show up regularly, but not reliably. This shows that you have too much on your plate, but you are interested in doing what you can. Which is nothing.

Go Big on the Holidays

Make sure you know exactly how many kids, teachers, and aides spend time in your child's classroom and get their names as well. So when Valentine's Day comes around you've got a personalized card for each and every body. For your child's birthday, make plenty of cupcakes so the other home room teachers can sneak in and grab one, and drop off a Halloween treat in everyone's bag. Yes, this is like bribery. And yes, everyone will have warm fuzzy feelings towards you even if they don't see you any other time of year.

Prepare for the Parent/Teacher Conference as if It Were the SATs

Before you have the sit-downs with your child's teacher, do your homework. Make sure you know what areas are most challenging and most delightful for your child. Talk to your child about what they like about your teacher, and be sure and bring it up. Ask your child's teacher what you can be doing at home to facilitate a more effective learning environment. And for Pete's sake, show up at least five minutes early for the conference, and make sure both parents are in attendance.

Do you volunteer at your child's school, or avoid it all costs?


Image via enviziondotnet/Flickr

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I do volunteer,  but to my comfort level.  I figure if I am volunteering and not happy about it,  why do it?  I do make a point of doing several things throughout the year,  but I am not one of the parents that is up there every single day.  There is too much drama that goes on when you get really involved.  I am still pretty active,  but like I said,  to MY comfort level.

scien... science_spot

I don't agree with showing up to the PTA meetings and doing nothing else.  They don't need help sitting watching people talk at a meeting.... they need help with the ACTION ITEMS from the meetings.  So take that 5 hours you would spend at the meetings and do something useful on a committee ONE day, for up to five hours.  It's one day off work or out of the house, you will actually SEE your child during this time and you won't stick out as the lady who does nothing.

I volunteer often with my child's school and class, even though I work outside the home full time (and then some).  I am just very selective with what I volunteer for (easy, fast things that I am good at) and plan them in advance.


LoriA... LoriAnn87

My son will be starting preschool in Dec and I will try to volunteer as much as I can.

nonmember avatar Kim

I take volunteering for my daughter's school very seriously, and make it a priority to make time for it. The work I do isn't to make the annoying, chirpy people who send the emails happy, but to show the teachers who help grow my child's mind and who take over where I leave off that I value the work that they do. And I take the work that the PA/PTA does seriously, as the money raised can pay for that teacher or program that the budget doesn't otherwise cover. Or help close the budget gap so that teachers aren't laid off, or programs cut. An added benefit is that I get a voice in shaping policies. So, I agree: Spend those two hours stuffing envelopes for the big fundraiser, or manning a table at that other fundraiser, etc., instead of being an unproductive seatwarmer at a meeting.

hotic... hoticedcoffee

I would like to volunteer more for my older boy's school, but I can't make it work.  I still have my younger one home the majority of the time (he goes to preschool only 7.5 hours, spread over three days, each week).  My husband is often stuck in late-day meetings that run into the evening, and we don't have a reliable short-notice sitter.  I learned the hard way last year about volunteering - better to not do it at all, than to commit to being somewhere at a certain time and having to bail because my younger one gets sick or my husband got stuck at work.  You catch even more scorn for that, than for doing nothing at all.

nonmember avatar MarcomMom

I have always volunteered as much as possible just so I could know what school was like for my daughter from a more "insider" perspective. Now that I'm going back to work full-time, I'll miss the ability to volunteer as much as I could as a work-at-home mom. So I'm doing things like updating the school website -- stuff that doesn't require me to physically be there.

nonmember avatar Kristina

Mothers who work full-time and are focused on career and children and helping them with homework may not have time to dedicate to the PTA. It's as simple as that, don't feel bad about not volunteering and don't try to kiss up to anyone, how fake.

nonmember avatar Lanette

I agree with Kristina 100%. I also think that it is unfair to criticize parents who are unable to volunteer all of the time. Most mothers wear many hats and they still make their childrens education a first priority even if they don't sit up in parent meetings all of the time.

tonya... tonyalynn

id volunteer if asked to

sodapple sodapple

i love volunteering. if they ask me that is or if no one offers to volunteering.

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