I would never advocate that working parents shirk all responsibilities, but the things that can be outsourced can and should be as much as possible. The reality is that at some schools there are MANY duties expected of parents during the school year and it is for working parents, especially those of us who have 2+ kids.
In the Post piece, one woman defends herself by saying she has three kids in 3 different schools and she makes a good point. Different schools have different schedules and there are some weeks I have had some event or project or field trip or bake sale every single day of the week between my children's schools and I only have two (so far). So why not cut a few corners? Bring napkins instead of homemade muffins to the bake sale! Ask a sitter to step in for school play duty! By all means, do the things that matter, but cut corners when you can.
We have been lucky enough to live close to my daughter's elementary school and to find ways to be involved without major time away from either of our jobs, but if there were a required duty that I could outsource, like a monthly cleaning or any other kind of commitment that did not really involve my kids, I would do so.
Our second co-op school actually had a rule about outsourcing. You had to sign a contract that even the icky jobs -- composting, gardening, monthly clean ups -- were not to be outsourced. Parents had to do it. You signed on and were locked in and believe me, I would not sign anything like that again. It was a lot of work.
I think we can get past a lot of the sanctimonious stuff by just agreeing that every single one us -- rich, poor, working, staying home, fat, thin, whatever -- wants what is best for our kids. Period. End of story. But we all have different ways of getting there.
We would do a lot better to judge less and lend a helping hand more. If I have an extra 15 minutes, I might help that mom struggling with her stroller and send her home even though today was her day to help with after school enrichment sign out. Then I hope if I am on deadline next week and I have to send my sitter in my stead, that she might be that understanding next week, too. We all have our reasons and hiring someone to bake a cake seems a lot less of a big to me than missing a school play. I say we cut where we can so we can always have time for the big things.
How do you cut corners in school volunteering?