Working Moms Should Cut Corners When It Comes to Their Kids’ School Functions

parent school helpIn New York at tony private schools, it has apparently become der rigeur for parents to send nannies to do their parental duties once every few weeks. Things like "safety patrol" and bake sales that parents have traditionally taken care of are now being passed off to the hired help. Some parents are mad, but I say, good on them.

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.

Go when it matters and delegate when it doesn't! With both of my children, I did co-op preschools. One was when I was a stay at home mom and the other was when I was working part time. I went back to work full time during that last year and it was so overwhelming. My husband and I managed it, but we promised ourselves we would never do that again.

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?



school lunch, kid activities


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paigeR11 paigeR11

Yeah...I get it.  You are busy.  But you prioritize what is maybe I don't get to watch every episode of the Real Housewives but I sure as heck support my daughter's school and her education.

Knitt... KnittyTina

Oh yeah, I totally get this.  This is a tough one.  Both my husband and I worked demanding jobs during my daughter's preschool year and I tried to volunteer as much as possible, but it sometimes got a bit overwhelming.  A few times, I took vacation days to help out with an event, and then when I got there I found out that the event had been cancelled!  So, I was out a few precious vacation days and with kids, I needed all those days to count. 

Nowadays, I tell my daughter that I can't do it all and will try my best. 


Kaela Wheeler

Totally makes sense! If you're paying for a nanny why not have them do the tedious volunteering? I'd probably want to be with my kid for things like field trips or awards, but for cross walk duty? Definitely prioritizing work over that.

Venae Venae

Yeah, kids are a total pain in the ass.......wonder why you even had them.

Alacia Alacia

Venae, way to fan the flames of the Mommy Wars.  If a person works in a professional job, they have 2-4 weeks vacation per year.  Kids are off school (for school vacations) far more than that, even if you send them to camp.  I agree with the poster who said, "every day counts".  If you work in a non-professional capacity, you may not even get paid days off, and volunteering at your child's school may mean loss of income that your family can't afford.

When you have kids, and calculate what you can/can't afford, no one projects forward 5-10 years and figures in the demands of school volunteering.  If you have multiple kids in multiples schools, the volunteering requests are a full-time job all by themselves.

If you work, and pay a nanny/housekeeper, and choose to send them in your stead, why is that bad?  Especially if you are still there when it counts, like for school plays or trips.  Is it better to just say "no", and the school has a shortage of help?

I currently stay home with my kids (since being laid off last August), but it is not financially sustainable for our family.  I will eventually return to work, and at that time, my volunteering will be minimal, at best.  We all try hard (no matter whether we stay home or work).  We all do our best for our kids, the best we know how.  Why fan the flames?  Make peace with your own choices, and live-and-let-live.

jalaz77 jalaz77

Paige and Venae-read the article again and you may not sound so bitter. I would love the extra hands, more for cleaning our house and cooking for us. Seriously, if I can get rid of the little stuff that pulls me away from the kids I would in a damn second. I even wish I had someone to drive kids to school and back. It would be much easier as we have 4 kids now, the youngest is a newborn. For the record I would not go to a school that FORCED me to sign something stating I wouldn't delegate, basically that's what they want. No way. I work FT, thankfully it's only 3/12 hr shifts a week but those days off I have a toddler and a newborn at home (when I am off maternity leave). I know when I was in school parents didn't have to be this involved and I went to a private school. My parents were there for sports, our shows, help sell a few things a year, p/t they want more of your time, this day and age there isn't the time there was once was as women are also carreer women AND mothers.

fave82 fave82

My kids are still young and havent started school yet, so maybe Im just not understanding.... But isn't volunteering meant to be VOLUNTARY? Seriously, Im not being a smartass. Can't you just say no when you're unavailable ???

MamaT... MamaTo2b2g

You know, when I first read this I felt like Venae does. But then I got to thinking, as long as you make the effort to be there for the important stuff, you're doing great. I have 4 kids. There have been times when I've had to be several places at once for my kids' schools. Grandma would go to one in my place. We're only human, we can only do what we can do.

nrouette nrouette

I am a single working mom of four, & if I didn't have other parents, my mom, & friends willing to help out, my kids wouldn't get to enjoy the extras. Soccer, after-school activities, & playdates. I am humbled &thankful for "the village" that enables us to enjoy the fun things in life :-)

MamaT... MamaTo2b2g

In fact, just tonight my son has a baseball game and my husband has a business dinner which we are both expected to attend. So grandma and grandpa will be going to the game. My husband is assistant coach and we have never missed a game til tonight. It happens.

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