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?



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