This New York Times article talks about frazzled moms fighting back against schools’ increasing demands for parent hours devoted to fundraising activities and school events. With ever-shrinking resources, there is no doubt parents are tasked with more duties at school – not to mention longer lists of things parents must buy to supplement meager classroom budgets. But are parents – OK, usually moms – really cutting back their volunteer hours at school? Of that, I’m not so sure.
At my daughter’s school, there is a group of committed, core volunteers. I see their names on every list. Some people have a penchant for volunteerism and one assumes these are things the volunteers enjoy doing – or want to do. Personally, I choose to limit my volunteer hours to the things that I find personally enriching and that I believe have an impact on the kids. I want to be in the classroom, getting to know the students and helping them with literacy. I want my daughter to see me in her room (even though she often does her best to hide her pleasure at seeing me). If I am in the mood, I might volunteer to work in the art room during the annual Sock Hop fundraiser, or help decorate. But if I’m not in the mood, I don’t. And I don’t have guilt. I am a working mom, and I am also very aware of what happens to me when I take on too much – and it isn’t pretty. But my “too much” might be dramatically different from another person’s breaking point.
I feel good about my own personal level of involvement. It’s neither too much nor too little – for me. And I work to keep it that way – by ignoring many e-mails that come my way asking for help with school functions.
I have no idea if the moms, whose names surface in every school e-mail, are as frazzled as those interviewed in this New York Times article. If they are, then I suggest they take a pass on the next event and let someone else step up to the plate. They could try to ask me. Depending on the day or my mood, I might just say, “yes.”