In Defense of the Pinterest Mom vs. I'm Not Pinterested | PTA Edition
Welcome back to our recurring column, where Trish and Kristina prove that you can feel the exact opposite about volunteering at your kids' school and still remain great friends. Authors' Note: No matter which side of the volunteer aisle you’re on, we hope you keep the following in mind: Do what works for you; there’s no right or wrong way.
Time. We can’t get it back, and no matter how we spend it there will undoubtedly be those who think we’re doling it out all wrong. One of the strongest opinions on this topic comes from within that special circle of amazing people we like to call moms. Working moms. Stay-at-home moms. Work-from-home moms. All of you. Regardless of the label you wear, moms of all walks of life will invariably encounter the time suck of time sucks: volunteering at school.
The second round of our “In Defense of the Pinterest Mom vs. I’m Not Pinterested” column was inspired by this hilarious (and brilliant!) school volunteer form that went viral a couple years ago.
In Defense of the Pinterest Mom
It’s arrived. The annual “VIP” sign up form for our kiddos’ school. I’m still not so sure what “VIP” stands for in this context, but my assumption is “Very Important Parent.” I mean, it’s pretty obvious that those who take the time to fill out the form and agree to things like library and lunch duty must be VIPs in the eyes of the school community, let alone their wee ones. But, in all seriousness, one of the things I was waiting for when I became a parent was the day I could join the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) and volunteer at my kids’ school. I couldn’t wait to help organize class parties and collect the money for teacher gifts. In fact, I had begun pinning teacher gift ideas and holiday-themed classroom snacks before my kids could walk.
In the same way I approach opportunities within my professional life, I view being a part of the PTA as a way to “have a seat at the table” or, in this case, a say in whether or not we serve bagels or donuts during teacher appreciation week. As a business owner, I’m fortunate that my office is just 2 miles from our school and that I can sneak away to (wo)man the bouncy house during Field Day or help with the annual school beautification day.
I’ll admit that some of my motivation to be so involved stems from the fact that PTA involvement was never a part of my childhood. I was jealous of my friends who squealed with joy when they’d see their mom in the cafeteria during lunch or when they bragged about the fact that their parent would be our guest reader that day. While I’m certainly not the only kid who didn’t have a PTA mom, there were so many times that it felt that way. I selfishly want to hear those cheers of excitement from my kids when I walk into their classroom to help with the holiday party. I want them to say “MY mommy will be here today!” So, when that VIP sign up sheet arrives each year, I’ll be one of the first to hit submit.
I'm Not Pinterested
My daughter is starting Pre-K next month, and I just finished filling out a huge stack of forms the school sent us. Some may groan at the prospect of filling out forms, but my inner nerd just loves it. However, here are two questions on the forms that made me groan.
- Which Parent Committee do you wish to be involved in?
- What talent, training, or knowledge do you have that you’d be willing to share with the school?
Why did I groan? Because both of those questions translate into one thing for me: Time. As a working parent with a two-hour-and-change commute (round trip) and roughly 3 waking hours with my kids per weekday, I have to prioritize my time. At work I’m prioritizing things constantly; so my brain is already wired to handle requests this way.
I have to ask myself: What is more important to me at this moment; what has the most benefits both in the short and long term? And all the things I need (and want) to do in those precious hours between when the kids go to bed and I eventually pass out will win out over Parent Committee items. Every. Time.
Do I sometimes play 20 minutes of Candy Crush before eventually helping my husband with the dishes? Yes. Do I watch Westworld for an hour when I could be emailing other parents and coordinating a school fundraiser? Yes. Would I rather go to sleep at 11:30 PM instead of staying up another hour to bake cupcakes (and decorate them and package them in an adorable box) for a bake sale? Yes. Do those things help me relax and contribute to my overall happiness? Yes.
But do I feel guilty about not being more involved in my daughter’s school? And do I wish I had the time to come in for events in the middle of a workday so I could give her hugs and spend time getting to know her friends and teachers? Yes and yes.
When she gets a little older and if I’m able to find a job with a shorter commute, my prioritization will likely adjust accordingly. But for now, I’ll assuage my guilt for leaving the answers to those questions in the school forms blank by donating the thing that equals time: Money.