But, I think it's good information, so, read it, share it, like it!
It's the beginning of the school year. Ah, the bliss. Ah, the stress.
I know, many of you have already started, but this still matters to YOU.
- With that comes all the chaos of getting the school supplies.
- With that comes the nonsensical bullshit of driving kids 1,000 miles a week in a circle to nowhere to get them where they need to go.
- With that comes the realization that WE signed them up for all of this.
- With that comes the cost of new fill in the blank.
- With that comes the guilt that we are working and can't be AT what we signed them up for and quite possibly, we may not even be around to drive them in the circles.
- With that comes games in the rain, beating sun, snow...
- With that comes dance/karate/scouts/CCD/Hebrew School/whatever else is out there.
- With that comes car washes, a lot of them, for EACH sport.
- With that comes the PTA/PTSA/PTO volunteer opportunities.
- With that comes the thrill of class parent.
- With that comes the offer to sit on the school board.
- With that comes the homework hell.
I have and am doing all of the above. I am also here to remind you (and me) that "NO" is a complete sentence.
A friend asked me on Sunday HOW it is that I am so involved in my community. So, here's my story. Get comfortable.
- My kids were in a not-for-profit daycare and we needed money. So, I suggested a fundraiser - a silent auction. Our little day care, with 53 families and maybe 25 teachers managed to raise $5,000 in one evening. THAT was heady stuff and I was hooked.
- My neighbor asked me to join the Education Foundation - Bella was 2, Peter was 3. It was once a month. She was the retired superintendent. I couldn't say no.
- Peter went to kindergarten, I went to my first ever PTA meeting. My hand shot up on it's own to be the hospitality chair.
- OF COURSE I will be the class mom.
- OH...you need a PTA Co-President? "SURE, I will do that." Find unsuspecting person in the crowd to bring into the fracas with you. (Apologies to Helen & Janis...) NOTE: If you need people on the executive board, ALWAYS ask them at the PTA Holiday Dinner AFTER they have had several glasses of wine. It is AMAZING how people will say, "Sure!"
- In order to continue having people involved, go to the local bar AFTER the PTA meetings and gently coerce others to the dark side.
- Keep your meetings under an hour and don't let anyone start a filibuster. Look at a clock, say, "GO! You have five minutes," and then stop them when time is up. LISTEN to everyone and realize, some issues are school board issues and some people just need a forum to be heard - often, the PTA meeting may be THE only place they CAN be heard. Be firm, funny and most importantly, kind.
- I was the PTA Co-Prez for three years in elementary school.
- As if that wasn't enough, I did it for another two years in middle school.
- I was involved in anything and everything else I could get involved in. Book Fair (all joking aside, my favorite of any event), Children's Fair, Career Day, etc.
- I went to the other schools events and PTA meetings.
- I always go to the spring high school musical.
- I go to sporting events my kids don't play. Field Hockey - not really sure about THAT.
- I attend whatever I can to see the kids in their best light.
- I sat on Strategic Planning Committees.
- I sat on internal school committees.
- I sat on hiring committees.
THAT is entirely too much. WAY too freaking much. Because, EVERY single time I said yes to something "for the children" I said no to MY OWN KIDS.
So, to those of you who have lived this merriment with me, I say, "Bravo! We made it. We did it."
For the rest of you, here is my advice. If truth be told, I don't know if I would have listened to myself 13 years ago. I would like to think I would have been wise enough to.
- Find ONE thing that you are passionate about and take that on first. DO NOT say yes to everything. You will burn out faster than a tea light candle.
- If you think something is a good idea, implement it.
- If you think you can do something better, don't whisper about it to your friends - make a suggestion for improvement or STFU.
I am the Co-Chair of a MAJOR all PTA annual event. 2014 makes it my 7th year doing so. ONE MORE YEAR. We have raised over $100,000 in the past six years with all of the proceeds going to areas of the schools that needed a boost - technology, sports, the arts, the sciences, THE KIDS.
It is worth the time and effort. I know nearly all of my kids teachers through the years. I know nearly every administrator. I am able to flit in and out of the schools and say, "Hi" and "Bye" like I work there.
When I was involved at the elementary school level I had blinders on to the sheer importance of the middle school and high school years. THESE are so unbelievably important, but when your baby steps on the school bus on the first day of school, you can't fathom how quickly this will all happen. Try to remember that. We get tired, exhausted really, burnt out and done because we do SO much when they are little. They need us to be just as involved as they get older - not in their face involved, but involved. And let's face it, the middle school and high school PTAs have NO money compared to the elementary schools. JOIN the PTA even if you never go to a meeting. That $10 WILL make a difference. If the idea of another fundraiser makes you ill, write a check directly to your PTA and get the whole tax write-off. Be involved as best as YOU can be. You matter, your kids matter and frankly, your school district matters if you want your home values to remain stable and perhaps, even go up.
::: stepping off my soap box :::