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Ask Rene: I HATE Volunteering At My Kids’ School!


Ask Rene:
I HATE Volunteering At My Kids’ School!


Dear Rene,

Congratulations on all your hard work!  I wish I could be a little more like you which is why I’m writing for help.  I’ve just moved to a new town with my 11-year-old son.  I like his new school, but recently I found out they want all of the parents to volunteer.  I’ve tried to go and put on a happy face, but truth be told, I hate it!  It interferes with my work hours (even though I’m not docked or penalized) and I don’t see why it is necessary since the school is fully staffed and we live in a great district. To top it off, there are some moms and dads who actually like it and are willing to take on extra shifts.

I know I’m being a little less than good enough by not wanting to volunteer, but I really do hate it.  The other mothers are boring and honestly so are the teachers after we talk about our students.

How can I make more out of the experience since I have to do it?

Unwilling “Volunteer”


Dear Unwilling Volunteer:

Thanks for the kudos; that’s so nice of you to say those things about me which is why I feel sort of bad for coming down as hard as I’m about to. Here’s the thing, in life there are things we do because they need to get done. Period. I absolutely hate cooking (with good reason) but if I don’t do it, at least when Buff’s out of town, we don’t eat. I hate cleaning (okay you’re getting a clearer picture of the life of Good Enough Mother right now), but if I don’t do it, my family lives in filth. And on it goes.  In your case, while you may not love to do it, changing your attitude about it will make it go much easier. How do you do that? By remembering a few simple things.

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mother teaching little girl drawing picture in the classroom

One of the things I remember about my childhood was the times my mother spent volunteering in the classroom. I remember coming in from recess and seeing her sitting there next to the teacher (next to the TEACHER!) and, when the other kids buzzed about how whose mom that was and how they liked her funky style (this was the 70’s, remember), my flat-chest would puff out a little more. When I volunteered for events in my own kids’ classrooms (before they were embarrassed by me), I saw the same reaction. Letting your kids see you helping out, demonstrates to them in a tangible way, that you care.

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Community concept letters attached to a cork noticeboard with thumbtacks

Yes, it’s technically for the school but the community as a whole will benefit. Got any friends who are teachers? Ask them how hard they work and while you’re at it, how much they spend on school supplies out of their own pockets. In some cases, it’s substantial. These men and women care enough about your kids to dip into their own budgets (and, when last I checked, teachers weren’t exactly rollin’ in dough) in order to make sure they learn. Volunteering at the school is a minor time commitment on your part that will make a major difference for them.

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Empty arrow signpost along a rural road

I’m not talking about monetarily, either. There’s something about serving others that makes us feel, oh I don’t know, good about ourselves. Useful. So change your attitude from begrudging unwillingness to one of servitude. I’m not saying you have to LOVE volunteering at the school; just hate it less. You know how to do that? Stop complaining and watch what happens.

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Your kids are reaping the benefits of an education in a place where they are cared for, since, chances are, if officials didn’t care, they wouldn’t be asking for help. They usually give you a few choices in terms of the things they need parents to do, so find one that you (sort of) like or are good at and then put in the time.

In short, suck it up! Even though it’s not meant to be a party, you can still have fun and who knows? You might find, you actually like it, once you change your attitude.

Good luck mom!

Do you have a question for Rene? She has an answer. Click here and fire away. And don’t forget to follow the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

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Combing the aisles at Target in search of the best deal on Cheerios, it hit Rene Syler like the stench of a dirty diaper on a hot summer’s day. Not only is perfection overrated its utterly impossible! Suddenly empowered, she figuratively donned her cape, scooped up another taco kit for dinner and Good Enough Mother was born.

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