Every time someone asks me what I think of parenthood I think of myself before kids and now.
How I Describe Parenting
I remember having the feeling of some sort of a veil coming off from in front of my face. Suddenly, I saw the world in a very different way. It was incredible!
And to be frank, it wasn’t all that great. I’m always honest when people ask me about parenthood. I’ll tell you the good, the bad and the ugly. Parenthood is a wonderful thing, but it’s not all peaches and cream.
There’s so much joy in knowing that you’re raising a little person to be the best human being possible.
But while you think you’re doing your best, you often wonder how you’re messing up your kids. I describe parenting as internal self-induced torment because a lot of time, parents think of the worse case scenarios that could happen to them and their kids.
We do that because we wish we could control what could happen to them and while we want them to become independent we’re a bit scared to let them slowly go off on their own.
We think of all sorts of things happening, not because we’re crazy (although sometimes parents might question their own sanity), but because we think of how we’d be able to help them avoid bad situations.
I believe this has been happening more the past decade due to public shootings, bombings, the rise in human trafficking and cyber bullying.
As a parent I try to be as involved as possible in my children’s lives. I do not accept short answers when I ask them how their day went. I pry conversations out of them to know what’s really been going on in their days and I make sure I know each and every friend and their friends’ parents.
A Different Look Into My Children’s Life
Another way I’ve been able to get to know a different side of my children is by volunteering at their school and it’s been a wonderful experience. It’s even given me peace of mind that they’re on the right track, that they’re not into bad stuff and that they’re not hanging out with the wrong crowd.
Yes, I know some kids appear not to be engaging into shenanigans that will get them in trouble, but knowing a bit more about their school life helps me understand what peer pressures they might be facing.
My kids are in elementary school, so I can still be a lot more involved at their school than if I had children in middle or high school. I also have the privilege of having a flexible schedule. So, when I have the time, I volunteer at the school.
On the days I can’t come into the school, I offer to help teachers from home. Teachers send my kids home with the materials they need help with, such as cutting out laminated papers, worksheets to put together activity or homework packets, papers to stuff folders and when I make it into the classroom, I’ve also graded homework. Scissors, tape, staplers and all included.
I’ve also offered to help the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) with events during and after school as well as putting gift baskets together, blowing up balloons and decorating the hall for events.
The amount of work I’ve helped teachers with and the PTO, which is all volunteer based, is astoundingly helpful and powerful to schools. But it takes a special team of leaders to run an effective PTO or fundraiser program.
You really don’t know how the PTO/PTA members role at a school impacts students and how much dedication goes into it until you start getting involved. So, if you see them constantly selling stuff to raise money, don’t judge. They’re doing it to provide resources to YOUR kids.
As far as teachers go, I have no idea how they manage when they don’t have parents to help out.
Sometimes not enough people volunteer to help. So, a select few decide to help with the fundraisers, or to help the planning of events and to bring money into the school to pay for things that many, many parents and kids take for granted.
For example, at a recent fundraiser, I witnessed a parent complaining to a parent volunteer and PTO member that she needed to have a month in advance notice for the mother-son dance because she wanted to have an outfit to match with her son’s.
A note had been sent with the student to remind parents. But parents don’t check kid’s book bags. The school principal also sends out weekly announcements via text, email and phone call. But somehow parents still say they don’t get them.
On a different occasion, another parent complained that the decorations at a festival were poor and the food selection was limited. But this parent never offered suggestions nor time to help plan and set up for the event.
Then, last year at an award ceremony a parent complained about a teddy bear’s balloon being crooked. Yeah. Fo’real!
Volunteering and overall social capital (other community support engagement i.e., union and club memberships, community sports, church attendance, etc.) has drastically declined in the U.S. over the past 50 year by at least half.
Surely you’ve noticed if you’ve either lived that long or have heard older people discuss the lack of citizen activity.
Schools have to do more fundraising in order to pay for school field trips, for awards given out at assemblies, for textbooks, library books and even for school events like school dances, festivals and other things.
What I want you to understand about volunteer work is that there’s more value to it than the act of helping out an organization. When you volunteer, your kids get a sense of pride. You become a role model of what being a good citizen is and a good public servant.
You kids are also recognized by more adults which is a great advantage to you and your child because other volunteers, staff members and teachers end up looking out for your kids more than the kids they do not know.
As far as the benefits for the parents go, volunteering allows them to learn new skills. You use creativity to plan fun events to raise money, you learn to organize other volunteers.
You also gain leadership skills, time management skills, customer service skills, budgeting, even writing skills (for public relations announcements and when sending out letters requesting support from the local community).
So, for stay-at-home Moms and Dads who decide to go back into the job market, don’t leave out all the experience you gained while volunteering.
You network with people from different walks of life, you learn more about others and you expand your resources.
Unfortunately, there are some not so good PTOs or PTAs out there, but unless people with good ideas and good leadership skills don’t step up, then you’re allowing your child’s school to accept substandard resources.
So, if you aren’t aware about how how you can help a local school, check out these 7 Ways To Volunteer After Work Hours and come back and let us know if you’ve been involved in some pretty amazing organizations for a great cause!