Is Your Volunteering Truly Benefiting Your Child?
posted by: Susan Wells
When I was growing up, my mom was always involved in our elementary school. She was active in the PTA, served as president and worked as a teacher’s aide in my later years. I enjoyed having my mom be a part of my education and visible in the school.
This left such an impact on me that I am now involved in my daughters’ school.
Like my mom, I am active, but work to give my children space to be themselves and find their own place without their mother hovering. Unlike my mom, I work outside the home. Also unlike my mom, I do not participate in the PTA directly, but help out in other capacities.
I help in the classroom, fill Friday folders, act as room parent, organize the science fair and sit on the school improvement committee. I also ran a science club last fall.
After that list, I’m wondering if I am giving them space, or enough of my undivided attention.
I started asking myself this question last fall when I took on the science club. Last summer, when the PTA asked me if I would run an after school club. I jumped at the opportunity. I hoped the club would get kids excited about science, bring a little enrichment to the school and give me a chance to play with some of my favorite things.
Dreaming of running a science club and actually planning, prepping, organizing and running a science club are two different things. It took up so much of my time, we barely pulled our own family Halloween prepping together in time. Decorations came out barely a week before, costumes were pulled together at the last minute. We didn’t make it to our traditional family outings.
I was also planning a classroom Halloween party during this time. I was so distracted and crazy I had a hard time focusing on our family’s priorities.
In the months since, I question whether or not my volunteering is making a difference in my children’s lives. I hope I am making at least a small difference within the school and contributing to make it a great school that offers an exceptional education. I also hope I am supporting the teachers where they need it.
Every meeting I attend takes me away from home, however, this gives my kids one on one time with their dad or grandparents or extra play dates.
Every event I plan takes me away from a focused approach on homework. I struggle to keep up with due dates, projects and daily homework. I feel like I am doing my young daughters a disservice by not always being on top of their lives and schedules. Is this helping to teach them independence and self reliance or causing issues because I am not there to teach them how to be independent and self reliant?
The PTA asked me to run a science fair club this spring. I would help guide kids and their parents through projects in hopes of engaging a few more children and increasing science fair participation. I jumped at the opportunity.
Then I respectfully declined.
It was a tough decision…I had the opportunity to get children engaged and improve our science fair. But I wondered if I would have enough time and energy to help my own children complete their projects. I am suffering from immense guilt from turning down the science fair club, but am happy that my children will have my undivided attention.
I will continue on with my commitments and volunteering but will stay vigilant to keeping a balance.
Do you volunteer at your child’s school? How do you find a balance?