You might think since I wrote a book about how to raise money for your school that I never feel guilty and live at the school volunteering all day every day. NOPE! I’ve got as many hours in the day as everyone else, and feel as guilty, and judged, as you do. Some of the best advice I ever got was from my grandfather who used to say, “Don’t let anyone ‘should’ on you!” This was good advice!
Volunteering can stir up all kinds of guilt! Some parents do it, while others just write a check. If you don’t volunteer, you feel like you’re missing out on your kid’s experiences. Yeah, you’re working to support your family and writing a check to the school, but you’re missing out on the day-to-day stuff in the classroom. How will my kid ever forgive me?? What do the other parents think of me?
It’s not much prettier on the other side. Say you volunteer in the school and are on the board of the booster club or PTA. You’re giving a lot of your time to the school; doing a lot to help all the kids, but you feel guilty that you’re not in your kids’ classroom helping correct papers and helping the teacher. Your kids may see you around school, but not with them. What do my kids’ teachers think of me? What about the parents who are doing even more than me? I don’t want them to think I’m not doing enough. GUILT!
All parents feel guilty at different points with their kids. We want to do so much for them and give them everything. When we can’t, we feel like we let them down. Whether it’s a class we can’t afford to give them, time we don’t have to spend after a long day at work, or volunteering in the classroom. There will always be the overachieving parent who does EVERYTHING! Don’t compare yourself to that person. They have their own issues that they are dealing with and guilt for something that you may never know about. I know for me, I can’t keep up with those super-parents, no matter how hard I try.
We are all busy. If you have time, ask what you can do to help. If you have five minutes, ask the teacher or the school office if you can help sort papers or staple something. Do you have half an hour? Stuff envelopes for the PTA water the science garden or clean instruments for the music teacher. More time? Offer to help on a committee or help the crossing guard get kids across the street safely. There’s always something that needs to be done at a school. Just ask how you can help.
Here’s the bottom line: Some parents will judge you, but hopefully not anyone that really KNOWS you. Who cares what anybody else thinks. Believe in you! We all do the best we can for our kids. For some, it’s writing a check to help fund an art teacher; for others, it’s baking cookies for a PTA meeting or bake sale. We all do what we can do and that has to be enough.
I do feel guilty sometimes that I can’t do more. I have to be constantly aware not to judge myself. This helps me to remember that I have no place judging anyone else. So even though I try not to “should” on people, I will offer this one piece of advice: You “should” do only what you can and you “should” always remember that it is enough.
Sarah Barrett is a former teacher and small business owner with a MA in Education who has traded in her full-time career to dedicate her time and energy to fundraising for her neighborhood school. She has just published her first book, A Mom’s Guide to School Fundraising, which is available on Kindle or paperback through Amazon. You can find her on Facebook here, and for more information about Sarah or the book, go here.