Crazy Decision – Becoming PTA President

I’ve been on the executive board of my kids’ elementary school since Jase entered kindergarten seven years ago. I only have one year left on this board until we are done with this school. (Jase moved on last year and Lexie only has one more year to go.) This year has been stressful, and I want to focus more on writing, so I had thought that I would drop being an officer (which I have been for the past 4 years) and just go back to a simpler committee chair job.

I knew what position I wanted. All I wanted to do for my last year was throw my daughter and her classmates a great party at the pool as part of their graduation onto middle school. I wanted to be fifth grade party chair.

Then as talk about filling officer positions circulated, the suggestion was I take over the secretary position. Ok, I thought. I can co-chair fifth grade party and be secretary.

Then a week or so later, they sprang it on me. The person who they thought would be president wanted to be treasurer next year and then she would do president the following year. Our current PITA (that is pain-in-the-ass) 2nd VP was considering a second run as president. No one wanted that. In fact, no one wanted her on the board, let alone in a position of power as she had been for the past four years. They wanted me to become president, so she couldn’t.

Dang, I thought, all I want to do is throw a party at the pool.

I’ve spent the past two years in the first Vice President role. I have watched our current president struggle with a rough year with lack of volunteers. And now they think I want to do this?

Sigh. Well, I have to say, I am crazy. And I obviously don’t know how to says no – just ask my mom or husband. They both will agree that no doesn’t seem to be in my vocabulary when it comes to volunteering. So, after some consideration and long conversations with my husband who encouraged me to do this, I decided to take the plunge. I decided to agree to be president for just one year. (You are allowed a maximum two years at any position.)

Two weeks later, I was nominated. A week later, I was elected by an unenthusiastic bunch of parents who were only present to see the ukulele concert after the PTA meeting.

Now I need to line up my committee chairs and fill two officers positions (2nd VP and secretary) that weren’t filled. It will be up to me (and the other officers) to convince people to come back to the board and to continue to support our PTA after many of them have been driven away by the PITA 2nd VP.

Sounds like fun, huh? Yeah, I agree. Not fun at all. But I signed up for this. Gee, I must really be crazy.

My plan to spend less time volunteering has failed

It wasn’t a New Year’s resolution. Maybe it was just a nice passing thought but with the New Year, I wanted to spend less time volunteering at my kids’ school and more time writing.

For the past two years, I have been an officer in the parent-teacher association (PTA) at their school. With that volunteer position comes a big time commitment. It means helping out at PTA functions as well as doing my officer position as Treasurer.

prez_volunteer_awardlogo_april_09_flat_customI volunteered enough hours in the past two years to receive the Silver Presidential Volunteer Service Award. This is a national award given to those who volunteer between 250 and 400 hours a year. (I received a certificate and a lapel pin each year.)

This year I am the first vice-president in charge of parent education and PTA programs. This position isn’t as time intensive as keeping the books for the PTA, but I do still volunteer a lot of my time helping with our programs.

So at the beginning of the year we had a PTA board meeting. I took myself off the scholarship committee announcing that I was trying to cut back my volunteering. I didn’t raise my hand when they were forming the budget committee.

When they talked about things that need to be done for our upcoming festival, I agreed to do the flyers and signs because that is something I love to do, and since I did them last year, I have many of the files already done.

Then came the news that the woman in charge of the fifth-grade pool party (an end of the year celebration for those leaving elementary school to attend middle school) had to step down. They were looking for those who would chair the committee or at least help out. Since I have a fifth-grader, I couldn’t say no to helping.

I bet you can see where this is going. Yep, by the time we had our first committee meeting, I had begun talking to people about last year’s party. And since I was treasurer the past two years, I had access to the party expenses. And before I knew it, I seemed to be in charge of the committee even though I haven’t officially taken on the chair position.

Ok. The party isn’t until the end of May and tons of parents usually want to be involved so I think I should be fine with this additional responsibility. And then…

The PTA needs to form a nominating committee to elect officers for the next school year. When the PTA President announced this at our general meeting last week, there was dead silence from the audience. No one wants to be on the committee, and we need five members. Finally a few of us dedicated PTA board members raised their hands. (Yes, you know I was one of them.)

After the meeting, the five of us on the committee were supposed to meet and pick a chair. Somehow three of the others met without me and said while they didn’t mind being on the committee that they didn’t want to chair it. I bet you can guess what happened next. Yep, I am chairing the nomination committee.

The good news is the nominating committee is a short term commitment. We will be done by next month.

So I had good intentions to volunteer less. I do want to spend more time writing. I guess now I will just have to find a way to do it all.

Even when I want to say no…it doesn’t work

My husband often says I take on too much, and that I need to learn to say no. Yeah, that hasn’t stopped my yet. But after slacking off during the kids’ winter break, I felt a little overwhelmed last week as I tried to get caught up.

I had just spent almost all of Wednesday taking care of our financial records from the end of the year and doing some tax work for my husband’s law firm. So Thursday morning came, and I was thinking of all the things I needed to get done – especially with publishing a book in only two and a half weeks.

I spent the time preparing my kids’ school lunches talking myself out of going to my volunteer time in Jase’s class. I go every Thursday for about an hour to help with their math stations but it is after all a volunteer job. They can certainly do without me. And then Jase came downstairs….

“Do you know what today is?” he asked, excitedly.

“Thursday.”

“Yes! And you know what that means?”

“We are closer to the weekend?”

Jase laughed. “No. It means someone will be in my classroom today!”

I was in shock. He seemed so excited that I would be there. He has never really shown that before. So after deciding I had better things to do with my time, I quickly changed my mind again. I would go help out his class. It is after all only an hour, and he so wanted me there. I want to keep being involved while the kids are excited about it. I know the day will probably come where they are rolling their eyes and grumbling about their mom being at their school. But we aren’t there yet.

You know, when I volunteer to do these things – work in Jase’s class, do our homeowner association newsletter or run the HOA activities’ committee – I always do so because it seems like it will take such little time. Volunteering in Jase’s class is just an hour a week. The HOA newsletter comes out quarterly and takes less than an hour to put together. We also have the two HOA pool parties down so that it takes shopping at just two stores and about thirty minutes to set up (plus an hour and a half for the actual party.)

So it never seems like a big deal to sign up for these things. Of course, all those “little” projects do add up, and they do take away time from my writing time. I could have used last Thursday to finish formatting my novel. But instead, I made my son happy. It was worth it. Not to mention I had the weekend to finish working on my new release.

Check back on my blog tomorrow as I reveal the cover for The Heir to Alexandria. It will be available on Amazon starting Tuesday, January 27th.

Joining the PTA

When I decided to have kids, I always said I would not become your typical PTA/soccer mom. While neither kid plays soccer (nor any sport besides karate right now), I did join the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) at Jase’s school.

When I joined, I had no clue exactly what they did. I don’t know if this is true in other locations, but our PTA sponsors a whole lot of programs at our school – red ribbon week, bike safety rodeo, field day as well as plan the school holiday parties and bring in special events such as the children’s theatre or guest speakers. They also provide faculty appreciation breakfasts and lunches throughout the years as well as plan the teacher-appreciation week activities.

Basically, without these programs, school would be less fun for the students and teachers. And none of these programs would run without volunteers. I have a friend who is a stay-at-home mom, but she has no desire to participate in the PTA. She claims she is not a joiner, though she did what many parents do, she signed up for the PTA with no plans to help implement any of their programs.

Well, I don’t consider myself a joiner. However, I do like to volunteer at my kids’ schools and as my husband will tell you, I don’t seem to know how to say no.  So without knowing exactly what the PTA entailed, I signed up during kindergarten registration. I figured it would give me an opportunity to become involved in Jase’s school. After all that is one of the reasons I chose to be a stay-at-home mom.

Little did I know that I would soon be holding a board position and attending monthly board meetings (though I only made it to one general meeting and that was because the kindergartners were performing). It was my first adventure into the public school realm, and I learned a lot about our school and how it is run. It also opened my eyes to what wonderful things the PTA offers the students and what the dedication of a few parents can do.

I am on the PTA board again this year. My friends keep joking that I will be PTA president before you know it. I can tell you right now that I am not volunteering for that position. But maybe in a couple of years, if they ask…or maybe by then I will have learned to say “no.”