As schools are back in business, so are PTA ‘s, i.e the dreaded Parent Teacher Associations/Organizations. A lot of parents try to steer clear and avoid taking on extra duties into their already full-packed schedules. Who has the time to step up and volunteer, when daily life is already taking up all your time and energy?? I did. One of the first things I did when my kids started at daycare was contact the PTA. I was born to be a PTA mom.
In all honesty, joining the PTA at my children’s daycare three years ago was a fantastic decision. It involves a lot of work at times, reorganizing schedules and commitment to certain duties. At the same time, it gives back ten-fold.
10 Things to consider when asked to join the PTA:
1. Your children matter to you.
Whether your kids are in daycare or school, chances are, they are spending a lot of time outside the home. You want your children to feel safe, happy and cared for. PTA’s work hard to enhance wellbeing, create solidarity among children and their families, support the guidance and educational direction as well as organize fun events.
2. Being involved in your children’s daily life and future is never a lost cause.
Education is extremely important and it’s a path that begins from the first day your child is enrolled at daycare or school. Set an example, show your children that you are involved and care. A good relationship between the home and children’s school or daycare is vital.
At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents.
Jane D. Hull
3. When is the last time you made new friends as an adult?
Embrace your own wellbeing. PTA to the rescue. When we moved back to Finland four years ago, I have to admit, I was extremely lonely. I was alone with three kids to tend to, living pretty much in the middle of the forest. I didn’t have any friends close by and arranging for a baby sitter was not an easy task. When my kids started at daycare, the first thing I did was join the PTA. A group of mothers with children in the same age that took me in with open arms. Children were more than welcome at our meetings, so no need to get a babysitter. And at the same time, my kids became closer to their daycare friends. PTA meetings became something that my kids and I all look forward to.
4. Members of the board set the tone and rules for the PTA
When you become a member of the board or an active member, you are able to better have your opinion heard. No doubt there are a lot of differences between how different PTA’s work, but as a member, you get to have your say. You obviously don’t need to sit on the board for the PTA to listen, but you do need to contact them with matters of concern or interest so they can be acted upon. 😉 For us, it was obvious that we were working for our kids and they were also welcome at our meetings, which would’ve otherwise been a hurdle for solo parents like me. During the first year, a lot of our meetings were held at my house. Simply because my kids had an earlier bedtime than most, and I didn’t have a spouse who would put the kids to bed while I were elsewhere. It was practical for all of us.
Even if your kids come along, you still get some me-time. Kids playing together while parents discuss matters. Depending on the agenda, meetings can last 1-2 hours. We make sure to have coffee, tea, juice and snacks available, and always time for a little bit of chit chat and socializing too. Because it’s not strict. And as a member of the board, I can affect that. If you spend all day sitting at official business meetings, I’m pretty sure you won’t want to spend your evening doing the same thing. If you’re a stay at home mom with the younger kids, you’ll definitely want a break now and then to socialize with other adults. While actually doing something important! So have your say, and make sure the PTA you get involved in is laid back and welcomes children if that is a matter important to you.
6. PTA’s are not just about bake sales and pep rallies.
There’s a lot more to them. What happens behind the scenes is rarely out in the open. As a parent attending an event, you might just see the tip of the iceberg – a fun family event, participate and go home. Then when you really stop and think about it, consider why the event was arranged in the first place? To raise funds? For what cause? To treat the members of the PTA board to a nice luncheon, or perhaps it was actually to enhance the wellbeing of your child? Chances are, the event was created for several reasons: to bring joy to your little one, gather money to enable the purchase of something relevant for the educational facility or perhaps another event, bring the kids and their families closer, spread information about an important matter.. Numerous reasons could be behind it, but I’m convinced, they’re always for a good cause.
7. It’s a learning experience and a merit on your CV
Depending on how your PTA is assembled, there are still usually certain protocols and rules that must be followed and official positions to be held. These could be president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, etc. Whether or not you’re in working life, these are all important rolls that teach you a lot and will be useful in the future too.
Staying a long time at home with kids can leave you with an empty CV – which is not ideal if you plan on returning to work one day. Instead of having to just write down “stay at home mom” or “domestic wife” you can actually add responsible duties, tasks and volunteer work. In my case for example, I’ve been the secretary of the board for three years, which is definitely not a bad merit.
8. It’s okay to say “No”
Sometimes life is simply too busy to take on extra work. And that is when you have to say “no”. For a PTA, or any other organization for that matter, to run smoothly, it needs active members that will do what is agreed upon. It’s a lot better for everyone when you acknowledge your own resources and capabilities. As mentioned earlier, one of the important tasks of a PTA is to enhance wellbeing. A stressed, overwhelmed member who struggles to attend meetings or help out when necessary, will not do anyone good – not yourself nor the organization. If you know you won’t be able to commit to the tasks at hand, be honest and do everyone a favor by saying “no”. There will be several other opportunities!
9. Participating in the PTA does not have to be a fulltime commitment
I think I speak for all PTA’s on a global level, when I say there are never too many volunteers at hand. You do not need to be a member of the board to be of assistance. You don’t need to be an active member either. There are so many other ways to show your support for the valuable work. It could be financial support, sponsoring products for a raffle, bringing in baked goods to an event, but also simply by showing up at events and showing your support that way.
10. Last but not least, it’s a great hobby
We should all have some sort of hobbies. Something that gives us a break from our daily lives. An activity that brings you joy, helps you ease stress, something that you look forward to. The PTA has become one of my personal favorite hobbies. It’s a task that I enjoy participating in. I’ve made great friends and so have my kids. I’ve learned a lot, laughed my heart out. I have a close relationship with my children’s daycare, I’ve been able to participate, suggest improvements, expand my network and have an impact on my children’s wellbeing, all while truly enjoying myself.
If you want to read more about why participating in a PTA is beneficial for you and your family, there’s a lot of great resources out there. Head over to National PTA and read more about Why Parents Need PTA. If you’re in Finland and Swedish speaking, head over to Hem och Skola, if you’re Finnish speaking, go to Suomen Vanhempainliitto for more information. Or simply ask around at your childrens’ school or daycare!
The next time you see a member of the PTA or notice an announcement regarding an upcoming event, give it a go! You’ve got nothing to loose, but a village to gain! x