Confessions of a {Former} Class Room Mom

As soon as my first child went to school, I filed out the volunteer paper work and signed up. I kind of thought it was mandatory. Sort of like once you have a baby you find yourself on the church nursery rotation when all you really want to be doing is sitting baby-free in the pew for an hour each week. There were a few different circumstances and a move that happened and I had the opportunity to experience parent life at a private Christian school, a co-op, a private school for gifted children and two very different public elementary schools. I feel like I've seen it all, and I've taken on all kinds of different roles from room mom to PTA president. I won't sugar-coat it. It's not all good. So buckle up. I've got some confessions from a former class room mom you aren't going to want to miss.

pta, parents, school, volunteer

Confessions of a {Former} Class Room Mom

pta, parents, school, volunteer

You Don't Have to Say Yes

I wish this is something I learned early on, but I didn't. It probably took me 10 years as a parent before I realized I could say no and the world would keep spinning. My personality is such that if I see a need, I want to be able to fill it. This is how I fell into the role of class parent more than once. It's OK to say "let me think about it" rather than think you need to respond right away.

You Will Only Feel Appreciated When You First Sign Up

Class parent is a thankless job. You will feel unappreciated and undervalued. The only time you will feel any appreciation and thankfulness for the job is when you first sign up. The teacher will gush over you, the other parents will thank you and tell you what a saint you are. Run with that high for as long as you can because this will be the only time you get any praise or thanks for the work you are doing. Soak it in.

You Will Get Preferential Treatment

No one will admit this but it's true. Teachers will hand-pick your kids in hopes that they will have the parent who will happily say yes to everything they are asked to do. They want the mom who will show up and cut hearts out of red construction paper for them for 14 hours and who will bind the whole years art projects into a beautiful book. This is true of not only class moms but of moms {or dads} who show up in the classroom and at the school often. 

You Will Be Expected to Pick Up the Slack

You will send out e-mails and sign-ups and get little or no response. It's your job to pick up the slack. You will feel required to bring the 4 dozen sugar cookies if the only thing that gets brought in and donated are the sprinkles. This will add up {see next} and you will feel like a martyr. 

You Will be Forking Over a Lot of Cash

It never fails that you would rather just pay out of pocket for something rather than send out one more e-mail or put up one more sign-up that will get zero responses. This job will cost you more than a lot of time, it will cost you a lot of money too.

You will Count Down the Days Until Your Job is Over

When I was elected PTA president, I started counting down the days in early September to the end of school year when I could pass my title off. I hated the job and the responsibility from pretty much day one. My life sucked and was all consumed by my school duties, none of which were appreciated. It was a full-time job and I got zero payment for it, not even a thankyouverymuch. 

You Will be Perceived as a B*tch

Pardon my french, but there isn't any sugar-coating this. You will, more often than not, have to take on the unpopular stance. You will have to be organized and uptight about following rules that you didn't make and that you may not even agree with, just to be compliant with the rules of the classroom or the school. 

You Will be Witness to it All

It will be rare that you sign up as class mom and don't show up at every.single.function. You will know the parents that sign up often and you will keep tabs on the ones that don't. You will see the kids who look for their parents faces at the party and the disappointment when they don't show. You will pass judgement on parents and harbor resentment towards them based on what a six-year-olds response is, even if it's just a furrow of the brow but especially if it's a statement like "my parents never come" even though you yourself wish you could be anywhere other than in the classroom right that second too.

You Will Spend Far More Time on This "Job" Than you Can Imagine

This volunteer position will take priority over your life. It will take hours each week and will be all consuming. You or your family may feel resentful towards the amount of time and energy that it takes from you.  There are meetings, e-mails, shopping trips and crafting not to mention hours spent in the classroom and at the school that will pull you in all directions. There will be parents who treat you like an employee of the school and don't realize that you don't get paid for this job. Prepare for it.

You Will Have to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

There will be times that you will have to be the go-between if there is a disagreement between the parents and the staff or if an issue arises with the administration. I promise you, the words "I didn't sign up for this" will come out of your mouth at least once during your tenure. You will have to plan class gifts and come up with sentimental projects and keep track of sign-ups, all things that may not be in your wheelhouse, but you will need to embrace when you take on this title.

The job is hard but it is not without it's rewards. You will get to see how your child behaves in a classroom setting, you will get hugs from kids mid-day and you will see your own child's face light up when you walk in the door. 

You will become known only as soandso's mom and it will thrill you to no end. I'm not telling you to steer clear of the job {OK maybe I'm not painting it in the best light!} I'm only warning you like a friend would warn you because I think if I had someone on the other end telling me all the ins and outs then maybe I would have been a little more prepared when I ran into some of these situations. I probably would have naively said "not on my watch". 

If you don't sign up to be room mom, no worries. Heck, I'm kind of burnt out myself. That said, pay attention to the e-mails and the sign-ups that do go around. Respond to them. Be generous with the praise and accolades because they are needed. Send a note or a text and let the room parent know that you see them and their hard work and offer to help when you can. You don't need to step out into the limelight, but be there to support them in the shadows. It's a thankless job, but someone needs to do it.

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Heather said...

100% true (former playground monitor, athletic/band booster, quiz bowl coordinator, banquet committee, youth group/missions chaperone, cub scout pack leader/chair). I was THAT mom.

Anonymous said...


Unknown said...

Been there, done that. Had pretty much the same experience. No regrets though. I know my kids benefited from my participation.

I had an "assistant room mother" who thought it was her job to do absolutely nothing except tell me what to do! Ugh!

Unknown said...

It is nice to hear some honesty! So often I hear other mothers talk about how fulfilling and wonderful it is to help with their kids in the classroom, but I know it isn't all sunshine and rainbows. It is nice to hear another mom say, "It is ok to say no."

Our Family World said...

When my kids were still young, I did not dream of being a classroom mom or PTA President. I viewed it as additional work to my already bursting workload at home and in my corporate job. I am all praises to parents who can dedicated their time to being a classroom mom.

Courtney Blacher said...

These are great tips, you explained it so well! Thank you for sharing your experience!

Unknown said...

I was not that mom. I traveled all through my kid's elementary school years. That is such a great experience for you!

Serenity Semple said...

Thank you for writing this! I’ve been having woes as a first time room mom and it looks like almost nothing has changed! Oh yeah except for covid. Now at the school I help at it’s optional if the teacher wants you in the classroom. So welcome to the no reward zone! You don’t even get to see the class or help out at all where the kids can see. It’s all ‘have your child drop this off when they get to class’ and ‘drop it off before school starts’. This is the worse! If someone asked me if they should be a room mom I would be honest how it’s definitely not for everyone!

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