My kids are in elementary and middle school. Over the years, I’ve volunteered as much as my health, career, and schedule have allowed. I’ve gone on numerous field trips, helped with a bunch of class parties and probably more things that I don’t remember as I’m typing this.
Cameron started kindergarten in 2010 and it’s all kind of a blur from there. One of my favorite things was helping at Lily’s Valentine’s Day parties because her birthday is right after.
Julian at the Louisville Bats game- 5th grade
Why do I like volunteering at my kids’ schools?
- It allows me to get in some quality time with my kids. There’s three of them, one of me, and not nearly enough time in the day. Going on a field trip with them creates fun memories that’s just with us. Cameron still laughs about the bowling field trip in which both of us ended up with migraines. We had a very quiet evening at home afterward.
- I have fun doing it. I don’t go on all the field trips I am able to- some of them just aren’t my thing. Lily’s class went on a trip to see a play that I knew I would basically fall asleep on so I sat that one out. If I know I can go and have fun doing it, I’ll sign up. Otherwise, nope.
- It forces me to socialize. When I was in therapy, Rachel had me work on this a bit. I wasn’t a recluse or anything, but I didn’t like being around people very much and I would spend days in my house. Going on a field trip helps break that up a bit. I actually wear something besides sweats.
Heading Into the Wild
There are many ways you can volunteer at your child’s school. I just find field trips and the occasional class party the most fun and easiest way to do so. Some parents love organizing class parties, helping readers, coordinating festivals and so on. I just don’t have the time.
Volunteering is a good way to get to know your child’s teacher a bit. I’ve been able to become a lot more friendly with my kids’ teachers this way- in fact, my boys’ 4th-grade teacher now lives a few houses away from us. We became friends after she taught Julian. She was a special ed teacher for years before going mainstream. She loved working with him and helped us a lot with getting his IEP. Allison is a blast to talk to and we were thrilled to hear she was moving in the neighborhood. Julian won’t admit it, but he thinks it’s cool.
It’s also helped me meet some of my kids’ friends that I might not get to meet otherwise. Lily and her friend Alex don’t see each other much outside school but they are always together in school- I got to meet him on a field trip in which all of us were freezing. He’s a nice kid. He even said he wished his mom could come on field trips.
I’m not a fan of people, but I have made a mom friend while going on field trips over the years. Tiffany’s sons, Jordan and Connor, have been friends with Cameron and Lily. She and I have emailed and hung out with our kids often. She even follows my somewhat unfiltered Twitter. They are moving to a different county after this school year and I will be so sad to see them go. It can be fun to make mom friends, especially if you’re on a not-so-fun field trip or other situation. You might be able to make a stinky situation better.
These ideas were partially from A Life In Balance
Your child might look at you sideways the first few times that you show up. This is okay. They’ll get used to it.
My mom worked a lot when I was a kid- usually in the afternoons and/or at night, so she was usually sleeping when I was at school. She didn’t get to go on a lot of my field trips or help out a lot in my classes. She did make it to the big things, so I wanted to be able to do more for my kids. (No worries, Mom. I’m not mad. You did what you needed to do- take care of us.) I have missed a lot of things but my kids get the idea that I had to work, so now that I’m working differently, I’m able to do more. I know not all parents can, and that sucks. Don’t feel bad for what you can’t do, but feel good about what you can do.
If your schedule is a bit wonky, ask your child’s teacher what you can do to help. There is most likely something you can do, even if it’s making copies, making packets, or something else like that. Teachers love volunteers. I have friends that are teachers, and I hear this a lot.
Most school activities are meant to be fun in some capacity. Have all the fun you can and treasure the memories with your child.
Do you volunteer at your child’s school? Why or why not? What kind of experiences have you had?