Empathise with me please - endless guilt about not being able to give as much school support as SAHMs :-(

(25 Posts)
AuntLucyInTheNorthPole Wed 12-Dec-12 07:58:34

Anyone else struggling with this this time of year? Two children (2 and 5) means two school plays (costumes, after-play snacks etc), two charity craft fairs (set up, stall manning, donated baked goods), two end of term parties (more baked goods, more parent helper requests); two theatre trips (more parent helpers needed) etc etc. all in the working day. I work 60 hours a week and Christmas is our busiest time. I am doing my absolute best to turn out for as much as I can but I feel pulled in 17 directions at once.

Every email I receive from the class rep or PTA begging more time or donations just adds to the pressure. I SO envy the male parents who it is just assumed can't contribute anything so don't get asked. Anyone else feel the same (please!!)

catgirl1976geesealaying Wed 12-Dec-12 08:02:32

You are supporting the school

You pay for it.

Bluestocking Wed 12-Dec-12 08:07:06

Tell the guilt to shut up. You (presumably) send your children in appropriately dressed, fed and rested, and ready to learn. Everything else is optional. Get on with your busy working life and enjoy your time at home with your children - someone else can do the cupcakes and helping out.

sashh Wed 12-Dec-12 08:26:59

That's not guilt, it is centuries of patriachy burdening you down. It's telling you your work is not as important as a man's.

Pick it up off your shoulders and throw it as far as you can.

Put a footer on your e-mails to school.

I work 60 hours a week and am unavailable in December.

Then write tot he head and suggest trips / parties / craft fairs are spaced out throughout the year so that more parents can attend.

catgirl1976geesealaying Wed 12-Dec-12 08:35:51

I don't think it is centuries of patriarchy

I think it's "whose e-mail address did you give to the school as a contact?"

Because if they have the "mens" e-mail addresses they will send the requests to them. If they don't, they can't.

I work. DH is a SAHD. The nursery know who to contact about stuff like this. It's not me.

If you don't tell the school they are asking the wrong person and give them your e-mail as a contact, well, they are going to contact you.

Tell them this sort of stuff is not your domain and give them your DH's e-mail so he can sort these things out. If you are single just tell them you are too busy full stop.

But don't feel guilty.

ArcticRoll Wed 12-Dec-12 08:50:28

Having been in both full time stay at home mum and in full time paid employment I used to help out when I was not working but when I was working I politely and firmly said sorry I can't help out. Please try not to feel guilty -men don't !

3b1g Wed 12-Dec-12 08:54:17

I wouldn't worry so much. Lots of parents have to say 'no' to the requests for help, for all sorts of reasons (elderly or infirm parents, younger children who aren't at school yet). Most schools are happy to accept shop-bought donations when it comes to cakes etc.

Why do you think they keep emailing you? Because they are desperate for people. And why are they desperate? Because so many other people are already saying no! You are not the only one. Don't feel guilty.

HelpOneAnother Wed 12-Dec-12 09:12:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

bunchamunchycrunchycarrots Wed 12-Dec-12 09:15:18

I agree with others. I've had issues with my DDs school arranging events that only non working SAHPs have a hope in attending. I even got a letter the day before an event, which was due for 2pm the next day, asking for parents to attend. No way could I hope to arrange time off for that. My objections have fallen on deaf ears.

BeataNoxPotter Wed 12-Dec-12 09:34:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TheMoreItSnows Wed 12-Dec-12 10:39:17

I work, I am also a class rep for the kids' school, my advice to you - chill out and stop worrying.

I send mails out to absolutely everyone on the year's mailing list, it isn't targeted or specific it is just if your mail is on my list you'll be getting my mail, and there are hundreds of mails going out at this time of the year. Most are never responded to....

Anyone in my position will appreciate that there are those who have time to help and those who don't. There are also those who don't wish to help or be involved (often when it 'appears' that they have oodles of spare time) which is fine too....

Just do what you can do and develop a harder skin - in the nicest possible way!

snowshapes Wed 12-Dec-12 11:15:22

'afterplay snacks' - !!??

I forgot about after-play snacks!!! Don't feel guilty, you are a better person than me. You remembered after-play snacks. Thank you. DD will be dispatched with after play snacks now. I would have forgotten. No need to feel guilty.

ladydepp Wed 12-Dec-12 11:25:43

Please don't feel guilty! I am a SAHM and part of the PTA and send out a lot of emails like the ones you describe. I would never expect a mum who works like you do to be able to help with anything! Honestly, just don't reply to the emails, or just say sorry you would like to help out but are too busy. Anyone who doesn't understand that is an idiot! There are usually plenty of other people who can help and if not then that is not your problem.

Let the guilt go!

GinSoakedMu1berryLush Wed 12-Dec-12 11:28:31

don't worry.

I'm a sahm and i hate when i read stuff about the supposed judging between working mothers and stay at home mothers because it'salways something you read about and never something you actually encounter in real life. I never think 'oh they should help more'. I feel guilty that I don't help more, but..... I feel like I have enough on my plate. There I go, explaining my myself.

TheElfOnThePanopticon Wed 12-Dec-12 11:39:28

The reason that the school sends out lots of emails is that the only people who can really do a lot of helping are the parents or grandparents who ate not at work or looking after a younger child during the daytime, which in effect means SAHP of school-age children, parents of school- children who work part-time, shift workers who are very keen to help out at school rather than sleep, and sahm/mothers on maternity leave who have relatives who can look after their younger children while they help out. I'm a sahp at the moment, and I can only help out for the things that I can bring a toddler along to. No-one expects people who work full-time,band certainly not a job with long hours to spend their precious free time/annual leave setting up stalls.

AuntLucyInTheNorthPole Wed 12-Dec-12 13:02:41

Thankyou all. I feel a bit better knowing this. I gave email and mobile numbers for both self and DH when we did the contact forms, and I regularly remind the school secretary and class teacher to pls include DH on all emails (he seems to slip off the lists regularly..). Class rep only included my details on the 'mums list' when it was circulated in school bags at term start though (even though I asked for both names to be included) and it seemed churlish to object as I do very much appreciate her efforts as a volunteer, and she can't be expected to know everyone's family circumstances.

Thanks ladydepp. I hope our PTA parents are as understanding.

HipposGoBerserk Wed 12-Dec-12 13:09:00

There was a women's Hour discussion on this topic this morning. I didn't catch it, but thought it may interest you. I am going to try and listen to it later.

EmmelineGoulden Thu 13-Dec-12 14:50:48

AuntLucy Take your name off the list and get your DH to update you.

I'm a SAHM who has just become class rep for my kids' nursery classes (attached to primary school they'll be attending), and the whole thing is fairly sexist in its expectations. There is definitely a presumption about mothers, that they will be the ones doing everything, that is pretty lazy.*

Regardless, don't feel guilty. We don't actually expect a working parent (or any parent) to be doing everything that's asked. PTAs are a route for parents to be involved and supportive, but they aren't the only way. I'm not sure my kids' school life is really going to be improved one iota because I spent 2 hours filling jars with treats and baking brownies for the Chirsmat Fair. And if I didn't have plenty of time with them anyway I don't think it would be a wise way for me to spend the hours I could be spending with them unless I really enjoyed it.

If you're taking an interest in what your kids do at school you are involved and supportive. If you listen to them read at night and go to parents' evening you are involved and supportive (and it's a far better use of your time if you're busy). And providing your kids with the material things they need (through, oh I don't know, a job maybe wink), is also a huge part of what they need in life. Don't knock the stuff you are doing, just because you're getting emails about the stuff you aren't doing.

*In our PTA there's also a bit of hyper-appreciation for a father who does get involved and an expectation they'll do something diiferent from the mothers - a one off 'special project' rather than the every-event general organizing, donating, baking, supervising etc. It's tiresome and annoying, but difficult to challenge.

rosabud Thu 13-Dec-12 22:18:39

I empathised the minute I got as far the words "endless guilt" - a parent's lot, I think! If we're baking cupcakes - guilt guilt, we are not out pursuing a career and holding ourselves up as dynamic feminist role models for our children, if we run multi-nationals, guilt guilt, we are letting someone else read the bedtime stories! We are mollycoddling our children, guilt guilt they never go out to play, we are letting our children out to play, guilt guilt a peadophile might get them, we are letting them eat crisps, we are never letting them have a treat.......guilt GUILT, we are never getting it right! I am a single parent and work so craft fairs and cupcakes are the least of my problems - I don't do homework, reading, bathroom cleaning.......GUILT is my middle name.

madwomanintheattic Thu 13-Dec-12 22:25:07

Last night I played hookie from a meeting to attend dd2's last ever Christmas play. I was on my way to the meeting in the car, and then thought 'bollocks' and turned round.

You can't do everything. Do what you can, and sack the rest.

Dh and Ds were faintly weirded out when they realised I was there (hiding along the gym wall by the entrance as I sneaked in late) but dd2 was grinning hugely.

Honestly, don't sweat it. If as a family, you pull your weight at other times, then who cares. Guilt is tiresome.

I've given up volunteering for school this year. I've done tons in the past, but now choose to volunteer at other organisations in the community. I still feel an occasional twinge about it, but you know what, I box it and toss it. Life's too short.

Hassled Thu 13-Dec-12 22:25:40

Please believe that I know what I'm talking about when I say the school won't notice, or, if they do notice they won't care. A lot of teachers are working parents themselves. They don't judge other working parents. Get your kids to school on time with the right stuff as often as you can find the right stuff, stay interested and no-one cares about anything else.

I used to be very involved in the PTA - and however awfully PTAs are portrayed on MN, they are usually nice, normal, sane people who understand that not everyone has the spare time that they do.

SantaJaxx Thu 13-Dec-12 22:32:14

Don't feel guilty. I've been a SAHM for 11 years and I've NEVER volunteered for any of these things. <shudders at the thought> Hell would freeze over before I'd join the PTA or help with one of these things. I turn up and watch my dds in plays etc, but never help out.

AuntLucyInTheNorthPole Thu 13-Dec-12 22:37:58

It's so tricky, isn't it? My DH is happy to do his 50% but he hates being (for example) the 'attendant parent' with our 2yd old at parties, as he feels so uncomfortable thinking other mums are staring at him like a weirdo. And I am one of just two mums with jobs in the whole class. Feels like neither of us can win. Roll on the day when equality finally gets started...

drcrab Thu 13-Dec-12 22:46:32

Thank you for posting. II've been bombarded by emails and texts from school and parent class rep and frankly felt like I was drowning.

I work ft too. Last two Fridays there's been non uniform day and bring a present. Didn't get the memo. Was texting friends on Friday at 7am panicking. Had a rummage through the drawers and came up with something to donate. All last minute.

Guilt. Today text message about cake donations arrived whilst I was at a meeting discussing a £35 mil pound fund. I nearly threw my phone across the room. grin Obviously there will not be any cake arriving with my child to school tomorrow.

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