Volunteer parent committees have gone mad and the leaders are acting like bosses.

 

At 9.25am precisely my mobile began to blip. I was working so I ignored it for a while. A few minutes later it blipped again and again.

My curiosity got the better of me I went to check but before I could an email darted up on my screen.

“WHERE ARE YOU?” It was titled in loud shouty capitals.

You are rostered on and have not shown up. We need advance warning if you are not going to do as required. It is your responsibility to find a suitable replacement  (who has completed all necessary paperwork). Could you please explain your absence.  Call to discuss.

Shit.

I’d forgotten. Shit shit shit. It had totally slipped my mind despite five emails, an electronic reminder and a new app I had been asked to download that had notified me three times.

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I had missed my kid’s kindergarten reading group.

Twenty six-year-olds had to contend with only three “parent helpers” rather than four.

Twenty six-year-olds had to play sight word bingo without me.

20 six-year-olds had to play sight word bingo without me.Via Istock.

I’m not sure how I forgot.

We’d had training. (Yes training)

We’d completed the required paperwork, had more emails than Hillary Clinton and, as I mentioned, had been signed up to an app to ensure we all didn’t miss our "shifts."

And still I forgot.

The funny thing is that I KNEW the consequences. I knew the CEO class parent would come down on me like a tonne of bricks. I knew there would be trouble.

I’d done it before.

I knew there would be trouble. Via IStock.

Look I’m not all bad. I try and help out. I ‘volunteer’ for various activities in my children’s lives when I can.

‘Parent helper’ at band, ‘parent committee’ at pre-school, ‘parent official’ at athletics.

‘Parent volunteer’ for raffles and fetes. I’ve turned sausages on the BBQ and covered books in the library. I’ve given time I don’t have much of and effort that I can’t spare and done my bit as best I could.

But what I have noticed more and more is that what you initially thought would be a pleasant experience is actually more like work than you ever imagined - right down to the unnecessary paperwork and the commander like bosses.

You wonder whether those who volunteer to run the parent committees and head up the P&C’s actually forget that when it come down to it this isn’t actually a real job.

Unbeknownst to them they aren't actually THE BOSS.

As a ‘parent helper’ your tasks can vary but they are mandatory and they come with booklets and emails and as much red tape as they could tie you up in.

You see it everywhere though don’t you? That one person on the P&C, those particular ‘officials’ that organise your kid’s soccer.

The parent who has forgotten that this isn’t their office. That you aren’t their employee.

The mother who thinks she's running PwC not the P&C.

The father who thinks he is training the under-six rugby team to wear the green and gold.

They officiate and instruct and take this whole ‘volunteering’ thing way too seriously. They seem to forget that they are running a school committee, not a large corporation.

 

It’s the type of thing you volunteer for without actually volunteering because you see you have no choice. It’s obligatory. Via iStock.

I’m not totally useless, only a week ago I remembered to go to my scheduled once-a-term  ‘parent helper’ role for the school’s band. It’s the type of thing you volunteer for without actually volunteering because you see you have no choice.

It’s obligatory.

You are told when you sign up your child to band that it comes with compulsory parent ‘volunteer’ duties as assigned by the parent committee.

I guess they put the word volunteer in there to soften the blow. To soften the fact that you now have a new commander in chief that you will obey.

A new boss - the parent committee.

Of course its important to help out but the fact is that for some parents it’s pretty hard. If the alternative is to not allow their child to participate then it seems the wrong person is suffering the repercussions.

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What’s even worse is that ‘volunteering’ for most of these activities isn’t in fact volunteering at all any more.

In many cases it is not just compulsory but there are financial penalties if you don’t work your butt off when told too help out.

Some little athletics, dancing, music and sporting clubs throw in an extra payment of $50 (and some all the way up to $250) in membership fees that is only reimbursed if you help.

Yeah volunteering is important for kids.

Yeah my kids reap the benefits but we need to take back a level.

 

Some sporting clubs throw in an extra payment of $50 in membership fees that is only reimbursed if you help. Via IStock.

The volunteer soccer coach making the kids train three times a week needs to remember that the under seven team isn’t running on at Old Trafford.

The athletics club fining parents for not helping out needs to realise that they aren’t at the AIS.

And the class parent signing us up to apps and rosters and scolding us when we do a no show needs to remember that parents are fallible and busy and yes, sometimes a little bit selfish, but this is kindergarten and these kids will be okay if I don't show up.

No need to fire me just yet.

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