Hands up which mum is not busy? Hands up which mum would like to spend her Saturday morning cleaning out someone else’s shed, or her Saturday afternoon cooking sausages for someone else’s barbecue?
Oh wow. It’s like a forest of hands out there. Not.
I have a couple of kids at school. And I get asked, from time to time, if I would like to volunteer. Maybe I could come in once a week and be a teacher‘s helper, for free. Maybe I could come and do some gardening for them on the weekend.
Er, no. Sorry.
But that’s not too bad. What’s worse is one of the groups my son is involved with after school. Parents are rostered on to help out once every couple of weeks. Well, I have another kid to look after, and I’m already paying you to look after my son, but sure, okay. But then they also want parents to help out with working bees, and sausage sizzles, and more, and more.
Can I just pay you to look after my kids? Please?
Right now, as a working mum with two kids, I am busier than I have ever been in my life. I need volunteers to come around and help me. My shed is a mess. My garden needs weeding. I would love to have a leisurely Saturday afternoon barbecue. If I ever had a leisurely Saturday afternoon.
Maybe things were different a generation (or three) ago. Maybe stay-at-home mums liked having something to do apart from staying at home and baking cakes and polishing silver cake forks. Maybe dads liked having somewhere to go on weekends to hang out with other men because they didn't feel comfortable spending time with their own kids.
Well, things have changed. I'm trying to achieve some kind of work/life balance, and there isn't room in there for volunteer work. When I work, I want to get paid for it. I need to get paid for it. Sorry, but that's true. When I'm not working, I want to spend time with my kids. Or with my husband. Or maybe - shockingly - with my own friends, doing something just for me.
WATCH a video showing us why parents should spend more time with their kids. Post continues after video...
Does that make me selfish? Yeah, maybe. But I bet I'm not alone.
What I don't like is these constant requests that make me feel guilty. How many other working mums and dads out there are guilted into volunteering when they don't really want to?
I think it's time for a change in thinking. Let's stop assuming that parents will want to give up their time and help out for free.
Yeah, I'll happily pay more for the privilege. I'll pay the $50 lazy parents' levy at the start of the year, or whatever. Just don't ask me to volunteer. Please.
Do you volunteer at your kids' school or with their after-school activities?