from California’s Children | http://bit.ly/faxMe4
12/03/2010 - "As local and state economies continue to struggle, budget cuts to rich and poor school systems are increasing the reliance on unpaid parent help," wrote Hilary Stout in Monday's New York Times.
And what's the trend? According to the story, Parent Push-Back. Featured in the story is Jamie Lentzner, a Foster City mother of two elementary-aged children, who is described as "frazzled" by a load of school volunteer activities that left her no time to be with her children, or her self-employment as an interior designer, or alone in unscheduled solitude.
She had already designed the fifth-grade T-shirt, taught art twice monthly to three different classes, and organized movie night, restaurant night and beach night fund-raisers. She was overscheduled and exhausted. She had scant time to help her children with their school projects because — coincidentally — she was always working on projects for their school. “You’ve got to stop,” said her husband, Darin, who worried that the constant stress she seemed to feel was damaging to her health.
Ms. Lentzner realized that she had spiraled out of control. She vowed to put an end to all this volunteering — and to recapture some of the serenity in her family life that had vanished because of nothing more than a well-intentioned desire to pitch in.
Today, more than three months into the school year, Ms. Lentzner is a new woman. She has yet to attend a PTA meeting or decorate so much as a classroom doorknob. When she saw her name listed as chairwoman of the annual Donuts for Dads Day (another event she oversaw last year) on a volunteer sign-up sheet, she whipped out a Sharpie and crossed it out.
“No, I’m not,” she wrote.
Quoting a former PTA president in Los Angeles, Stout writes:
Under the headline “Just Say NO to Volunteering,” Sarah Auerswald, a former PTA president in Los Angeles, wrote in June, “What I am about to say is not very PC, so get ready: Moms, stop volunteering so much.”
Here's Auerswald's opening thesis in that blog post:
I am a Recovering Volunteer. And I am here to spread the gospel of saying No.
I was PTA President of my kids’ school for 3 years, I worked on and ran the Silent Auction for my kids’ preschool for 2 years, I’ve set up blogs for local community organizations, worked on the 5th grade culmination committee, done snack bar shifts for my kids’ sports teams, and sat through probably 1000 meetings in the past 10 years, all as a volunteer.
And while it benefited my community and my children’s schools, I’m sure, it left me a run-down, crabby, resentful wreck. You’ve read about all the women who do for others and neglect themselves? Well, I'm one. And I can name at least 50 people in my Facebook circle who do the same.
Auerswald may not have known that after one is quoted in the New York Times -- thus, becoming famous about telling women to stop volunteering so they have more time -- can be a full-time job in itself. As she wrote in her blog this morning:
I feel like I am in another dimension right now – a very weird, exhausted and yet camera-ready dimension.
It could have something to do with the fact that I woke up at 3am, or that I went to bed at 11pm. It could be related to that fact that I was actually airbrushed* today, not my normal routine at 4am.
It might be because I was on live TV at 7:40am Eastern time (4:30am PST) with Kiran Chetry on CNN’s American Morning show, being asked why I keep telling moms to stop volunteering. Yeah, come to think of it, that was probably it. (Auersbach is on the right, to the left.)
And don't miss Amy Reiter's post on Strollerderby, "Can You Escape the School Volunteer Vortex?" to which we owe the photograph of the cake, above.
also in California's children
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