How to survive a PTA meeting in 11 easy steps.

Every school has their PTA and as much as some members can irritate to the nth degree, they are a welcome and supportive asset to the school. I myself have in the past been an active member of the PTA (just a minion you understand, no real responsibility!) but since the birth of Bubs have taken somewhat of a back seat. There are always more willing Mums than I these days!!

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Now, don’t get me wrong, the PTA is a vital lifeline to the school – any school will agree (even if the teachers on occasion have to lose their staffroom… and biscuits… to a meeting) they have an important role to play, and it goes without saying that events, trips and sporting events can and are often subsidised by a little pot of funding from the PTA. But, there are some Mums who I have encountered in the past whose lives take the following path of priority: Eat, Sleep, PTA, Repeat. Or as I like call it, Eat, Sleep, Playground Tactical Attack, Repeat.

And, whilst I am grateful to their hard work and dedication, I feel that they should be able to switch off. To enjoy the time us Minion PTA members call…Life. I mean come on, no-one can really survive on knowing the face painting lady’s home number, being on first name terms with the Booker staff, agreeing to wear the local printer’s t-shirt and advertise his business due to the fact he printed out the Summer fayre banner at a cut price. Surely no-one is happy to be more in control and have more awareness of incomings and outgoings of the PTA funds than of their own bank account!

As a voluntary secretary for a toddler group I completely understand how difficult it can be to rally people and turn reluctants into helpers. It’s hard work to encourage parents to run a stall at the summer fayre, to put someone in charge of the ‘Chuck a Sponge’ stand or ice pop sales. Come on it’s not for everyone! The ‘thrill’ of Hook a Duck, the ‘anticipation’ of the ‘Golden Lolly Stick Lucky Dip’, the small matter of engaging with everybody else’s kids on either a pissing down, empty playground event or blisteringly hot summer fayre when the playground actually sticks to the soles of your flip-flops, is not for the faint hearted. And, to be honest we all know that the Dad’s who have been roped in to help, actually don’t care one jot to be on the rota for the beer tent or the barrel-come-furnace which is the PTA barbecue! (the same one you still remember from when you were a pupil at the same school!) The bbq, which like a blacksmith’s fire, either singes your eyebrows from 50 paces or leads to a school closure following a questionable pinkish sausage and mayo that’s been festering in the sunshine all day, resulting in an unexpected bout of food poisoning! I know. I have been there. But, I was not one to let a voluntary committee take over my life!

As I sit back and enjoy my current role of PTA occasional-helper-outer I have noted the best way to get selected for the job you wish to take on, how to avoid being lumped with some job nobody else wants to do, how to stay sane during an event/meeting/fundraiser and above all, Survive a PTA meeting.

Here follows, in 11 easy steps, my offering on how to survive said gathering!

  1. Get there early- suss out the meeting venue, plot where best to sit (see points 4,5 & 6),  tinker with the thermostat, (there’s nothing worse than a winter freeze meeting but equally if everybody starts to swelter then chances are the meeting will end swiftly!) get a tea or coffee whilst still warm and be first to the choccy biccies. Also by saying hi to the General at the beginning you will be swiftly forgotten about once all the others arrive. Can you remember who performed first on the final of Britain’s Got Talent? No? My point proven!
  2. Sit with a like-minded friend. Buddy support is super important. You are there for one another, you’ve got each other backs, you are the knee nudge when the treasurer comes in sporting a new haircut trying to be down with the kids and wafting her newly dyed unicorn coloured tresses about!
  3. Do not drink alcohol (most of our meetings are held in the local pub!). This is of utmost importance. If you wish to escape with no more than a bundle of raffle tickets to sell, stay off the hard stuff!! Too often have I witnessed the unwitting self-sacrifice of a Mum happily quaffing a vino and suddenly finding themselves in charge of booking the dj from the local radio to open an event.
  4. Do not sit at the front. If you do not want to be an eager beaver position yourself wisely. If you are in direct line of sight you will be a) allocated most jobs b) be expected to volunteer c) targeted to suggest others who will be good helpers d) mending the hot water urn when it packs in half way through the evening.
  5. Do not sit at the back. They look there. They specifically look there! And they will find you! Like the teacher who always knew when you wrote a note at the back of class and passed it along the line, they will be on to you. They will hunt you down, embarrass you and guilt you into running the birds of prey tent. Be warned. To them you are the proverbial rabbit in their Red or Dead designer headlights!
  6. Sit behind the PTA “Chosen One”. This is tactical. By sitting behind the Chosen One you will be able to a) offer support for their nominations, b) agree with their ideas (not too convincingly though otherwise you only shoot yourself in the foot) c) look involved from the General’s point of view and therefore be bypassed as it will be assumed you are onboard with the Chosen One’s allotted task.
  7. Offer input to a subject that has already been clearly and safely nominated to another (unwitting) Mum. If not as in point 6, then general support for the Mum in the back row who has been caught slurring her words and now running the tombola.
  8. Take the sprogletts’ Dad with you. The appearance of A Man will throw the whole meeting into disarray!! He will be cooed over, eyelashes will be fluttered, seats will be offered, induendo jokes will be bandied about – Hell, you might even be able to sneak out the back door and leave him there to fend for himself! Just make sure you have given him all the info he will need about all the other attendees, otherwise it’s just like leading a lamb to the slaughter, poor thing!
  9. Again, Do not drink. Stay strong! You have made it this far! You are soooo close to the end, do not give into the power of alcohol! Lemonade. Lemonade. Lemonade. You can drink once home and toast your survival!
  10. Prep kids to arrive 30 minutes from the scheduled end (note I say Scheduled end… the meeting will undoubtably run over at least by 60 minutes). By having the kids swing by following the end of their playdate at another friends house (see point 11) you have the perfect opportunity to up and leave. You have shown your face, been involved in discussions and applied yourself in the role active PTA minion. Now though, duty calls and Motherhood beckons. So, ‘So long’, ‘Toodle pip’, ‘Don’t stay too long!!!’ you call breezily as you soberly float out the door, leaving all those fearful, envious, wine flushed faces behind you, safe in the knowledge you only have a 30 minute stint on the cream tea tent to cope with!
  11. Arrange a play date on the evening of the meeting. You clearly have to be around for all children under your care and would not dream off shirking off your Mummy duties!!

So take heed. Do not say I haven’t warned you!! But whilst I urge you to keep your wits about you when dealing with any PTA event, please also remember that they do do a grand job for the school and your kids. They’re just (sometimes!) annoying.

And pushy.

And loud.

And bossy.

And irritating!

Right I’m off, got to talk to a man about the price of scones!

The Aloha Mummy 🌺

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Don’t drink and babyproof.

Let this serve as a message of both the evils of alcohol and the expectations of babyproofing late at night.

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We’re at that stage again, 10 years after initially living through it with Twins, where Bubs is now a) mobile b) curious and c) a bit of a tinker!

We have different furniture now and as a result all of our original babyproofing mechanisms are either not functional or lost.

It’s taken me longer than it should have to research, compare and order what I though we would need and even then, to actually get around to fixing it all up has taken longer than I anticipated.

It all culminated in, one night, a sudden urge to ‘proof’. This was instantly flawed as the first item I had,  a flexible sticky pad device suitable for cupboard doors, appliance doors and even toilet lid stated in the instructions to remove the back of the adhesive pad and leave for 24 hrs to obtain ‘maximum sticking power’.

Hmmmm. I’d hope just to peel, stick and go. Bob’s your Uncle, Fanny’s your Aunt and Wendy’s your long-lost sister!

But no. That wasn’t going to happen. I obediently peeled of the backing and left for the recommended 24 hrs. Only problem was that 24hrs on happened to be a Friday night. Wine was opened. Wine was drunk. Wine was taking effect.

It was about 11pm when I noticed on the dining table two exposed sticky pads. Now, sober me would have tested the stickiness and carefully aligned the pad and consequently release mechanisms, to the perfect setting, providing easy access for all those with dexterous finger coordination and knowledge whilst at the same time preventing entry from curious fingers and clumsy hands.

I took the pads, stuck them on, gave an extra push for luck and went to bed.

Next morning came the cry of ‘Mum, what’s this on the cupboard? We can’t get to the Wii! ‘ (yes, we still play on a Wii!)

‘Just squeeze the top and bottom buttons and the latch will spring off!’ I replied in my mission accomplished, carefree, hey-ho voice!

‘It’s not working!’

Right! I’ll show them!

Oh. Hang on. It would appear that I had positioned the releasing mechanism directly behind the cupboard handle and there was no not enough space for the full release and removal of the latch part.

Thinking quickly here I opted for the Oh it’s OK we can go in from the other side – routine.

Only, um, no. We couldn’t do that either.

It would appear that on the inside of the cupboard I had stuck the babyproofer way too high and now it was impossible to get anyone’s fingers, even those of a slender 11 year old, on the top release button as there was no space between it and the roof of the cupboard.

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To top it all off it wasn’t even fekkin straight!! Now that’s not me at all! Things are always aligned, neat, tidy, just so. But this was an abomination! An insult to my perfectionist nature; and by gum that adhesive had stuck well!! That whole ‘leave it exposed for 24hrs’ instruction had clearly been correct despite my arguments against it saying how I had expected it to just have to ‘dried up’ left uncovered.

(Either that or it was just sticking even more firmly to spite me. The little bugger.)

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No words were exchanged.

Just a look.

From Twin 1 to me. And then from Twin 1 to Twin 2. Then from Twin 2 back to me.

How could this have gone so utterly wrong I asked myself!  And then I realised the error of my ways.

1. I had drunk 2 glasses of wine.

2. I am a total lightweight.

3. I couldn’t do the proofing in the night I had planned.

4. The proofing exercise had fallen on a Friday due to point 3, and that Friday had unintentionally turned into a Fizz Friday.

4. I had become tired due to my alcohol consumption and just ‘bunged it on’ by only the light of a lamp, on my weary way to bed.

5. I had held little faith in the sticky pads and fully expected them to drop-off over night only to be found the next morning with the sticky pads rendered useless due to the attractions of carpet fluff and passing cat fur.

Luckily, I do have a fail safe ‘tool’ which surprisingly solves a multitude of differing household problems. (You should so get these, they come in pairs and everything!)

The tool I refer to is the humble stick of chops; a chopstick! This baby has unblocked sinks, retrieved keys, finished off spiders in hard to reach places, to name but a few uses, and now it had another skill to add to it’s CV; ‘Outwitter of babyproofing buttons!’.

By sliding the chopstick in above the top release button and under the cupboard roof, thin end first, I was able to slide the rest of it through the small gap and as the chopstick became wider it pressed the release button down. By using my own finger to simultaneously release the underneath button the whole catch fell away with ease and the cupboard could be opened.

Step 1 –

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Step 2-

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Step 3 –

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Taadaaa! I took a bow watched on by two rather unimpressed faces!

So there my friends endeth the lesson! Thought shalt not drink and babyproof! Unless of course you want a wonky, bodged babyproof/childproof/adultproof lock that one can open, or you have a cupboard that you REALLY don’t want get into. Ever again!

The Aloha Mummy 🌺