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!!
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!
- 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!
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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!
- 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!
- 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.
Right I’m off, got to talk to a man about the price of scones!
The Aloha Mummy 🌺