Just Say No to Overdoing It

When you’re the mother of babies, toddlers, or preschoolers, people pretty much leave you alone. They know you’ve got your hands full. They understand you’re almost too busy to take breaths between the diaper changes and wine drinking.

When your toddlers grow into grade-school kids, though, the game changes. Completely.

Where your preschool of choice might’ve asked you to lend a hand here and there, grade schools, particularly public grade schools, have a million jobs that need doing for which there is never enough help.

Weekly, I’m barraged by requests for things like volunteering in class, supplying snacks, attending PTA meetings, assisting with the Yearbook, organizing Lost and Found, helping out at a party, etcetera, etcetera. It’s exhausting.

And I’m guilty of the barrage myself. I beg and plead and try to get parents involved in helping me help the school.

The hardest part of being constantly asked to give your time, of course, is choosing which requests to say yes to and which to reject.

Just like every other woman in the world, I have a hard time saying No. But, I’ve gotten better. There are some people I can’t turn down. My friend, Heather, for example, who wrangled me into co-leading a girl scout troop. For the most part, though, I’m able to, when faced with time-sucking decisions, compute lightning fast calculations that go something like this:

Volunteering for sock hop + photocopying Math worksheets + prep work for scout craft = Zero down time for me.

When faced with zero down time, I can pretty easily shake my head and apologize that “I’m going to have to pass on that one.”

As much as I would like to do it all, I know I can’t do it all well. Or sanely. And I’m positive Milo and Belle would rather have more of me, than more of me flitting about the school taping up banners and shelving library books.

I know schools need us. Parent involvement is crucial. I think it’s okay to be choosy is all I’m saying. It’s important to remember that the school won’t crumble to the ground because I refuse a chance to spread mulch around campus on a Saturday morning.


About Angie

Angie (latte constantly in hand) raises her son, "Milo" (b. 2003), and her daughter, "Belle" (b. 2006), in Seattle with her lawyer husband. She is a writer, blogger and graphic designer who is egregiously tall and loves cookies with beer. She alternately struggles with existential angst and the fit of her jeans. Though she wearies easily of answering her son's constant questions and of negotiating with her daughter, she loves being present during their wonder years. One of her biggest parenting challenges is navigating Milo's severe food allergies. If she's not baking 50 cupcakes from scratch, she is reading ingredient labels and tutoring Milo, ad nauseum, to say, "No milk, eggs, tree nuts or peanuts please." Angie can also be found at:

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