Should You Get Involved With the PTA?

Advice from Our Wisdom Panelists


The PTA at my daughter’s school approached me to join in a leadership position.  I’m nervous about joining due to the stereotype of PTA Moms and the amount of work it will be for me.  I am a stay at home Mom with a side craft business.    Asked by Julie – Orange County, CA

Amy C.I think it depends on the PTA.  If the people involved are level headed and genuinely care about the school, it can be very rewarding to volunteer in a way that has such an impact on so many children.  You’ll get to know the kids better, the school staff better, and really understand how your school ticks. That can be incredible (I’ve been involved in PTA, can you tell?).

That being said, it’s always in your best interest to ask for specifics about the amount of work involved in the position that you are requested to do.  Some positions can be much more time consuming than others, it’ll be good to understand what you are signing up for.

As for the stereotypes, I say ignore them.  If we listened to stereotypes, no minivans would ever be sold, no kid would be signed up for sports, and every stay at home mom would be watching Oprah and reading Us magazine all day.  Women are much more multifaceted than that.  Amy C. – 40 Something


Amy BrownI have limited experience (on purpose) being involved with the PTA for the same concern of work load. My perception is that both the workload for PTA leaders and the politics of navigating parents and school staff can be high, so best to go in with your eyes open. That said, I would have to assume that there are benefits to the role as well. Expanding your network, making new friends, gaining new skills, being in the center of the action – if these are things that are of interest to you, it’s worth considering. I’d get clear on what time commitment you feel you can make, and talk to past leaders to see if that’s realistic or not. Good luck in your decision, and congratulations that you were approached – that in itself is a compliment!  Amy B. – 40 Something


Life CoachYour time is precious and it sounds like it’s important that you feel you are using it in a way that makes a difference for the school but also does not leave you feeling that you are stretched too thin.  It sounds like you might need more information about the time commitment and the people you will be working with – is there a way to get some additional information before you make your decision?  And then, if it seems like too much to commit to at this point, maybe there is a way that you can help in other ways for this year and perhaps step up to a leadership position next year when you learn more about what the position entails?  Remember, you don’t have to say yes to every request.  Jamee – 40 Something


annGlaserThere are many ways to be involved with the PTA.  I suggest not jumping directly “on board” with the PTA but first to start with committee responsibilities.  Choose to do something you are really interested in and then dive in-but not in a leadership role at first.

If you have already tested the waters with lower PTA responsibilities, make sure that your position is something you are passionate about.  Being on the PTA can be very time consuming.  It can also feel like you have joined an exclusive club-and depending upon the women involved, you will be welcomed and ushered into the group ceremoniously, or be treated as the pariah newcomer.  It is a great way to make lifelong friends.  If you do join the board, you do not have to be in charge of every event.   It is ok to say-I can do that event, but I’m not available for that event.  Unless you are the event coordinator!  I was the PTA Art Coordinator for many years at my daughter’s school.  I had a prior commitment on PTA school board nights so I was never at the meetings.  I would just send in my report and have someone else read it. The board was still appreciative of my work and I was able to keep both commitments.   There are many ways to be involved.  Make it your own way.  Ann – 50 Something


louisePietrafesaWell, the good news is that your peers have observed that you have organizational skills.  However, you are smart to consider the time you might spend in doing the job they have recruited you to do.  So, I’d recommend that you find out who had the job last year and talk with her (or him) about the time commitment the job requires.  Then you  just have to decide if you can manage it along with your business and family demands.

I don’t want to neglect your comment about the “stereotype” of PTA Moms.  I’m not sure what that means but let me say this about when we worry about what others think: we have no control over assumptions that others might make about us.  So, letting that go and doing what YOU want to do with your life is the way to go.  Otherwise, you risk living your life according to what you assume others are thinking.  Ask yourself- is that the way you want to live?  Louise – 60 Something


heleneTozierYou have 2 full time jobs, being a Mom and running a business on the side.  It is OK to just say NO due to time constraints and no further explanation is necessary.  There is nothing to say that you can’t volunteer to HELP with specific projects (i.e. school fair, bake sale, or parent teacher night) but you can only do so much well and the PTA is not your priority.  Learning to say No is a huge step in learning your limitations and to not become a people pleaser.  Helene – 60 Something


Marge G.This is a volunteer position, right?  Key word, VOLUNTEER.  That means you can quit any time you want if you find accepting it to be an unwise choice.  Ask yourself if you really want to do this, and if it is something you would seek on your own.  If not, chances are you are a bit flattered that they approached you, but aren’t exactly slap happy about the amount of work you know it will entail.  Forget the stereotype—you are a big girl now—and run the numbers as to how many hours a week the job realistically will take and see if your schedule is flexible enough to accommodate the required time.  And, most importantly, if you are willing to spend that time on interests other than your own.  On the positive side, this opportunity could present new challenges, offer you chances to hone your people skills, help to increase your self-awareness, and give you some insight into the politics and organization of your daughter’s school.  Not a bad trade-off if you decide to take the plunge.  Marge – 70 Something