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Why I Pay to Volunteer in my Kids’ School

I’m not gonna lie. Paying for babysitting stinks.

I want to say that I love paying for babysitters. We have some pretty stellar kids who babysit for us, and they take such great care of our kids. They are responsible and fun, and let’s just keep it real – they do some activities with my kids that I tend to avoid – like painting. Or taking the kids outside in the winter. Or playing imagination with all the little action figures. {Can I get a witness?!}

But here’s the rub – our budget is tight, super tight. Since I pay a babysitter so I can go to work, there’s little extra to pay a babysitter for date night or a girl’s night out.

But I do fork over the babysitting moolah so I can volunteer in my kids’ school.

You probably think I’m crazy to pay a babysitter so I can volunteer in my kids’ school when I have a hard time affording babysitting for a date night. However, enrolling our kids in public school this year was a weighty decision for our family, and my husband and I agree that being involved in the kids’ school is important enough that we’ll budget for a babysitter.

Do you spend time at your child's school? There are a million little things pulling for your attention as a parent, we know, but this is one place where your investment may have a big impact, on the environment, on your kids and on your own heart.

Do you volunteer in your kids’ school? If not, try it out!

If you already volunteer, keep at it!

You don’t have to join the PTO or plan every party! Know how much time you can commit and start small. Right now, with two smaller children at home, I can only give a couple hours one day a week. It’s okay to start small. (Need some ideas of where to start? This will help.)

Studies have shown that when parents are involved in their kids’ school, kids exhibit better behavior and parent involvement contributes to better academics, but for us, the reasons we volunteer in our kids’ school is more personal.

Why it’s worth it to Pay to Volunteer in our Kids’ School

1. You will observe the people your kids are around all day, every day – teachers, staff, students. When I’m in my kids’ school, I observe interactions, pick up on behaviors, and overhear conversations. Being there is like turning a black and white picture into color. I can see more fully and understand more completely. I’m given the gift of perspective, so when my kids come home talking about their day, I can match up personalities, mannerisms, and faces to names. The stories seem more alive, the picture more clear because I know and interact with the people they’re mentioning. When you volunteer in your kids’ school, you’ll better relate to your children and have more understanding in how to guide and encourage them.

2. New relationships are established. I love to see my kids’ faces light up when they see me at school and sneak in a hug as their class is lining up, but I also love that my kids’ classmates know who I am. I receive so much joy when I see a big smile and a friendly wave from one of my kids’ classmates or when I hear, “Jack’s mom is here!!” I also have time to chitchat with the teachers and staff in a more informal atmosphere. I want to be a blessing to those who are investing in my children. I want to get to know them and learn their stories. I’m at the school to volunteer, of course, not sit down for a heart-to-heart, but through volunteering, I have an opportunity to get to know these individuals a little bit better and start building a relationship with them.

3. You will see your kids in new situations. When I sent my kids to public school, I was worried I wouldn’t know my kids as well. With so much time apart, would we grow apart? However, being in the kids’ school, observing how they interact with their peers, respond to their teachers, and adjust to settings outside the home, gave me a fuller picture of who my kids are. I was able to see firsthand how my kids acted when I wasn’t playing the role of lead authority.

Being with them in the school opens up new conversations at home and builds shared experiences between us we haven’t had before.

4. Volunteering helps others. Having been a teacher before I had kids, I know how overworked teachers are, and I’ve experienced what a huge help volunteers can be. I want to take on some of the busy work needed to be done to allow the teachers to teach. If I can help lighten the load or be a blessing to those at the school, paying for a babysitter so I can volunteer is worth it.

5. Your kids will appreciate it. Well, they might not admit it. In fact, the first few times I volunteered, a stranger wouldn’t know I was related to my kids! They were a bit shy and reserved, adjusting to Mom being at school. I actually wondered if it was worth it to pay a babysitter so I could come volunteer! They told me, though, when we were all home together how thankful they were to have me in their school, with their class during the day, even for a short period. On days I can’t come in – due to a sick sibling or canceled babysitter, I recognize the disappointment in their voices and on their faces. Your kids might not ever express their appreciation at having you in their school, but by being there, you are demonstrating to your kids they are a priority and you care.

6. I can pray more specifically. I pray for my kids every day, and every week, I meet with a small group of moms to pray for the school, teachers, students, staff, administration, and board. We pray for the families represented within the school, and we pray for our kids, too. Volunteering in the school, and the relationships being built while I’m there, provide insight as to how I can pray more specifically for the school and the people there. Of course God knows the needs even if I don’t, but what a blessing it is to pray specifically and see God answer specifically!

Volunteering in the kids’ school is worth it. So worth it, in fact, I pay to volunteer!

What about you — do you volunteer in your kids’ school? If so, how are you involved? If not, what keeps you from getting involved?

Because of grace,

Erika // erikadawson.com

By the way – just this week I started a Facebook group for Christian parents with public school kids. If you are looking for support and encouragement as you disciple your kids through a public school setting, c’mon over and join us!

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