You have made it through the daycare years and/or the long, long days of having your babies home with you. Now it’s time. It’s time for them to go to school. You have no idea what to expect but are sure of one thing – you want to be a room mom. Surely, it’s not that hard…right?
Last year was my first year jumping into the deep end of leading the Jr. Pre-K room moms at my daughter’s school. I was like: I’ve got this! I cleared the calendar to attend the mandatory room mom meeting. I mean, this is serious business folks. You better recognize! I dressed in a cute maxi dress; one that I hoped hid my fat rolls because I knew I was about to walk into a room of cute mamas. I grabbed my cute designer purse and my Yeti cup and headed out the door.
Tip 1: Be you
I walked into my first room mom meeting overdressed. Yep, I’ve gotta own it. While I was in full face make-up, heels and a cute maxi dress, everyone else was in workout clothes. I literally stared at a chick dressed in two tanks and a tee, shorts and flip flops. As I sat there I felt foolish for trying to impress ladies I didn’t know. Why do women put this much pressure on ourselves? We were meeting in an elementary school cafeteria for goodness sake! What was I expecting? Tuxes and sequins?! Cracks me up thinking about that day! If you are going to be a room mom be the room mom you feel is best for your class. It’s not about how good you look, but how much you care about making the year a success. Don’t try to impress and overdo it! Which leads me to tip 2.
Tip 2: Titles are just that: Titles
I signed up to be the lead mom for the Jr. Pre-K classes, in part because I love volunteering and nothing makes me happier than helping out at my daughter’s school, but, I also had the need to let my daughter know I was supermom – always there for her and ready to save the day. So when the other room mom decided to be more involved than I had envisioned, I had to get my mind right. But realizing that I was bigger than my actions displayed, I got out of my feelings and settled on the fact that at the end of the day we both wanted the best for our babies. After finding our groove we ended up with a much better, more effective year. It all works out in the end so keep it moving ladies! It’s about the babies, not the moms.
Tip 3: Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees
I happened to follow a FA-BU-LOUS room mom. And I will have to follow her for as long as we both volunteer to be a room mom at the same school. When I say she’s amazing I mean she is absolutely fantastic. But my budget doesn’t afford me the discretionary funding to go over the top. I’d love to, but I simply can’t. And that is perfectly fine. So do not compare what you cannot do to what another mom can do. Your job is to plan the Christmas party; don’t stress over not providing all 10 of your child’s classmates $50 Christmas presents. They have parents who will handle that. Balance time and money – what will help the teacher out? What makes her job easier? How can you be of assistance in other ways that do not involve money? My point: both approaches are perfectly fine; neither mom is wrong! Do what you can do to make the year a happy one for the teacher, students, and yourself! Below are pictures from room mom presents I made. Think clearance aisle and cellophane – make it look good.
Tip 4: Communicating with Busy Parents
If you go into being a room mom swearing you are there for the students and not their parents, you have already failed. You are room mom to both! Time your email communications. Do not email during the rush hour drive to/from work when they may see it and forget just as quickly. Email well in advance, a few weeks to remind everyone, the week prior, a few days before and the day of. Like, literally! Call me crazy but my goal is a successful party for these sweet angel babies. I remember being a working mom trying to balance work life and home life and if someone had been willing to send me one more reminder…and then another…I’d have been eternally grateful.
Tip 5: Party “Rules”
- Monday parties – a NO GO! No one remembers cookies over the weekend.
- Morning parties – typically not a good idea as the kids are a mess after all the sugar, so discuss with the teacher. At all costs, work with the teacher’s schedule and/or preference.
- Healthy alternatives – not all moms want donuts at every party! Mix it up – yogurt in fun packaging is a treat for kids!
- Allergies – gluten free, nut free, dairy free. Know them and be aware of them.
- Religion and holidays – be sensitive and inclusive. Not everyone celebrates Christmas but nearly all are ok with a holiday party. Make party titles general: Fall festival, Harvest, Spring Fling; these titles are easier to stomach than Easter and Halloween.
- Working moms – find ways to give the working moms a chance to participate and for those who can’t, for goodness sake, do NOT make them feel guilty.
- Participation – try to vary it. If one mom is always volunteering to bring something reach out to the one who isn’t and give the “always ready” mom a break. You do not want to burn her out.
- Decorating doesn’t have to come from a store. Arts and crafts take some time but do not cost a lot of money. The visual adds a lot of excitement for the party, too!
I have signed up to be a room mom for the Pre-Kers. I’m excited but definitely going in with a much more realistic attitude. I don’t have to be the lead mom anymore. I just want to be a supportive mom. I love seeing the kids happy to have a break from their regular routine and enjoy some good food and let’s face it…sugar! I’ll be honest though: at first I debated it because I worried I wasn’t the best fit. But then I received this priceless treasure and knew I couldn’t go a year without being involved.
Have a great year fellow room moms!!!!!