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Struggling Work At Home Mom Expected to Help Out at School

Updated on April 17, 2012

How do struggling work at home moms cope when expected to help out at school?

When a work at home mom may have just started her home business or is still struggling to find enough time in a day to work hard at improving her income, she dreads hearing from the school her children attend that she's needed to help out at a school function. What does she do? How does she cope? Is she able to get out of it, so that she can spend time working instead?

Will the school and the other parents think badly of her when she is perhaps the only one or one of very few who don't help out on the day? Or will they understand that she risks ending up homeless if she doesn't stay home and work? Or will they think she just doesn't care about showing her children support by getting involved in the school?

Perhaps she wants to help out at the school whenever the school needs her, but she can't until she is earning more and has more free time available.

"But the event is on a weekend," the school and other parents might think, "doesn't she take weekends off?"

Unfortunately it is often only other struggling or hard working work at home moms that may understand what a dent 3 hours helping at the school may put into a struggling work at home mom's earnings.

It may embarrass a work at home mom to tell the school that she can't support the school on the day that she is needed to because her finances are so bad that she needs to stay home and work instead. To avoid embarrassment, she may even opt to help out on the day, and then sleep only three hours that night after first catching up with work.

How can schools help these work at home moms?

Hats off to the school my children attend! Other than for a mom who unexpectedly takes ill on the day, my children's school has a brilliant arrangement. The arrangement suits those who simply aren't interested in helping out at their child's school, who may have already booked a weekend away, who may be attending an important family event at the same time, or those who simply cannot afford to help out on the day, like some struggling work at home moms.

The school's arrangement is that each class or grade of the school is allocated an annual school function or school event that the parents of that class or grade are expected to help out at. The parents of any other grade are "off" the rest of the year, and are not expected to help out at any event other than the one they've been allocated. Of course they may still attend the event if they so choose to, or if their child is involved in it, but they don't have to help out at the event.

Then it's taken even a step further:

There may still be some parents who are unable to help out on their allocated day, for whatever reason.

The school has an Interact group - older children, mostly, who are members of the group and who try raise funds to help non-government organizations, non-profit organizations and charities. If a parent cannot help out at the school when they are supposed to, they can instead choose to donate a small amount to the Interact group, who will use the money to help non-government, non-profit organizations and charities, and a member of the Interact group will take the place of the parent and help out at the school event.

The amount the school asks parents to donate to the Interact group is less than many work at home moms can make in about 2 hours of hard work. This is an appreciated and wonderful arrangement; a win-win situation for all:

parents who can't help the school out at an event are excused from their obligation;

the Interact group makes some money;

the money is donated to those who need it


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    • Teresa Schultz profile image

      Teresa Schultz 5 years ago from East London, in South Africa

      Thanks for the comment, Giselle - yes, the school's brilliant idea and system for this certainly helps anyone who is simply not able to help out on the day of the event - for whatever reason. Glad you found it original and interesting!

    • profile image

      Giselle Maine 5 years ago

      I think that your child's school has a great idea there to help make it easier for parents to know in advance what is expected so they can plan accordingly. Actually, although I can see this being a help to WAHM's like you said, it is equally helpful to working moms, and even stay-at-home moms who may have a busy schedule of other volunteer work planned. Thanks for writing on this original and interesting topic.

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      We base far too many decisions on what others might think of us, rather than what is correct and proper. If you can't do it, then just say so.

    • Teresa Schultz profile image

      Teresa Schultz 5 years ago from East London, in South Africa

      @WillStarr - thanks for that - saying that an explanation is not necessary - I think perhaps too few struggling work at home moms realise that!

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Decide whether you can or cannot participate, and then go from there. You owe no one an explanation.

    • Teresa Schultz profile image

      Teresa Schultz 5 years ago from East London, in South Africa

      @ elle64 - yes, that makes sense to me - thanks for your comment!

    • elle64 profile image

      elle64 5 years ago from Scandinavia

      I think being a mum myself ,and working as well I try and give a little back to the school when there is functions on, but I Know there is a fine line living on the breadline, and worrying about being able to help out in school.Did that make sense?

    • Teresa Schultz profile image

      Teresa Schultz 5 years ago from East London, in South Africa

      @ diogenes - thanks for that old saying - it's interesting in that I agree with it to the extent that busy men and women just seem to manage so much in so little time. However, when it comes to choosing between helping out in the community or ending up being a person needing help, choices become a little more difficult to make. Perthaps no woman is that busy that she can't help out in her community for a few hours, yes, but she may not be able to afford to spare even a few hours - if she gets her work done, and grows her income, she may get to the point where she can dedicate many many hours to the community.

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

      "If you want to get something done, ask a busy man/woman, a man/woman of leisure has no time!"

      Wonderful old saying. No women is that busy she can't find a few hours to help her community.