PTA: To Join or Not to Join?

The PTA. Some parents would rather drop their phone in a freshly filled toilet than join the PTA cult. Others believe participation in the PTA is the best way to influence sensitive topics that affect the lives of their children (and maybe even get some socially acceptable time away from their families).

Full disclosure: I am not a member of the PTA. But my husband is so I get a recapped, second-hand glimpse into all the gossip and good work of our local chapter. And I volunteer for events. (Even some that my husband isn’t in charge of organizing!)

PTA is full of rewarding moments like kids’ talent shows, science fairs, and holiday shops but monthly meetings can look incredibly close to the school lunch scenes in Mean Girls if the board isn’t careful. It just happens. PTA calls to a certain brand of overachievers and sancti-mommies. Unfortunately, this can be frustrating and intimidating to those of us who lean a bit more towards the hot mess than we’d like to admit on a daily basis.

If you do take the plunge and decide to check out your local PTA, here are some ways to make your first meeting a little less terrifying:

Keep an open mind. The lifer PTA members that have been involved for months, or even years, can seem intimidating. But it’s important to remember that everyone is there for the same reason: they love their kids and they wanted to get away from them for that hour-long meeting.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. As parents, we all know that ‘There’s no such thing as a stupid question’ is a big, fat lie. BUT your question probably isn’t dumb and the only way to learn about PTA is to open up a little bit and ask. Or find a friendly looking member afterward and ask them directly if you can’t muster the extrovert energy during the meeting.

Think about volunteering. PTA is only as good as it’s members so think about volunteering. Something simple to start with will let you try it out without being too committed. If you’re a rookie, look out for a couple shifts manning the table at the annual bake sale instead of offering to coordinate the entire production of the book fair.

Whether you think PTA is for you or are just thankful others do it (so you don’t have to), every school seems to have one. They’re inevitable, like your kid infecting your whole family with a stomach bug the same week you planned a long-awaited girls’ night out. If you think PTA is perfect for you and want to give it a try, go for it! But if you’re just not into it, that’s okay, too. Your kids will be fine, whether you attend a monthly meeting or not.

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