5 Ways to Avoid PTO Mom Pressure

by Jess Wolstenholm on August 28, 2018

This summer I joined the PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) at my kids’ school. I figured with my youngest entering kindergarten I’d have plenty of “free time” on my hands. I loved the idea of becoming more involved in our school community and getting to know other moms. I embraced the fact that so much goes into making our school great and thought I could offer a little help to make it all happen.


I quickly learned that the PTO is not for the faint of heart. It’s late night group texts about event details and last minute requests we’re not sure we can pull off. It’s one little thing after another that keeps us on our toes and in the school office more than we ever thought possible.


But I wouldn’t change it for anything.


God has given me a passion for our school community and has allowed me time in this season to give of myself. The PTO is part of my mom-assignment right now. But this isn’t the case for all moms. And that’s okay.


There are full-time working moms whose “free time” is spent catching up at home or simply being with family. There are moms with little ones that make it hard to volunteer for the latest committee. The PTO isn’t for everyone. . .and neither is the role of classroom mom or exquisite lunch maker; costume seamstress or expert birthday party planner.


We have enough pressure on us at home as moms to worry about performing in a public arena. Peer-pressure (even as adults) is never a good reason for doing something and will always lead to a miss-matched mission.


In her book, The Best Yes, author Lysa Terkeurst says,


“Do the next right thing that’s right in front of you.”


Maybe, like me, that is the PTO in this season. Maybe it’s saying “no” so you can invest more time in your marriage or take care of an aging parent. Maybe the next right thing is finally going back to school or volunteering on a committee in your town. Perhaps it’s time to slow it all down so you can take care of yourself and spend time on your relationships.


Whether you feel an extreme responsibility to join the PTO, create a Pinterest worthy costume for the nursery rhyme parade or make fancy (and healthy) bento-box lunches, remember these 5 ways to avoid unnecessary mom pressure so you can make the best decision for you and your family.


1. Own your season.

The wisdom of Ecclesiastes 3:1 is timeless. . .”For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” It’s okay if you don’t have the bandwidth right now to volunteer at school or plan completely organic meals for your family a month in advance. You may do well enough to get the kids bathed and dinner on the table. Every mom has found herself in a season where keeping her family alive is about all she should could handle. As the kids grow older and you find your mom groove, opportunity and ability will open up and you’ll be better prepared to step into an expanding role if you are honest with your limitations along the way.


2. Own your giftings.

Maybe you’re not a great cook but you have a special way of making your kids feel as you embrace them at the end of each day. Own it. Perhaps you stink at crafts but you can read a storybook like an actress on screen. Own it. God has gifted each one of us with unique treasures our family has the privilege to discover. . .if we don’t cover them up with a large load of mom guilt. When you do feel the grace to give of yourself in a public arena, you’ll be a greater asset if you have confidence in what you bring to the table. Most moms feel like they lose themselves as they pour out their lives for their children. But those early years of motherhood can be an amazing season of discovering what we’re made of if we own who we are.


3. Be willing. If and when you feel the pull to do more or serve more, do it. Don’t try to protect yourself from discomfort or hard work. If the call is there, the grace comes with it.


4. Know your limits. Saying yes to the committee or being willing to get more creative with dinner time does not mean you have to become obsessed or overcome by it. One day, one step at a time, follow Lysa’s advice and do the next right thing. Set healthy boundaries that allow you to grow without wilting.

5. Put first things first. No matter what, faith and family first. So even if you said yes to that thing. . .if that thing is getting in the way, it’s time to re-evaluate. Nothing is worth doing at the expense of our spiritual well-being and the health of our most treasured relationships. This isn’t always easy when outside roles or expectations demand our attention, but it’s imperative to keeping a healthy balance.

When we operate with these guiding principles in choosing the next right thing, we avoid all PTO or other mom guilt that tries to tell us we need to do more or be more. Our greatest achievements as a mom will be reached inside the four walls of our homes and I can promise you, they will not have anything to do with the type of meals or parties we produced. So join me in letting go of the pressure and standing firm within the assignment he gives in each season.


I hope I haven’t talked you out of joining your local PTO. The truth is, your school needs you. . .or someone like you. . .your school needs the mom who is called to the task. Just like I’m very sure I’m not called to create Pinterest worthy anything, it’s okay to own your limitations in any area to which you’ve been asked to serve.


Feel free to tell your committee “no” if you truly feel like you can’t in this season but please, if you could, at least pass along another name of someone who might feel the grace to lend a helping hand because, I have to be honest, we’re drowning in fundraisers over here.

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