Dear Snarky – Field Day Dumb Assery

Dear Snarky,

 I feel like I’m being extorted! There are two moms at my children’s school who think running Field Day is right up there with curing cancer. The emails and group texts have been insane.

 Right before Field Day we got a lot of rain so the day of Field Day a large portion of the playground area had huge party tents set up like you would see at a wedding reception. My first thought was that it was dumb because why wouldn’t you just move Field Day inside to the gym. The thing that has me seeing red is that the next day an email was sent to all the parents assessing us $50 each to cover the tent rentals.

Are you kidding me? My kids go to a public school so I was curious how they could “assess” the parents and the reason I got was that Field Day is run by the PTA so it’s a PTA assessment that is not school related. Also, if they assess every family $50 the PTA would be bringing in about $15,000!

How do I stop this insanity?

 Signed, Pissed Off

 Dear Pissed,

 What is it about Field Day that can make some parents go cray? And yes the Field Day organizers at your kid’s school have lost their grasp on reality. No one that is fully compos mentis would rent large tents to in order to keep the playground area dry for a school event. A sane person would do as you suggested and move the Field Day indoors.

 Now, onto the egregious move of charging parents to cover the cost of the tents – let’s just call BS on that shady move. You are under no obligation to pay the $50. Being a member of PTA is voluntary and doesn’t subject you to underwriting Field Day cost overruns.

 Furthermore, the principal of the school could shut this down. The PTA while operating independently of the school still has ties to the principal and he or she could object to this whole assessment nonsense. So I’m going to have to say shame on your principal. 

 That said, the fact that any PTA funds will be used to cover the cost of tents is tragic. The funds raised are supposed to go directly to improving your children’s educational experience not to pay for tents to keep the playground dry so some self important PTA member won’t have their dream field day soiled by Mother Nature.

 I advise you to not pay the $50 assessment and to work vigorously to see that no PTA funds are not used to pay for the tent expenses and instead stay earmarked for educational enrichment.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky – Advice With An Attitude  – please email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com. 😉

Dear Snarky – Help Me Say No to the Back-to-School $ Shakedown

Dear Snarky,dear_snarky_logo-1

I’m going through a divorce and money is really, really tight. This has me dreading school starting because as soon as I walk through the door with my kids everyone has their hand out from the PTO to room moms asking for money for school improvements, teacher gift and classroom parties. I need your advice on how to nicely, but firmly say no without sounding pathetic or feeling embarrassed.

Signed, On A Strict Budget

Dear Budget,

You came to the right person for advice. Back in the day I bounced a $10 check to my daughter’s elementary school PTO. Totally not my fault mind you. It was an accounting error.  😉 Now back to you.

My advice is to not be afraid of no. No is not a four letter word. You can use it often and without regret. As in “No, I can’t contribute this year, but I’d be happy to volunteer in the classroom.”

Or “No thank you, I’ve already scheduled my donation to the school.” And you’re not fibbing because your donation could be chaperoning a field trip.

Don’t even feel like you have to follow your no with a “I’m sorry”.

OWN THE NO.

Your basic family needs come before extras like school parties and you have nothing to be ashamed of or to feel guilty about. Now go out there and make it a great first day of school.

*If you have a question for – Dear Snarky – 21st Century Advice With an Attitude – write me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com or send me a private message on my Snarky FB page.

 

 

Four Fab Fundraising Ideas

1fb5387a132366d121e67849c4cedcdaI don’t know about you but right now I’m completely stocked up on gift-wrap, cookie dough, popcorn and coupon books. In fact, just when I thought it was safe to open my door, my email, and venture into the office break room the secondary onslaught of school fundraisers has started. Now, I’m being hit up to buy raffle tickets, magazines and partake in school carnival “underwriting opportunities.” This madness has to stop. Lucky for all of us I have a plan.

The problem, as I see it, is that kids are selling things no one really needs. So to more accurately target the desires of the suburban consumer I have come up, what I think are, four full proof fundraising strategies.

PTA Paint Ball – This would replace the “adult only” school fundraiser. Which is where parents buy tickets to attend a party, with hopefully a hosted bar, and bid on auction items to raise money for their child’s school. While, extremely popular in the past decade, enthusiasm and attendance for these kinds of events are waning. Sure, it was fun, in an, “Oh wow, I didn’t see that coming” kind of way to witness parents, fueled by alcohol, fight over who would be the high bidder on the third grade class basket. But even that gets old year after year.

The Paintball event would allow you, under the cover of “supporting education,” to “decorate” last year’s snooty home room mom with a direct hit and blast away at the PTA president who rolls her eyes every time you ask a question at a meeting.

Get Out of Volunteering for One Year Raffle – What mother wouldn’t want to spend a couple or a hundred dollars for the chance to win a Get Out of Volunteering Card from their child’s school. Imagine the joy and sweet, sweet freedom this would bring you. Anytime you get an email asking for help or get harassed by Sign Up Genius you can just type back, “I’ve got the card.”

Even better, when you feel certain you’re getting bullied by some moms, who have been known to surround the driver’s side window of your car at school pick up, because you haven’t done, what they think, is your volunteer due diligence you can just roll up your window, while mouthing, “I’ve got the card.”

TMZ the Suburbs – For a yearly fee, discreetly charged to your credit card, you can subscribe to a monthly digital newsletter that would be gossip central for your slice of suburbia. Want to know who got a brand new set of “twins” that answer to the name of Double D this newsletter can let you know. Or curious about the neighbor who is “downsizing” but you suspect is in divorce mode TMZ the Suburbs can help. The beauty is anyone can write this. No real-time has to be spent investigating or following leads.

For example, if you publish, “a certain mom with blonde hair that’s says ‘I go to the salon twice a month to maintain this Goldilocks wannabe mane,’ and has an acute fondness for XS Lululemon yoga pants, (even though she should really try going up a size or two, just saying) was seen driving her import SUV away from the local fear of aging Surgical Center this morning” you’ve got it made. Because, you’ve just described more than half the women in the burbs and you know at least one was getting something done. So bingo, you’ve got the Circle of Life of gossip. This is the kind that points a finger at many targets and gives the gift of speculation thus fueling more gossip.

Police Ride Along Auction – I want to do this one so badly I would consider selling an organ to finance my attempt to be the high bidder. I mean, who wouldn’t want to ride shotgun with local law enforcement as, per your directions, they patrol the school drop off and pick up lines? Even better they’ll be issuing tickets to all the idiots and the Rules Don’t Apply to Me parents, whom for years have been wreaking havoc, threatening public safety and your sanity, with their morning and afternoon behavior.

Think of the ecstasy you would experience as the Escalady, who almost every afternoon cuts into the front of the pick up line by backing up her rig right into the cross walk, is asked to not only get out of her car but, in front of all the parents, is issued a DWI field sobriety test, because anyone who does this everyday, after repeatedly being told not to, surely must be drunk or high.

I say we start the bidding at $1,500. Do I hear 2,000?

**For more Snarky check out my book  Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. 

Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good.  Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.  If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you. 

To stay up-to-date on new posts and take part in my not so deep thoughts click on this Facebook link – http://is.gd/iEgnJ (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs.

Dear Snarky – How Not to Suck at Recruiting & Retaining School Volunteers

dear_snarky_logoAs the school year is about to end there’s a topic I decided desperately needed to be addressed – school volunteers. I get a lot of letters from mothers complaining either about how nobody volunteers at their kid’s school and they’re having to do all the work to the opposite end of the spectrum about how the PTA, PTO whatever, is a mom clique that they can’t infiltrate. Well, I’m coming to the rescue with this advice about how to recruit and retain a quality school volunteer team. (As always feel free to print and laminate.)

Quit Being A Control Freak: This is for all the moms who pride themselves on being OCD. Well, here’s the deal – your OCD is making moms run away from helping you in any kind of volunteer capacity. Your freak out over how another mom stapled the school newsletter doesn’t make you look highly organized with a keen eye for detail. It’s behavior that is exhausting to the rest of humanity and makes you look off your meds crazy. When I signed up to help with the Teacher Appreciation Luncheon and then received an email from the PTO with a recipe of what to make AND what brand of ingredients (Whole Foods, of course) I should use along with what kind of serving dish to put it in I can assure you that was my last time to EVER sign up to help with that event.

Be Welcoming: The PTO is not a sorority mixer. It’s also not a country club with membership requirements based on your income or the car your drive. It does not have a dress code or uniform that specifies must look good in Yoga pants to volunteer. The fact that a mother does not wear spandex or drives a vintage AMC Pacer should not disqualify her from your volunteer pool. This type of social segregation leads to chronic volunteer inbreeding and results in having more talkers than doers on your committees.

Parents are Not ATM Machines: If all your school organization is designed to do is shake parents down for money than good luck because you will experience a mass exodus of volunteers after their first year in.

Smile: Oh sure, you say you want everybody to join but you’re not going to get or retain volunteers if you’re chairman of the stern scold. By that I mean using meetings to browbeat volunteers as to why they aren’t doing enough or how last year’s parents were so much better. (Too bad you ran those folks off.)

Acknowledge volunteers outside the school environment: If you want to tick me off, and I mean really tick me off, be one of those moms that is all lovey-dovey to me in school because I took on some job no one else wanted and then pretend you don’t know me when you see me at the grocery store. Really? Like I’m good enough to do the grunt work but don’t measure up as a human being outside of school. Those kind of moms can kiss my help (and something else) goodbye.

Gratitude: Be thankful for your volunteers. They may not be perfect (like you) but they’re free labor and all you’ve got. Appreciate what every mom does even if it’s something as simple (but important) like napkins for the last day of school party. You’re a mom, you know all about getting the best out of your kids now apply those same principles to your volunteer efforts and you’ll be amazed at what happens.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky please email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com