Volunteeritis A.K.A. The Disease To Please: Back To School Style!

Back to School Madness Button

Welcome to Back to School week here at The Dose of Reality! Other than Christmas, is there any busier time of the year than back to school season? We know that everyone is feeling as stressed and overwhelmed as we are (seriously, between the buying and labeling of the school supplies, we are pretty sure we have a permanent case of hand claw), so we are bringing you a “Best Of” week here at the blog—back to school style! Comments are closed, but feel free to come hang out with us on Facebook where we can share all our best tips for survival together!

It is that time of year again folks. You know the one we are talking about. Our children are still happily getting up to the alarm each morning and filling their still shiny backpacks with delicious lunches. No one is forgetting to sign the reading log yet or complaining about too much math homework. And suddenly, you find yourself with a little quiet time, a little “me” time if you will. This is when the school will pounce. Trust us. Stay strong.

What is Volunteeritis?

Symptoms may include, but are not limited to:

• Always saying yes, even when you want to say no.

• Taking on too many projects at once.

• Neglecting your children under the guise of… “Aren’t I so great for doing all of this FOR you and your school/club/association/project?”

Back to school! Are we all settling in yet? Have the hours your child is in the classroom become the greatest part of your day? [Yes! -Lisa] Do you suddenly find yourself with some free time, and in the middle of it, realize you actually *gasp* miss your kids? If the answer to any or all of the above questions is yes, then you are the perfect audience for this column! [I *knew* it! -Lisa]

VolunteeritisPic1

Prescription for Volunteeritis:
Take a nap and call me in the morning!

I have a feeling that you, like me, will soon find yourself at one or two upcoming Parents’ Nights, a scattering of PTA meetings, or a few Back-to-School events where you will be conveniently placed at some point in front of a table loaded with various sheets labeled “Parent Volunteer Requests”.

Some of these requests will be simple like, “Who can bring plastic-ware for the fall class party?” Some will be a little more involved like, “Who will be the class photographer for the holiday party?” And then there will be a few seemingly harmless requests in there that will *appear* doable (because this is how they will be presented to you) when in actuality they could wind up sucking the life out of you and additionally could have your husband and children considering whether or not you are really of vital importance to the family. [Don't worry, you are. Dance leotards don't wash themselves. -Lisa]

I am here today to offer a cautionary tale to help you steer clear of “volunteering” your life away, or at the very least, to let you know that you are not alone if you are already entrenched in one of these “doable” parent volunteering tasks.

I happen to be, despite how it might seem thus far, a fan of volunteering. One could say I am a bit of an eager beaver, a hard worker, or a go-getter, a personality trait that anyone running any type of project seems to be able to smell from a mile away. I am the perfect candidate for school-related tasks, because I am an involved mom who takes pride in my children’s schools and genuinely wants to be helpful. [aka-- a sucker! -Lisa] I started slowly – when I got involved from day one at Emma’s school, it was under the heading “Bring Plastic-ware to Holiday Party” that I’d sign my name, but little by little, the projects I “agreed to” began to increase in size and scope, until last year I found myself co-chairing our school’s annual car raffle with Lisa.

Tickets in a basket

It was sold to both of us as a project that would take place mostly the following spring and as long as we were organized and prepared, it would pretty much run itself. Famous last words, right? [Yep. "This project runs itself" is the volunteer equivalent of "I've got a bridge to sell you" -Lisa] Strangely enough, we found ourselves at a car raffle meeting before school was even out … you know, like a solid nine months before we had been told we would have any work to do. You could say that was our fault, because we were eager to get some information ahead of the curve so we could be organized and prepared.

But here is the thing that we were not prepared for at all, not even a little bit: This little car raffle, the raffle that was supposed to run on auto-pilot? It did not even have an auto-pilot button, nor, it turned out, a working engine. Due to an unforeseen complication early on, we pretty much had to start at zero and revamp the entire process so that the raffle could actually raise money for the school. So no longer was this going to be only a spring project, but more likely one that required a fair amount of work in the fall, as well. No problem, though, because we stupidly kept thinking that the more organized we were, the more stuff we did early, the less there would be to do at the end.

Yeah … ummm, no.

It should be noted at this point that I am what some might consider a little on the, how do you say it gently, competitive side. So, when we took on this challenge, I pretty much told Lisa that I would do it with her, but ONLY if we agreed from the beginning that we would run the most successful car raffle the school had ever seen. She was all, “Yeah, I am sure it will be good, we can definitely make it a success,” but didn’t seem to get my level of intensity. [A few games of Scattergories later, I had a bit of an idea. -Lisa]

By the end, she definitely wished she had listened a little more carefully that day. So, our little car raffle, that was only going to require work in the spring, started the prior May (albeit briefly), got a little more involved by October (you know, the season called fall) and by January (yes, that would be WINTER) literally had us working on some aspect of it EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

We gave up our Spring Break completely to stuff envelopes, print labels, and put together packets. [Thank you, corner booth at Panera Bread, for being our official Car Raffle headquarters. -Lisa] To our credit, we managed to throw an amazing kick-off pep rally for the raffle sales, which earned us plenty of kudos from the students and the staff, and honestly when you have worked that hard on something, it is quite personally gratifying to be told that you did a great job.

The closest we will ever come to being Oprah on her “Favorite Things” show was telling a gym full of school kids that by selling tickets they could win a gift certificate to Ben & Jerry’s![The kids were actually even more excited than the Oprah audience below! Free Ben & Jerry's definitely leads to hysteria the elementary school set! -Lisa] 

We then spent every single day of the following three weeks counting tickets, spending way too much of our own money at Starbucks [Our happiest place on earth -Lisa], passing out prizes, counting money, and checking and doubling checking spreadsheets … until the final week, which honestly culminated in so many tickets being turned in at once that we counted from 8:30am until 3:30pm, and then resumed from 8pm until 2am, only to begin again the next morning.

But in the end, we did it.

We did accomplish arguably the most successful car raffle in school history. We started and we finished. We had some fantastic help along the way, but really mostly, we had each other, and I cannot imagine having done it with anyone else. [Me either, friend! -Lisa]

Lisa and I both vowed it would be years before we would volunteer again. But much like “the mommy amnesia” that allows you to forget the trials of pregnancy and life with a newborn thus allowing you to have another baby, here we are three years later back on the volunteer scene. We both have a bi-weekly gig in the front office, we have both signed up for numerous party duties in the classroom, AND Lisa has even agreed to chair the Booster Club Membership Sales. But we are out of the car raffle business. Permanently.

Itchy Head + Lice Outbreak=A Mother’s Nightmare: Back To School Style!

Back to School Madness Button

Welcome to Back to School week here at The Dose of Reality! Other than Christmas, is there any busier time of the year than back to school season? We know that everyone is feeling as stressed and overwhelmed as we are (seriously, between the buying and labeling of the school supplies, we are pretty sure we have a permanent case of hand claw), so we are bringing you a “Best Of” week here at the blog—back to school style! Comments are closed, but feel free to come hang out with us on Facebook where we can share all our best tips for survival together!

Bleep Bloop! Bleep Bloop!

I heard this *just* as I was about to step in the shower this morning. My husband was at work and the kids were at school. I thought that weird robotic blooping sound had to be the phone. (We got a new cordless phone for Christmas, and I’m still not used to its bizarre ringtone.).

I investigated and, sure enough, it was the phone “ringing”.

Before me appeared a mother’s most dreaded caller ID: the school’s number.

Now, there is absolutely no *good* reason to get a call from the school number. None. Something has happened. One of the kids is either in trouble or sick. Those are the possibilities (For anything else, you will get an email). I braced myself for the verdict…

“Hello! It’s the Lower School nurse, and there is no emergency!”

I did some quick motherly mental calculations in about three tenths of a second. It’s the Lower School, so it’s got to be about Lucy. It’s the nurse so she’s not in trouble. It’s not an emergency, so she’s not bleeding out. We currently have three epidemics going around school: flu, strep throat, and a GI virus. Although all three of these are heinous, they are not emergencies.

Got it. I was up to speed. Even though she was FINE when she left home, I deduced I was probably about to be on my way to pick up Lucy for having a fever or otherwise being sick. I was sad I was *this close* to actually getting a shower before I answered the phone, but this is neither the first nor the last time that motherhood has denied or delayed my personal hygiene needs.

The nurse continued, “Lucy was complaining to her teacher that her head was itchy.”

Oh, yeah. I forgot to mention the FOURTH outbreak going around the school right now. LICE. Motherf-ing LICE.

Images Courtesy of Gilles San Martin under Creative Commons License www.flickr.com/photos/sanmartin.  How he was brave enough to take these without running away and screaming, I'll never know.
Images Courtesy of Gilles San Martin under Creative Commons License www.flickr.com/photos/sanmartin. How he was brave enough to take these without running away and screaming, I’ll never know.

Okay, you know that I’m a medical professional. I am not at all squeamish about a pus filled wound. I can deal with a bleeding gash on an arm. I can do rectal exams all day long and never think twice. I can eat and have discussions about things that would turn most people’s stomachs. I am exceedingly hard to gross out.

However…

I CANNOT DEAL WITH BUGS LIVING ON MY CHILDREN or MYSELF! BLECH!

Seriously, I’d rather drive through a CARWASH, than deal with a lice infestation. I felt like curling up in the fetal position and rocking in the corner just thinking about it.

Knowing about the outbreak, I had even run Lucy through the anti-lice paces today before school as I was drying her hair.

Me: What are you NOT to share at school with ANYONE?

Lucy: Jackets, headbands, hats, combs, brushes, and scarves. And you can’t touch each other’s hair to do braids at recess. (She’d been busted for this activity last week).

Me (trying to sound very sweet and innocent so as to lure her into a mistake): What if you just needed to borrow one tiny hairband from someone to put your hair up in a pony tail? That would be okay, right?

Lucy: No. I don’t think so.

Me: You don’t THINK so??!!  GAH! Of COURSE NOT! NEVER, EVER use someone else’s hair band. EVER.

Now here I was with the nurse telling me about my daughter’s itchy head. NIGHTMARE.

“So her teacher brought her immediately down to the office here so we could have a look.”

(Of course she did. She’s no fool! Kill me now.)

Dread filled my body. I was envisioning the special shampoo and the de-contaminating of sheets and combing of hair. My own head immediately became itchy. I knew if one of us went down with the nasty critters, we’d all soon fall like dominoes if we weren’t already teeming with them.

“Lucy doesn’t have lice. We looked really thoroughly and she’s fine, but she does have a few patches of dry scalp you might want to do something about. That’s why I’m calling.”

Diagnosis: Dandruff.

I had a heart stopping 2 minutes for….dandruff. Whew. That was a close one but we’re in the clear…at least for now.

All Clear...At Least For Now

Rules For The Carpool Line: Back To School Style!

Back to School Madness Button

Welcome to Back to School week here at The Dose of Reality! Other than Christmas, is there any busier time of the year than back to school season? We know that everyone is feeling as stressed and overwhelmed as we are (seriously, between the buying and labeling of the school supplies, we are pretty sure we have a permanent case of hand claw), so we are bringing you a “Best Of” week here at the blog—back to school style! Comments are closed, but feel free to come hang out with us on Facebook where we can share all our best tips for survival together!

Another school year is about to begin, and this year I have both children in a carpool situation. Heaven, right? Well, it *would* be if people actually followed the rules of carpool. Why don’t we all make a pact right now and agree that we will not show up one minute before school is dismissed, m’kay?! What else would you add to this list of carpool rules?

The greatest part of the carpool line is that basically as long as you have on your sunglasses and some kind of top, you can pretty much wear your jammies to pick up take your kid from school. No one is paying a bit of attention. No one can see you. It is awesome. Throw on a baseball cap and the fact that you have not even bothered to shower that day just makes you look sporty and as if you have come straight from your Pilates class.

Here is what I *don’t* like about the carpool line.

The mothers…and yes, I am talking to you mothers, as you are mostly the ones doing this, sorry, but it is true, who show up ridiculously early to pick up their kids. We will take Emma’s school as an example, just for simplicity sake. Second grade is supposed to be dismissed at 2:50 p.m. Never mind the fact that sometimes they start loading the cars at 2:47 p.m. and I seriously contemplate prorating my tuition check for all the missed minutes of free time education every time that happens. Thus far I have refrained as I don’t think the “powers that be” would find me as funny as I do. Ostensibly, second grade ends at 2:50 p.m.

That isn’t a fluid number people.

It is always 2:50 p.m.

So, there is no reason whatsoever to be waiting at the curb at 2:20 p.m.

Your kid doesn’t love you more because you were there first. In fact, just between you and me, that is going to equal MORE time between school being out and bedtime for drama, tears, tantrums and togetherness. Is that really what you are looking for each day?

You see, when you are there so early, it makes the rest of us who arrive ON TIME, *feel* like we are somehow late, which then makes us have to leave our house or errands sooner, which then leaves us feeling a little bitter and hostile, and honestly, that is probably not the best state of mind for us to be greeting our children at the of their long school day. I am just saying.

Perhaps, we could all agree that barring some sort of emergency after school appointment that requires your car to be pulling away from the curb not one minute past 2:51 p.m. everyone show up at the school assigned dismissal time and then I will no longer have to leave my house a half an hour earlier than I would prefer. Sound like a plan?

In a surprise to no one, my carpool rant does not end there. Oh no, there is more.

Sometimes, as in MULTIPLE times this year, mothers (and yes, I believe it is always mothers) will leave their cars parked against the curb of the carpool lane when they arrive at school for whatever precious, very important activity they have come to assist in, rather than park in the clearly marked visitor parking lot. Because you know, visitor parking is further away from where they need to be to help out with little Janey Sue Hollister McBee’s (this is the South, all the girls have 47 names here) class party, and it might scuff their Jimmy Choo boots to walk an extra 100 yards across the campus. So instead, they just simply park their cars in the carpool line, because let’s face it, they believe it is far less inconvenient for dozens of cars to have to merge into one lane in order to get around their parked vehicle than for their one car to find a space in the actual designated visitor parking lot.

My very favorite carpool sin to witness, though, is so universal that I have seen it done by mothers, fathers and even some random grandparents. These people will arrive after many cars are already in line and will honestly go to the front of the carpool line and then back their car in–right in front of whomever is already there–as if they were the first ones to show up. I know, right? Because anyone in line can see what they did, even me, even if I have taken off my prescription strength sunglasses to read a magazine put in a new DVD for Abby. It is straight up crazytown, I am telling you.

I want to get out and knock on the window and say, “Ummm, hi there, Muffy. You know your car is not invisible and that all of us already waiting in the carpool line can see you, right? I know your little darling likes to be the first one to get in the car at the end of the day and certainly she is entitled to that no matter what time you actually arrive to the carpool line, but that Range Rover behind you has been there since around drop-off this morning so *she* can be the first to afternoon pick-up. You have pretty much ruined her Zen like state and possibly *her* child will now need therapy because he will be the second one to be put in a car.” But of course I can’t say any of that because I made the mistake of arriving to pick-up close to the actual dismissal time thus subjecting myself to being at the back of the line.

Carpool-Stabby

I am sure that I cannot be the only person who has noticed oddities in the carpool line, so I want to hear from you, too. What are your biggest carpool pet peeves? Share them in the comments! Between this blog and the movie Mr. Mom, I feel like we can really put an end to the nonsense!

Would You Rather: Back To School Style

Back to School Madness Button

Welcome to Back to School week here at The Dose of Reality! Other than Christmas, is there any busier time of the year than back to school season? We know that everyone is feeling as stressed and overwhelmed as we are (seriously, between the buying and labeling of the school supplies, we are pretty sure we have a permanent case of hand claw), so we are bringing you a “Best Of” week here at the blog—back to school style! Comments are closed, but feel free to come hang out with us on Facebook where we can share all our best tips for survival together!

Was this post inspired by a search term on the blog?

Perhaps.

Lisa: Oh. My. God. Someone just found our blog by typing “husband wearing meggings”. I can’t even make that up.

Ashley: BWAH HA HA HA! That is so awesome in every way.

Lisa: You just have to wonder what sort of desperation would lead a poor woman to search that. Was it a wife looking to find out if her man is fashion forward?

Ashley: I think she wants to know if meggings are legal grounds for divorce!

Lisa: Can you even imagine if your Robert busted out some meggings?

Ashley: Honestly, no. The only thing that might be worse is if he decided to start sporting a Nubrella.

Lisa: GAH! I can’t even decide which would be more humiliating…to me!

Ashley: WAIT JUST A MINUTE! I have got the next Would You Rather scenario. This is PERFECT. Meggings vs. Nubrella.

Okay, y’all, so we know school is getting ready to start all across the country in a matter of days/weeks. Everyone knows that with the start of school comes Parent’s Night (Open House) in the classroom. An evening where everyone scrambles to find childcare and rushes off to hear all about what their children will be learning that year, while throwing in a little mixing and mingling among other parents and the teachers. Add in a few sign-up sheets for classroom events, and you have yourself an evening of elbowing your way to the front so you can secure the paper good sign-ups fun!

More often than not, my hubby has to meet me at these events straight from work, which got me thinking about this scenario:

It is Parent’s Night. You arrive at your child’s classroom and wait for your mate to rush in at the last minute claiming that he forgot it was Open House and spent too much time updating his fantasy football team had a conference call that ran late. You look up as he makes his way in the door to see that he is wearing meggings.

Meggings.

Meggings
Meggings as pinned from www.fashion.telegraph.co.uk

To meet your child’s teacher for the first time.

To be among classroom parents, perhaps many you don’t even know yet.

OR

You are waiting outside the classroom, tapping your foot impatiently and constantly checking your phone to see if he has texted to say that he is parking and will be there any second. You happen to glance up and see a man walking toward you wearing some sort of contraption on his head. And then you realize. That is your husband. Wearing a Nubrella on his head.

A Nubrella.

28571bd333ec4146664b422901ca104a
The Nubrella as pinned from www.nubrella.com

And it is not raining. He is just wearing it in case the weather turns. And this man is about to go and meet your child’s teacher. And chat it up with other parents. All the while wearing a Nubrella on his head.

So, which is it?

Would you rather have your husband show up to back to school night wearing meggings or with a nubrella on his head?

This might help you make up your mind…

Meggings or Nubrella Roberts

You’re welcome, guys! :D