I have a confession: I’m THAT mom.
You know, the one you see up at the school all the time, putting up bulletin boards, making copies, and helping out in the classroom.
I am privileged to get to spend lots of time volunteering at my son’s elementary school but I’ll be honest — I didn’t know what to expect when I first got involved. I want to share some of my tips and tricks to make your life as a School Volunteer Mom so much easier, along with some of my favorite brands to help keep you on track.
We’ve partnered with Women’s Choice Awards to spotlight some super awesome brands this Back-to-School season. You can download a free booklet filled with hacks for food and fashion on their website. And Walmart will be hosting fun events where you can get tons of free samples — check out this list to find a nearby Walmart hosting a Back to School Event!
When you’re headed to the school to volunteer, it’s important to dress comfortably but also professionally. Some mornings, it’s all I can do to get my kid fed and dressed before we have to be out the door. That’s why I adore Signature by Levi Strauss & Co. jeans — they are stretchy, comfortable, and they look great on every body type.
They also make great jeans for kids. My son is tall and skinny, and the jeans look awesome on him. I love knowing that he will be comfortable throughout the day, while looking great.
Just like one of the kids headed back to school, I have a backpack that I use to carry my supplies each day.
For me, it’s so much easier to have everything in one place just in case I need it — I have some pens, highlighters, sticky notes, paperclips, markers, and other office supplies inside a pencil case in my backpack. I also like to keep a Luna Bar stashed away, just in case I need a quick snack or pick-me-up. I can’t tell you how many times I find myself lost in a project, working through lunch, only to realize how hungry I am. Problem solved!
I also make sure to pack some yummy kid snacks, too. If you have younger kiddos who “help” while you volunteer, snacks are a great way to keep them occupied if you need some time. I like to have some Earth’s Best Sunny Days Bars on hand. They’re perfect for younger kids and taste great.
Other things I like to keep in my backpack include fun erasers for rewards and prizes, pencils, a portable phone charger, and my planner.
Don’t be the mom that has to scrounge for loose change in the bottom of her purse to get a drink from the vending machine in the teacher’s lounge. Come prepared and stay hydrated while you are out and about.
My go-to drink is Bubly, a refreshing can of sparkling water infused with fruit flavors, with no calories and no sweeteners. There are 12 flavors to choose from — grapefruit, orange, strawberry, mango, apple, cherry, lemon, blackberry, cranberry, raspberry, peach, and lime.
My kiddo likes to stay after school and play with friends on the playground every day, so I try to have a quick snack that he can enjoy. School is hard on kiddos, and mine always comes home ravenous.
For him, I pack Sensible Portions Veggie Straws, a snack-sized serving of airy, crunchy Straws that combine garden-grown potatoes and ripe vegetables to form a better-for-you snack. They are gluten-free, non-GMO, kosher, cholesterol-free, and have no artificial flavors or preservatives. I usually have several bags of these because they’re a favorite of the younger siblings on the playground, too. I feel good sharing with my son’s friends (with their parents’ permission, of course) because I trust Sensible Portions Veggie Straws.
For me, I keep a bag of Popchips ready, just in case I need a snack, too. There’s nothing worse than finishing up a project at the school and realizing you didn’t take a break to eat. All of a sudden, it’s the end of the day and you’re famished. Your kid doesn’t want to leave the playground. And you kind of enjoy getting to hang out with the other moms and having some adult interaction for once. Just bring out the Popchips and you’re good to go.
Maybe you really like to create fun bulletin boards, or you enjoy sorting copies into teacher boxes. Perhaps you like tutoring students to help with their reading or math. Or you could have a passion for checking in and replacing library books. You won’t know what you love until you give a bunch of different things a try.
Do you have a full day? There are still plenty of ways to volunteer at school. Maybe you could cut box tops from home, or prepare pieces for art projects. You could help seek donations for the carnival or stop by early in the morning to put flyers in teacher boxes.
Does your child’s class have a Room Parent? Find out who he or she is and contact them about helping. Make sure to sign up for the PTA or PTO — they coordinate the volunteers at many campuses. Offer to help other classes and teachers — last year, I volunteered to bind the Mother’s Day Recipe Books for all of our kindergarten classes. My son was in first grade, but I remember getting the Recipe Book for Mother’s Day and wanted to pass the joy on to other families.
For a long time, my son would cry anytime I would leave his classroom or want to go home with me when my volunteering time had ended. We developed a special hand signal that we can do when we see each other — even if it’s across the room during an assembly — that lets him know that I love him and miss him and will see him soon.
Sometimes, I’m in the middle of a project and he will come up and try to talk to me or ask for a hug. I make an effort to put down what I’m working on and turn my full attention to him. He is the reason I’m there, and he should feel like the most important thing in my world.
The days are long, but the years are short. Time flies when you’re having fun. They may be cliches but they are true. The elementary years will go by quickly so enjoy this time as much as you can!
You can learn more about the products I’ve mentioned — and even more great items! — at the Back to School Events at your local Walmart. And don’t forget to download the Women’s Choice Awards booklet sharing all their fun food and fashion hacks for moms!