With three kids, we’re never early to anything.
But somehow, all the stars aligned and I picked out everyone’s “softest shirt” on my first try and we were early to my first grader’s information day. By the time we conquered the insanity of the spirit wear line and added money to his lunch account, only two families had visited the classroom when we arrived.
I looked at the party sign-up sheet – juice boxes and cookies were spoken for, but Homeroom Mom was mine for the taking.
Sure, it was a brand new school and we knew exactly nothing, but as a stay-at-home-mom, being involved in the kids’ school was tantamount. How hard could it be?
A week later, at Back to School Night, my second son’s teacher had a pitiful speech about how no parents had stepped forward as Homeroom Mom. My husband nudged me but I wasn’t feeling any guilt, I was booked! By the end of the night, the spot on her list was still painfully empty and I folded. As I signed my name I consoled myself, saying “this was Pre-K, how hard could it be?”
I was about to find out.
Luckily for my sanity, my oldest son’s school had Homeroom Mom-ing down to a science. Not only did I have a co-Homeroom Parent, but every item needed for every party all year had already been signed up for. Our job was to communicate with the teacher a few weeks before each party and see if she had any suggestions or things to avoid and then send an e-mail reminder to the parents that had signed up for items.
We had a few other responsibilities like birthday baskets for the teacher and principal and getting parents to help rake leaves one afternoon, but it was a piece of cake. I loved being at the parties, I got to know his teacher really well since I was involved and he was still young enough to want to show me and his baby brother off to his friends.
My second son’s school was the exact opposite. These pre-K parties were Pinterest-inspired and parental involvement was overwhelmingly low. With no co-Homeroom Parent to reign me in, I was on my own to jump down every Pinterest rabbit hole I found and decide that every activity was the perfect one.
When I sent my list of supplies needed to the parents a few weeks before the party, I got three emails right away! I was owning it. However, upon opening the e-mails, I had one parent asking which child was in the class and two parents signing up for napkins. As the days went by, things did not improve. A week later I had napkins covered and had talked the second napkin volunteer into bringing cups instead and one grandparent informed me that she always provided goody bags for the class even though I hadn’t thought to include that. And that was all.
Why did nobody want to bring 26 tiny pumpkins and five sticks of washable face paint?
My son’s precious teacher cornered me at drop off one day and asked how the party planning was going. I told her we were still working on getting the items covered. She said “let me know if you have items left over and I will grab them myself”. Being very informed on how much of their own money teachers spend on their students, I knew I would not let that happen.
As I continued sending “gentle reminder” emails, more parents began signing up for things and by the night before the party, we had about 75% of the items covered. I bought the rest. And the party was perfect. The kids had a blast, they ate their weight in sugar and decorated the cutest tiny pumpkins.
A friend asked me at the end of the school year if I was glad my year as a double Homeroom Mom was over, and honestly I wasn’t. Rushing from party to party and trying to remember which class had the peanut allergy and which had the dairy and soy allergy was stressful.
I don’t think I have ever been as sweaty as I was after a Pre-K friendship party and then dragging that sugared up Pre-K student and his toddler brother (who hadn’t napped) across town and through the halls to the first grade friendship party, but it was so worth it.
The nights spent running last-minute errands and making lists and sending e-mails instead of zoning out in front of Netflix were stressful, but knowing that I had helped create a party that was amazing in the eyes of my kids (whether it was Pinterest-worthy or just some Wal-Mart cupcakes on pumpkin plates) was definitely the right decision.
And I know they agree.
*Originally published July, 2018.