Working moms can too participate in the fun of being a room parent. You don't need to be a superhero to do both -- just organized.
Below are a few helpful hints on how to be an effective room parent while maintaining your sanity and your "real" full-time job.
1.) Communicate frequently and clearly. Parents actually love to help but, most of the time, they just don't know what to do and where. As busy people, parents just have neither the time nor patience to dig through stuff or inquire about how to help in the classroom -- so spell it out clearly and have it easily available.
2.) Set up an online group site and email.
Use the Internet and set up a classroom site online. With a shared calendar, online sign-up sheets, shared to-do lists, roster management, photo sharing, etc., online group sites
are the best and easiest way to keep everyone on the same page and informed. Some of services also have integrated email distribution lists that help remind parents of events, tasks, etc. (But do NOT spam. While email is very tempting as a communication tool, do NOT send out more than one room parent-related email to the parent. Any more than that, parents will tune your email out -- "mental spam filter."). Keep emails short and concise with links to sign-up sheets, calendars, information, etc.
3.) Delegate, delegate, delegate. By signing on as room parent, you are not volunteering for every event and every task -- you are the organizing person, not the only do-er. So use sign-up sheets (online is best -- ubiquitous and real-time) frequently; it's the best way to communicate with other parents what is needed, when, and where.
4.) Communicate frequently with the teacher. Make time each week to spend 10 minutes with the teacher to discuss upcoming events, needs, and activities. Some teachers even prefer to connect via email since their classroom time and afterschool time is very hectic.
5.) You are a room parent, not a therapist. Don't try to mediate problems between families and teachers. Don't take sides. If there are issues, lead the family to the correct school staff (e.g., learning specialist, school psychologist, principal, etc.).
6.) Collect a classroom slush fund. If your school allows it, build a classroom slush fund at the beginning of the year. Ask the parents to contribute $25 dollars to the fund to cover various expenses during the year, including special event expenses, costumes for plays. Any money left over can be used for the end of school year or holiday gift.
7.) Share photos. Parents love photos. Use the online group sites or other photo sites to share photos of events.