The late Spring semester time period is a rough one for all PTO volunteers and leaders since the end of the school year is so close. Yet at the same time, we know just what lies ahead- the jam packed spring to Summer Break, with about a million and one thing packed into schedules before that time comes.
And this last mega sprint comes when we’re already tired from everything we’ve done during the year until this point. The school dances, the concession slots, the many, many meetings. We’re ready to be done already!
Sometimes, it’s not that clear that you’re on the brink of overwhelm burn out, so this post will highlight some signs to be on the lookout for since it might be time to pull back from your PTO. Because it’s better to avoid getting to the point where you’ve stretched yourself so stinking thin that you’re completely broken, and end up quitting and walking away from your volunteer role.
Know that these signs are not really bright blinking red warning lights, and are somewhat subtle indications that it’s time for a break from your PTO role.
Running Ragged from Volunteering for your PTA / PTO Too Much
If you’re feeling like you’re running from one thing to the next, with little time to take a breath and recover, this is the first big warning sign that you might be doing a little to much and that it’s time to pull back from PTO things, even for just a bit.
As the rock star volunteer that you are, it’s pretty easy to agree to things because you’re so capable, you know you can handle it all. But sometimes things become more than you anticipated and if everything starts to consume your life, then that’s when the trouble begins. Things can quickly get overwhelming and devolve into burn out. And that’s just not a good feeling at all. So before you get to that point, realize that a bit of a slow down is in order.
Feeling Like You’re A PTO / PTA of One
Another sign that it might be time to pull back a bit from your PTO role is if you’re having a hard time getting volunteers. And this is a toughie since you personally might not feel like you’re doing to much, but this is a huge red flag that you, in fact, are.
And this is because other parents have the impression that everything they see you doing for the PTO is what is required and expected as a PTO volunteer. And they decide that they cannot possibly live up to the requirements or expectations. So instead of raising their hand to help out as a volunteer, they stop dead in their tracks because they believe that they have to offer and what they can contribute will never be enough.
And that’s such a shame because every contribution is so valuable and the PTO is made of the collective contribution of all parents, teachers, staff, administrators, students and community members and it literally takes a village to make what PTO does happen!
This is not to blame you for going above and beyond, but is an unintended consequence of being so awesome. If you suspect this is why you’re low on hands to make the work light, then pull back and redefine your PTO role for a bit. At least until you get a bigger volunteer team on board.
The last warning sign that it’s time for you to take a break from PTO is when you’re procrastinating things on your PTO to do list (more than what’s usual for you!). This isn’t always straightforward since you may naturally tend to procrastinate, so it’ll be up to your judgment whether or not the degree of procrastination has breached normal levels.
But if you find that you’re putting things off, it may because you need a break before diving back into that PTO to do list. So take the night off and give yourself some grace that it’s ok to take the break. No guilt for this either!
Is It Time to Quit Your PTO / PTA Volunteer Role?
Now when I say pull back, I don’t mean to quick resign or step away from your role.
I mean to take some time to get yourself together. It doesn’t have to be anything drastic- perhaps a day or two will be enough do the trick. Watch a show and relax, go for a walk and do something nice for yourself in the form of a little self care. Being intentional about carving out some time for yourself is an energy booster and can give you what you need to power through the rest of the year.
Another way to pull back without leaving your role is to reimagine your role and lower your personal bar. For example, if you’re the Staff Appreciation Chair, maybe skip the step of personalizing the water bottles you’re giving during Teacher Appreciation Week and give the water bottles as they are. The teachers will still love them even without the personalization and will be grateful for such a thoughtful gift. And you will have saved yourself a ton of time, even if you’re a Circuit cutting, vinyl weeding wizard.
So the goal of making the teachers and school staff loved and appreciated will have been met, even if you didn’t do everything like you’d initially planned. And that’s something to be proud of.
Take a Break, Don’t Walk Away from Your PTO Position
When you feel like you’re at your breaking point, don’t talk away from your role. It’ll leave the rest of your group scrambling to pick everything up and you probably won’t feel very good, knowing that. Instead, pick up the phone and let your fellow PTO buds know that you need some help. Delegate tasks, don’t ghost people and leave them wondering what’s going on. No one will fault you for needing help.
Watch This Video for a Deeper Dive!
Over to You!
Hope this post has given you a heads up about three signs to be on the lookout for knowing when it’s time to give yourself a break from PTO. Every leader needs this from time to time and there’s no guilt in claiming this for yourself!