Leaving the PTA (and learning to let go)

27 July 2022
Shula Farnie
Shula Farnie is Membership Sales Manager and formerly a Membership Adviser at Parentkind. 
For me, leaving the PTA committee was like leaving my job. I’d invested a great deal of time in my role as Chair and there was now a void to fill.

Even all the parents that were telling me how much I’d be missed and asking how will the PTA run without you?” didn’t make it any easier for me. It really is hard to let go of something you have taken such great pride in and have gained a great sense of satisfaction from over the years.

The PTA was my baby’, I lived and breathed it for over four years — six months as Secretary and four years as Chair.

I helped start the association from scratch and went way beyond my role description. Some of my PTA achievements I feel extremely proud of include: setting up our first Summer Fete with just an £80 bank balance, helping 300 children (all under the age of 11) make individual Christmas Cakes and decorate them, and the day I somehow agreed to organise two Grandparents Tea Parties for 100 grandparents at each – all with a sit down waitress service – closely followed by two Halloween Spooky Discos for nearly 150 children!

When the time came for me to step down as my child was leaving primary school, it was hard, despite telling myself I couldn’t wait for some time to myself! The thought of watching someone else do what I’d done standing on my head’ for the past few years was daunting. The urge to tell them they were doing things wrong, to interfere or to try and take over again was overwhelming at first – let’s face it I will probably always think my way is best – but I managed to suppress those thoughts.

By joining the PTA I’ve been lucky enough to make some great friends that I know will be in my life for many years to come. Even when your child leaves the school and you leave the PTA you may discover that you still know exactly what is going on in the PTA even though you aren’t even on the school run anymore. It’s a bit like becoming a new mum when your friends somehow decide for you that all they will talk about is babies! My friends that are still active members often tell me what’s happening on the PTA now, just making it that little bit harder to accept that someone else is looking after my baby’.

My Tips for Letting Go

If you are leaving your Committee role but still want to be an active member of the PTA, then stay active. The new committee will be thrilled to still have your commitment as a volunteer to help at events – just remember you are there to help not necessarily run the show!

If you still have a child at the school, and you’re looking for another way to be involved, find out if there’s an opportunity to come into class and read with the children on a one-to-one basis, or maybe you’d like to run a craft class – these are particularly popular around certain times of the year like Easter, Christmas, Mothers’ and Fathers’ days.

When you know you will be stepping down from a PTA Committee Role, start to take small steps back before your final day, particularly if you have been going over and above in taking on more responsibility. Start to delegate those little jobs – yes it may take someone else three times as long, but they will feel a sense of achievement and you will be starting to let go.

The more you take on, the more you will have to let go of. It can be hard to recruit volunteers but there is often someone waiting in the wings who really would like the opportunity to shine.

Every organisation needs new blood’, with new faces and new ideas to ensure the association grows and does not stagnate. Remember that just because someone does something in a different way, it doesn’t make them wrong. Their way may be just as effective as yours.

Be proud of all your achievements, the hurdles you have overcome, the funds raised to provide vital resources for the school and remember the times when a child came up to you and said Thanks for a great disco – I had the best time ever!”

Remind yourself that while you helped to build up a great association, it is now time for someone else to take it to the next stage. Be there for new committee members when they ask questions or need advice, after all you’ve been there, done it and bought the t‑shirt… even if you aren’t wearing it any more.

Read our tips on how to have a happy handover here.

Do you have any tips for saying goodbye to the PTA? Comment below. Keep up to date with our latest news and blogs on Twitter @Parentkind.

This entry was originally published in September 2017.