The art of laid-back parenting

Given my eldest child is not quite four, my interactions with early childhood facilities have only extended to childcare and kindergarten.  I take a fairly laid-back approach.  Not so laid-back that I was happy to send my son to the creche with the kid eating paper under the table but laid-back enough to not be too preoccupied with finer details.  Did he eat?  Great.  Did he sleep?  Okay.

I wonder if this is to my detriment when my child’s name can’t be found on an enrollment list or when there’s no information regarding next year’s program while other parents discuss confirmation letters beside me.  Committee parents stand at the school gate suggesting “oh well if you’re on the committee you get a choice”.

Getting ahead via nepotism is fine.  I get it, I’ve been there.  But do I have to join the committee?  I will sell all my raffle tickets, I will eat an entire box of charity chocolate.  Maybe two.  I will donate goods.  Just please don’t make me man a sausage sizzle.  I know I am probably disappointing many of you right now “well if everybody took that approach where would we be?” and I appreciate that.  I value parents that give up their time and I know many don’t want to be there.

If I’m honest.  Other mothers frighten me.  I once overheard a mum ask what the protocol was for bringing in a cake on your child’s birthday when someone turned around and said “Bring in cupcakes.  Someone took in an ice-cream cake and it was an absolute mess”.  I once made a joke about needing a glass of wine and someone said “well that can turn into a problem”.  Yes thank you fun police, I am aware of that.

Don’t get me wrong, I mostly enjoy the minutiae of dialogue at drop-offs and pick-ups.  I have a favourite Greek grandparent that always opens the gate for me and there are mums who are funny, loud, reserved and interesting.  It’s just that I’m trying to remain laid-back – I see the trepidation in some educator’s eyes that speaks volumes about demanding parents.  I don’t want to be that parent but I’m finding my voice is getting lost beneath the ones that need to know whether the kitchen passed a health and safety check.

Is this how demanding parents are born?  From out of the ashes of a she’ll-be-right approach rises a ten-foot scary poltergeist screaming “WHERE THE HELL IS MY PAPERWORK?!”  I’m trying to keep parenting as uncomplicated as I can.  I’m trying to fly under the radar.  I’m starting to realise that’s not always possible.


Do you take the laid-back approach?  Dare I ask if you are disappointed in my lack of committee enthusiasm?


  1. Twitchy Corner says

    Oh Carli- I really should not be reading or commenting on this subject!! It’s taken us most of this year to settle into two new schools, both of which were sought when original plans went down the toilet after this “laid back” mother and kids were let down by The System. Yes, kindergarten can be tricky (you go get your paperwork, girl!) but we dealt with being zoned out of our 7-year Primary school, despite the tenure and Sibling rule and told only mid term 3 last year we had to go find another one! So many protest letters written, phone calls made and still we were out on our arses. Good news is we found a better one for our girl in the end but not without going through the zoning/ government red tape wars, turning this “laid back” mum into a crazed and bitter lunatic. (And that’s just one kid’s story.)

  2. says

    I never have joined the committee and I never will. It’s not for me. I don’t like mingling with the other mums at school. I do the drop and run from the car. At pick up I park a block away at the corner store and get the kids to start walking towards the corner store and I meet them halfway.

  3. Hannah says

    They have a name?! Committee parents.. I like it.

    I am very intimidated by ‘real mums’, I am definitely not disappointed that you have a hard time with mums.


  4. says

    My daughter is only 11 months so I haven’t had to deal with this yet, but I am abut to start looking for a spot at daycare for a couple of days next year while I work and I’m not looking forward to it, as like you, I’m pretty laid back about everything and have no desire to get really involved ‘parent ally’ if you know what I mean. It’s just not me.

  5. says

    Can you be both? I’m the president at my daughter’s kinder but also have what you would call laid back approach to my parenting.
    Perhaps I’m naive – I didn’t realise there was such stigma attached to
    committees. My reasons for volunteering were more selfish than that – I
    joined hoping to get a break from the mundane madness of being at home with
    a preschooler and an infant can bring. In fact it did – yes perhaps
    more of a workload that I would have liked but I really enjoyed it. Made a number of friends, got to get out at night least twice a month and forced me to step out of my comfort zone often.

    • says

      Of course you can be both! And I’m sure there are some great committees, it’s just that so far (in my limited experience) they haven’t been for me….but now I’m starting to think I could be missing out. Nights out? New friends?

  6. Kate @ Our Little Sins says

    I learnt the hard way and now I refuse to joiin any committees! The laid-back approach works a treat for me.

  7. Manners Maketh says

    I totally understand your non complicated parenting and not wanting to join committees! Although I’m wondering if at some point I’ll want to be part of them, so I get a say on decisions! ( there’s the battle with control and letting go! ) But then I might be up against the scary parents :) I’m only embarking on Kindy and I’m starting to think, is this going to be more overwhelming for me or for my child? I’m a lot like you though…happy to go under the radar for the most part.

  8. says

    I admit, I don’t put my hand up for organising roles at school or soccer. This is because I have witnessed how much is dumped on these poor people. So, I sign up for ‘helping’ roles when big things like school fete come around.

    For day-to-day, I don’t have the patience to listen to little people read, so instead of doing reading groups I spend time each week helping my 6 y.o.’s teacher in any way she needs. I do powerpoint presentations, glue things and mark papers. She really appreciates it and I enjoy helping in this way.

    I think I am engaged in their school life but not so much that I’ve become a demanding parent. I think flying under the radar is completely fine, if you can manage it whilst still doing your bit, like eating two boxes of charity chocolate!

  9. Steph says

    I completely understand your perspective and have experience both in a “standing back role” and also as having an enormous role as President, Treasurer and member of the school P&C and Chair of the school council…. I honestly believe that both roles can be beneficial and both can be detrimental.

    Does standing back mean your child misses out? I guess it depends on the teacher they have and probably also how many demanding parents there are in the class. Does your child fly under the radar because you don’t discuss issues you consider to be minor with the teacher?

    Does being heavily involved make it awkward when you have an issue and you have developed a good relationship with the teacher, Principal and administration – from personal experience yes!!!!

    I have discovered after having five children that there needs to be a happy medium and that the most important thing of all is to understand that everyone parents differently, what works for you may not work for others and vice versa, who are we as parents to say that our way is better than another parent’s?

    There are always going to be the parents that go to all the busy bees and fundraising sausage sizzles and some will happily do it, it’s their social life, there will always be people that go to each event just to see who isn’t there and have whinge about them. There will be parents who don;t go to a single event and as long as you pay your school fees an don’t complain about what people have done, who cares?

    There is evidence that suggests (can’t remember where I read it, probably an old WACSSO newsletter), children perform better if parents are involved, but if you work or have other priorities and your children feel supported and loved then who could possibly say it’s wrong?

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