How Do You Communicate With Parents?

One of the most frequently asked questions and dilemmas that I see on the Girl Scout Moms forum at Babycenter.com is communicating with parents. There seems to be issues for some leaders because parents do not check emails.  In a recent post, some parents requested phone calls for notifications because they did not want to communicate via email.

Personally, I only communicate by email.  I have a routine-the Monday before the meeting I send a reminder about the meeting, and I send another on Thursday.

That’s it.

Once I had to make phone calls because our canned food drive took a bit longer than I had anticipated. and the parents were happy to leave them for an additional half hour.  Since I already had three moms at my house, I only had to call a handful of others.

I have four part-time jobs, two from home and two outside the home.  Today I am working three of them.  I simply do not have the time to call eight other people to remind them of something, when there are so many efficient ways to communicate.   We no longer live in an era where phone calls are the only option of sharing important information.

Some leaders set up their own private websites, while others text message. Still others send home reminder notes.

You must always keep in mind that you are a VOLUNTEER.  How things work for your troop has to revolve around what is best for YOU.  There should be NO GUILT involved.  If someone has an issue with how you run things, she can either change her daughter’s troop, create her own troop, or be quiet about it.

I am very lucky to have a supportive group of parents, but I realize that not everyone is in the same boat as I am.

How do you communicate with your parents?

 

12 thoughts on “How Do You Communicate With Parents?”

  1. I communicate via a private group on Facebook. So far it has worked out very well, but I am dreading the day I have a new girl whose parents do not use Facebook.

    1. That is another great option! I do have one mom who does not check her email frequently. I will send a text if it is an urgent matter, and that only happened once. Leaders have to run a tight ship or else these things can cause burnout.

  2. I use e-mail and our shutterfly site. I have several parents who just don’t respond. It is incredibly annoying to have a girl not come to a meeting because her family apparently can’t use a calendar much less read their e-mail. I like your NO GUILT in bold above. I will take that with me to my Junior meeting today 🙂

    1. Beth, thank you for your response!

      It took some time for me to get over feeling guilty about a girl not attending, but age plus a lot of life experience has taught me that I am not responsible for other people’s calendars. My troop is unique in that 8 of my 9 girls attend the school where we meet, and I see the other moms on a regular basis at school events or PTA volunteering. The girls are always asking my daughter about Girl Scout events and such, so she is indirectly helpful in keeping the girls informed because they are in her class.

  3. I have a private Facebook page for our troop with a Facebook email address so that I can kill two birds with one stone. I email and have that Facebook page on the distribution list. I do have a couple of Moms that I have to text but usually its only for important stuff. I have 18+ girls in my troop, a full time job and four children (including the husband) at home to take care of. I can’t be making 18+ phone calls too.

    I also have a shared calendar on google so that if anyone uses an iCal they can have it automatically updated for them.

    1. That is a terrific solution! I truly believe that we are already going above and beyond simply by being leaders. We do it for our daughters and for the others. It is in our best interest to make sure that we take our role as leader seriously, yet it cannot overrun our lives. Whatever we have to do to make it work is primary. If someone is unwilling to communicate in the way that works best for us, then that is the person who owns the problem, not us.

  4. I have a large troop, 23 girls, and it’s always been a large troop. My first year I think we had 18. We set up a Facebook page to organize the activities and the first year we had a lot of complaints because some of the moms didn’t use facebook or didn’t check it that often. I ended up making phone calls, sending texts, sending emails and all other kinds of craziness. I swore never again.

    The next year we continued with the facebook page but I set up the blog for people who didn’t use facebook and told them to “subscribe” to it so that they’d get an email whenever I posted something. I made it clear that I wouldn’t be calling people unless it’s an emergency or a last minute change of plans.

    I post everything on facebook, important updates on the blog, and text reminders the day of the meeting. My new phone allows me to text to groups so I only have to write one text and hit “Send to GS moms” so it’s not a problem.

    1. Using text messages the way you do is very convenient! As I said before, you have to do what works best for you, and sending out important information should only be done the way you wan tit to be done. After all. you are the one who volunteered her time!

  5. I am a 5th year leader (and our community Volunteer Support Coordinator). A few years ago, when I had Brownies, I set up a Shutterfly site for my parents and let them know that this was going to be the primary method of communication. I can send email from this site and all our events and troop meetings are posted on the calendar which I set up to send reminders several days in advance of a meeting or event. Understanding that we all have a zillion things going on, especially when it comes to 5th graders, I will on occasion when we have several events coming up, write up a one page reminder with all the dates and important info they need to know for each event and hand it out at meetings so that parents can post it someplace. Then I feel relieved of the responsibility to constantly remind parents.

    But I am very lucky that I have had most of my girls since they were Daisies and my parents are wonderful and understanding. And I’ve learned which ones might need an extra reminder at a meeting just in case they didn’t read their email. :0)

    It works so well for my troop that I also set one up for our Community and our community team utilizes it as the primary method of communicating with leaders and for all leaders to share information with each other.

    Lisa

    1. I am like you, I have had my girls since they were kindergarten Daisies. Although I see my moms less frequently than I used to, they respond to my emails (well, all but one, but I make an exception for this because the mom is frequently ill.)

      I never thought to use a Shutterfly site, it sounds like a terrific idea.

      Reading everyone’s posts reminds me of just how much work we do that goes unnoticed by many of our parents (although not all). Thank you for sharing your ideas!

  6. Like Beth I also use Shutterfly. At the beginning of the year I set up a troop website. I love their calendar feature. All of our meeting dates are listed and I set it up so that parents get an email reminder (from Shutterfly, I don’t have to do a thing) 2 days before an event. I update the calendar regularly for all our events and even put RSVP dates there as well. I used to do a newsletter after every meeting (which also included important dates) but being so busy I haven’t done one in a while. I do have parents tell me they don’t read the emails – but that is the only way I communicate with them.

    1. I am glad that you have something that works for you. Shutterly sounds like it has really cool features.

      It is a shame that parents do not read emails, but I feel that when I send mine out, my job is done. I cannot make them read something for their own child!

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