AIBU to expect other Mums at toddler groups to at least smile or say hello??

(62 Posts)
Cakebaker35 Fri 03-May-13 14:21:27

Sorry for slight rant but I'm just so surprised by the rudeness of some other Mums. I always just say Hi or smile at people when going to groups or classes, I don't want to come across as a needy weirdo looking to attach myself to people instantly, but honestly isn't it just polite to say Hi and if that becomes a conversation then great? I'd like to make more Mum friends but I'm getting really put off some of these groups, I only go as my DD enjoys playing with the other children and as she doesn't go to nursery/childcare I think it's good for her socially. Should I just not bother?? Any tips on making friends? Starting to lose my confidence a bit.

Beamur Fri 03-May-13 14:25:10

Toddler groups crushed my confidence too! Some groups are cliquey, some seem downright unfriendly but now with hindsight, I think it's more to do with tiredness and hormones (yours and theirs!)
My best tip, try and be friendly yourself, help out etc, and if that still doesn't make any headway try another group, or go somewhere that you don't see repeat cold-shoulderers, your DD probably will not mind playing with the same or different children. Try your library for tots sessions, or playgroups at local churches (you don't usually have to be a church goer)

thermalsinapril Fri 03-May-13 14:27:46

YANBU. I wish you'd come to some of the toddler groups I went to, where hardly anyone said hello! It was like being invisible sometimes, and you'd get strange looks if you tried to make friendly conversation. Very strange!

everlong Fri 03-May-13 14:29:05

Have you tried MN local? smile

TattyDevine Fri 03-May-13 14:30:14

Go with a friend? 2 people are less scary than one, and people on their own might be attracted to an already established "group" that isn't too big.

mrspaddy Fri 03-May-13 14:31:46

No YANBU.. this would really put me off. But then not everyone has good manners. What is the harm in a smile and how are you???

Kasterborous Fri 03-May-13 14:32:12

I know exactly what you mean. Me and DD go to a few and I haven't made a single friend in three months of going. I know it's partly me and I do talk to some of the other Mums there, but some completely ignore me. Another of my gripes is when they leave their changing bags on all the chairs rather than underneath. I just remove them from the chair now if I get the chance to sit down. I only go for my DD she loves it and smiles at everyone.

EarlyInTheMorning Fri 03-May-13 14:33:43

Cakebaker, YANBU. Toddler groups can be soul destroying. Try not to take it personally though. Persevere. Do the right thing by being polite and friendly and eventually it will pay off. I didn't do that. When I encountered what you've just described I adopted a blank stance and tried not too appear too friendly, heaven forbid I may come across as wanting to make friends!!!

thermalsinapril Fri 03-May-13 14:36:20

I had more luck at groups where there was some kind of set activity involved.

Dolallytats Fri 03-May-13 14:37:23

Toddler groups can be tough!! Sometimes you need to visit a few before you find one you like. It can also take several weeks of going to the same one before you are comfortable. And remember, there are always that stick to small groups, but there will also be mums just like you. They may be a little shy which is why you have to give it a bit of time.

LexiLoganberryBump Fri 03-May-13 14:37:27

YANBU I had this too, your told to go to baby/ toddler groups meet other mums and make friends.

I was in a completely new area and didn't know anyone so wanted to make friends but it seemed that the women at the groups I went too already had their friends and didn't want to let anyone else in.

CloudsAndTrees Fri 03-May-13 14:40:17

Toddler groups are hard work.

I found it easier to make friends at the more structured activities where you pay by the term like tumble tots and swimming classes. You see the same people every week, have time at the beginning and end to talk to people, and it's just easier to find a decent conversation when you are there for an actual purpose.

It always helps to compliment someone's child in some way, people never respond badly to their PFB receiving a compliment.

jacks365 Fri 03-May-13 14:44:35

If i don't smile to strangers at toddler groups then i apologise now but after one too many comments because i'm an older mum i really can't face talking to strangers anymore.

isitsnowingyet Fri 03-May-13 14:47:28

YANBU - people should at least say hello. Different groups do vary though. I went to one when we lived down south, and was literally older than every other Mum there - so really didn't fit in easily. Having said that, I did continue to go any way (had to get out of house with 1 year old who loved the toys there) and did make friends with one of the young Mums there who was v. nice. It just took a while and a thick skin before people would start to recognize and say hello to you.

WhatDoesTheDogSay Fri 03-May-13 14:48:28

YANBU. Another one here who found similar. My LO seemed to pick up on my discomfort too and was affected by it so he hated the groups, and that made it even worse! People are just really crap sometimes.

needaholidaynow Fri 03-May-13 14:51:43

I know exactly what you mean! I go to a toddler group once a week and although I'm not there to make friends, I still act like a decent person and crack a smile/ say hello. I have tried making conversation in the past but it goes nowhere and I end up looking like a tit. I'm younger than the other mums there so they probably think I am a bit inferior to them. Oh well.

The leaders are lovely though and when the male leader is there I always have a natter with him smile

Wylye Fri 03-May-13 14:54:11

It can be hard work, but keep plugging away - people come and go in phases, maybe the friendly ones have been away and will turn up next week!
I stopped going to my nearest toddler group after a few goes - all the mums were clearly very happy chatting to each other and just blanked me. It got v boring, so I gave up. My neighbour tells me they've moved on and a bunch of friendly people are there now, so I shall try again next week! Plus DS has improved his social skills a bit so I shan't have to helicopter quite so obviously

Wylye Fri 03-May-13 15:01:15

needaboliday just saw your post about the other mums being older - it's the other way round here! The cliquey mums are all much younger than me and made it clear they thought I was too old/'posh' for them, one implied that I shouldn't really be there. hmm
I've tried two other groups which seem to be full of older mums and they were far nicer to me. Bizarre, no reason for it.

Peevish Fri 03-May-13 15:01:33

I hear you, OP. I've recently moved to a village a long way from where we used to live, and am working from home with a one year old. I'm not needy or desperate to make a New Best Friend, am friendly to everyone at the two groups I go to (non-driver so can only make those two, so no possibility of going further afield), but have been a bit taken aback by the dead-eyed stares from some mothers. I will greet them, say hello to their little ones by name, compliment them - and get ZERO in response. A hello if it's a good day. Grr. And I'm a Londoner. I'm supposed to be the unfriendly one!

HamAlive Fri 03-May-13 15:09:00

Do you live near me OP? I'd love some local friends! I agree with having more success at set activities.

RawShark Fri 03-May-13 15:17:19

Any dead eyed stares on my part are due to exhaustion . And if I tried to smile when like that you'd runa mile from my strange rictus like grimace. So don't get put off toddler groups and keep trying x

CailinDana Fri 03-May-13 15:18:39

I run a toddler group and i really go out of my way to welcome new people. I smile say hello ask names etc but with some people it really is like pulling teeth. The new person has to make an effort. I can't stalk around after after them making them talk!

Cakebaker35 Fri 03-May-13 15:23:46

Thanks all for your reassurances that I'm not a total nutter :-)
Interesting to hear about ages too, I am 36 and I wonder sometimes if being a bit older than some of the Mums in these groups is part of if, but who knows.
I think part of the problem is I was amazingly lucky to meet some lovely Mums at our NCT group and still see them, but as they are all back at work and I've decided to be a full time Mum it would be nice to make a few more friends and make sure DD socialises lots.
HamAlive, thank you! I live just outsid Oxford so let me know if you are local.
I will keep plugging away at the groups and probably give up on a couple that are just too soul destroying!

LimitedEditionLady Fri 03-May-13 15:29:44

I seemed to be the youngest im in mid twenties when i went.noone spoke to me,said hi,nothing.felt lonely and put me off.i had this preconception people would welcome new people but wasnt the case.

thermalsinapril Fri 03-May-13 15:35:07

"The new person has to make an effort."

Of course. But when it comes to the new person having to approach people, it's more polite for the established members of the group to come and say hello and welcome to the new person, isn't it?

rubyflipper Fri 03-May-13 15:45:25

How far outside Oxford are you?

needaholidaynow Fri 03-May-13 16:08:41

Wylye it's a shame that people exclude others based on their ages, or find it difficult to speak to someone older or younger than the others in the group. Like many others that get ignored, I just tell myself that I'm there for my son's benefit and not my own, apart from seeing my son have fun.

MiaowTheCat Fri 03-May-13 16:34:07

I've had worse than being ignored.

Been going to the local Children's Centre one since DD was tiny (she must have been about 4 weeks at the most)... so it's not as if I'm the newcomer either.

Group of mums started going a couple of weeks after me, and they've always been cliquey as fuck - but lately they've really taken it to new heights (and it's not just paranoia - I know other people have commented and complained about it and the staff are trying to find a solution).

They used to lay out about three mats with different activities on and parents would kind of make a circle around the one they fancied - and the clique would generally nab one and completely and totally blank out anyone else who dared to sit there and try to strike up a conversation (and we're talking complete total rudeness, not just an "I didn't hear what you were saying" type deal)... that was tolerable - just started trying to time when I arrived to see which area they'd laid claim to in order to sit elsewhere and praying they'd all run out of maternity leave.

Then for some reason it ramped up a bit - they moved the layout around so you had one central area of activities, plus a U shaped alcove where the bulk of the baby toys tended to be stored... and they decided they wanted to hog ALL the baby toys apart from the large focus activity in the centre of the room - and things got VERY unpleasant - in that, not only would they hog this area, and turn their backs physically on people they didn't like - but they'd glare at you if your child dared to crawl into that area, basically making it so you'd end up frantically distracting your child and praying they didn't go over as it was so uncomfortable.

I'm not the only one who's noticed this - it's pissing the staff off as well and they keep rearranging the room to try to stop it happening... plus half of the women I DID know who went there have stopped going as they've gradually driven all of them out - I'm one of the few remaining who hasn't given in yet, but I'm getting close to that point.

It's bloody pathetic - and, especially when it's a publicly funded children's centre, it's fucking wrong and it makes me very angry that grown women can behave like this - not so much the ignoring other mothers - that's their perogative - but when they're trying to make it so only THEIR babies can use the toys - that's when it gets too far.

Footface Fri 03-May-13 16:37:46

I went to a baby group, people were so rude, didn't even smile, but dc's liked it. There was this one mum who would look at me like I was a piece of shit on her shoe.

So I started to bit smile and now she wants to talk to me. Weird

Wylye Fri 03-May-13 16:41:02

Miaow shock Wow they've got some nerve.

needaholiday weird isn't it - I put it down to the younger women perhaps not being confident enough to approach a stranger, whereas at 35 and lots of public-facing jobs, frankly I'll speak to anyone!

At one group tho, a lovely new lady just came and plonked herself down next to us and struck up conversation, wish more did it! She was great, as were her DC.

needaholidaynow Fri 03-May-13 16:46:39

Miaow it sounds like those women need to learn the basic rules of SHARING. Not a good example to set their little ones at all. It baffles me how grown women choose to behave like children.

I find it odd that women are so rude to other women. I have only been to one toddler group which I now help to run and its always being said what a nice friendly group it is. If someone new comes along then we always say hi and introduce our selves and the mums are always having a chin wag. I just don't understand cliqueyness but must admit the baby group I went to when ds was under one had a lovely bunch of mums but I just knew I wasn't included. They'd always be talking about the different days out they'd gone on which I was never invited on though they were nice enough to my face.

I'm lucky in that the group I go to happens to be held in the community room of my older dcs' school, so alot of the mums and dads have children either in nursery with dd1 or in p1 with ds (or both) and I knew them anyway. I have been to groups in the past though that were extremely cliquey and some of the mums were just horrible.

I never cared either way as I am used to being the "different" one as I have piercings and tats and odd clothes and hair (I assume that's how they view me anyway grin) but I have always just introduced myself to everyone and if they aren't interested then that's their loss <shrug>

It's a shame that the parents (do you not have any men there? We have a few dads at our group) aren't making the effort to talk to you but perhaps they are shy? Why not just strike up a conversation and if they aren't interested then stuff 'em cos they will be missing out on the awesome friend that you could be to them smile

MiaowTheCat Fri 03-May-13 18:34:46

To be honest I've hit the point lately where I've been going purely to not be forced out and to see what they get up to next really!

HeffalumpTheFlump Fri 03-May-13 18:57:01

I'm pregnant with my first child and was really looking forward to meeting new mummy friends at baby groups... Now I'm not so sure!! I hope the ones near me are more friendly than the ones you have described!! I thought that having motherhood in common brought women together, I don't understand what someone achieves by excluding people and being cliquey! sad

The last one I tried, DS was playing with (well, smacking a ball with) a little girl about the same age quite happily. Het mum looked at us both, looked me up and down, then scooped her DD up and moved her away sad. No one spoke toe at all, or appeared to hear anything I said. They also completely blocked the snack table, so DS couldn't sit down and were rather arsey about moving enough for him to do so when I asked them to.

I gave up on them after that. We go to the park now. In 30 minutes I spoke to more people than I ever had at the groups

Bloody phone. Sorry. You can get the gist though...

Kasterborous Fri 03-May-13 19:13:43

Hi Cakebaker35 I live not far from Oxford and I'm 40 so an older Mum too.

Misspixietrix Fri 03-May-13 19:14:51

Oh YNBU! This put me off for a while with both DC's. Everytime I dared say Hi or to start a Conversation anyone would have thought I'd just asked them for their Bank details the looks I got! grin.

Hope you manage to find a nice non-cliquey one. I agree with PP's, is there a friend you can take with you? make it less intimidating as it were? ~

Misspixietrix Fri 03-May-13 19:17:46

Horrace that's so sad sad I think us Adults could sometimes learn a lot from how Children so easily make friends smile we mainly go to the Park nowadays, and Soft Play on my really brave days! ~

ChairmanWow Fri 03-May-13 19:30:15

Sorry but I don't buy the tiredness excuse. I've been on my knees with exhaustion and still managed to find the energy to at least crack a smile. I've sometimes used it as an icebreaker - 'I don't know about you but I'm knackered!'. It's just rude to ignore someone, tired or not. Also find it a bit weird that a pp said she didn't sometimes doesn't speak to new folks because of one too many comments about her being an older mum. Why go in the first place then? Btw I'm 40 and haven't had a single negative comment. Not everyone is weird about it. Again, not an excuse for rudeness unless someone actually makes an inappropriate comment

I'm on my second bout of mat leave and after going to a breastfeeding 'support' (hah!) group which was being treated as a coffee morning by a group of mums with 6 month olds, who blanked me and the one other woman there who were actually experiencing probs with breastfeeding I vowed not to go to any baby or toddler groups. I hated them last time.

Stuff I did find successful were buggyfit classes, swimming and baby massage. Made some great friends from those that I'm still in touch with 2 years on. Activity-based groups are absolutely the way forward.

buildingmycorestrength Fri 03-May-13 20:03:38

Do you live in my old village? I ended up moving, it got to me so much.

Now I live in a place where mums smile back and happily make inane chitchat because THAT IS NORMAL.

MrsRogerSterling Fri 03-May-13 20:21:04

I'm lucky in that the primary school my dd1 goes to has a playgroup on 2 mornings a week straight after drop off so when I take dd2 I recognise a lot of the other mums from the playground. I also go to one at a church but I go with a friend so have never felt uncomfortable even though people tend to stick in their own little groups at that one.

stopgap Fri 03-May-13 20:23:17

How odd (and unfortunate). I've made lots of mum friends at groups and classes (but I live in NYC, and people tend to be very, very outgoing).

Exhaustipated Fri 03-May-13 20:39:23

YANBU, but IME the key is just to keep showing your face. Just keep at it, and unless it is a very unusually unfriendly group you should either
A) find someone nicer than the non smilers or
B) discover that the non smilers were actually tired/stressed/depressed/shy and are actually quite nice after all (or at least willing to chat)

But this can never happen unless you keep plugging away for a good few weeks, whilst perhaps trying another group in case it really is as unfriendly as it seems!

Cuddlydragon Fri 03-May-13 20:48:10

Oh god, YANBU. It's as if defending their clique from incomers is all important. Grim. I kinda think if they're rude and impolite it probably means that's what they might be teaching their kids.

Chottie Fri 03-May-13 20:49:12

This is sad to read! I can't believe there are so many unfriendly,cliquey people around. But it is years since I went to a toddler group.

Would anyone consider setting up their own group? Now that summer is here, could you put up some notices and arrange to meet at such-and-such a time at a local park? or coffee shop? I'm just wondering how many other mums have been put off from attending toddler groups. Even if just a couple of people turn up, it would be better to have a couple of smiley, friendly people than a room full of ignorers.

SleepOhHowIMissYou Fri 03-May-13 20:50:17

So glad it wasn't just me excluded, can totally emphasise here.

Panic not though, it does get better once they start nursery/reception and the Mums realise that they're stuck with your company in the playground for a good few years to come; more effort is definitely made!

hokeycakey Fri 03-May-13 20:53:15

Yy exhaustipated I completely agree, I am preg with dc4 so have years of experience! You just have to keep on, smiling & chatting, I know it can feel like a massive effort sometimes but it also pays off.... Some people are just arseholes, I don't really know why with some people but on well.

Recently I also started volunteering to help out setting up/ making the teas or getting the toys out & that way you have to talk to people

Good luck it will get better, maybe try some different groups too

starlightloz Fri 03-May-13 21:10:28

I am sad so many toddler groups are so unfriendly. I run three groups a week and try really really hard to make sure every person is made to feel welcome and I try to get to know their children and include them in all the activities. There is often a change over of people who come along though so worth it to keep giving it a go. I have trawled through dozens of groups and definitely some are extremely hard work hence I started to run the ones I do, to try make sure other Mums didn't have such tough times.

nailak Fri 03-May-13 21:16:48

but the established members dont see themselves as established members, they just see themselves as someone who needs a break so is going to toddler groups to let their 2 year old run around while they can put their feet up and have a moan to their friends.

sometimes i make an effort to go and chat to new people when it is their first session. generally the childrens centre worker will introduce me or point the new person out to me, sometimes this doesnt happen and i might not even realise there is a new person because i dont know every single person who has ever come to the group, or i may just be exhausted myself!

Mnetter111 Fri 03-May-13 21:38:02

Definitely post on your local mumsnet, I did after struggling for 2 years to make any mum friends (working fulltime didn't help I admit) and I've met some lovely mums and it has made my life a lot better.

Littlehousesomewhere Fri 03-May-13 22:25:13

Yes I completely agree. Some mums at these groups are so cliquey and ignoring of 'outsiders' or are so sullen and grumpy with everyone. It is so hard to find one with the friendly and positve vibe.

I persevered at one for awhile for dcs sake before realising that I didn't want them socialising with children whose role models where so antisocial and rude.

Since then I have been more discerning and choose gr

Littlehousesomewhere Fri 03-May-13 22:27:53

Yes I completely agree. Some mums at these groups are so cliquey and ignoring of 'outsiders' or are so sullen and grumpy with everyone. It is so hard to find one with the friendly and positve vibe.

I persevered at one for awhile for dcs sake before realising that I didn't want them socialising with children whose role models were so antisocial and rude.

Since then I have been more discerning and choose groups that are more structured with organisers that are more proactive. This means travelling further and paying more but I think it is worth it. Try others and don't put up with rudeness, you and your dc are worth so much more than that.

MummytoKatie Fri 03-May-13 23:14:21

I like baby / toddler groups on te whole. It generally takes a while to get to a point where people are familiar and you feel comfortable there but I find I usually get there.

Generally they are better if there are organisers who are just organising (ie don't have their own kids). As then they can keep an eye out for new comers. I generally try to but I'm usually in the middle of my most welcoming smile when dd decides to try and stick a pen / toy / cuddly toy up her nose and I have to run off and rescue her.

Also better if there is at least one set activity as you can then sit and do it and is therefore easier to chat.

Having said that I can remember times when dd was about 8 months old where I probably wasn't very friendly. Dd was teething and didn't sleep for more than 30 mins at a time (followed by at least an hour of screaming - repeat all night for a couple of months) and I really couldn't remember how to have a normal conversation. I could talk and I could listen but couldn't really process both at the same time. So you either got a monologue or silence from me. I must have seemed very weird!

Beamur Fri 03-May-13 23:59:35

Just to add - few years down the line now - a lot of the Mums I met at the local toddler group are now fellow Mums at the local school and in the main, it's much easier to chat and get along with them now. We all have a little shared history even if we aren't best mates.

MiaowTheCat Sat 04-May-13 07:38:39

Sometimes time and persistence just aren't enough - in my case - the women they've hounded out have been going ages, started at a similar time to the clique and it's just been systematically taken over... they've recently co-opted a couple of women they like into it, but there are about 6-7 women who they really want to stop coming so they've got the whole thing to themselves and they're very open about it. Makes me angry since a couple of the ones they've taken a dislike to are very much of the social group that SureStart was actually first designed to help (indeed if I wanted to I could argue that I could be included there since I've got a history of pretty nasty mental health and also previous social services involvement in terms of that malicious referral)... they don't like the more rough and ready mums and they'd like them gone too - but the staff seem to be really trying to protect them (justifiably so - but they shouldn't be having to do that).

I go because DD1 loves it and loves the room to crawl about more freely (our house is tiny) - I get bog all out of it myself these days (I know the clique is why the other women stopped going since I've run into them all in town of late), I just put up with it for the sake of the girls.

Hell they've even now got it set up so that the STAFF don't feel able to intrude on their little ignore the kids and sit and chat party! It's ridiculous and I've complained informally about that and another issue - but I'm actually almost to the point of wanting to make a formal complaint about it all. I can go along to stuff, smile and break down barriers over time - but what's going on locally is just fucking malicious.

Travelling further isn't really an option for us - no transport during the day - it takes me almost an hour to walk to the CC as it is!

SizzleSazz Sat 04-May-13 07:49:22

I met my 3 closest friends at our toddler group (new area for me so I needed to make new friends). I did start going when dd was only a couple of months old though (needed to get out lol) so maybe easier to strike up conversation about a baby?
6 years on and we still all meet regularly smile

I know some can be very unfriendly, but others are great!

Cakebaker35 Mon 06-May-13 13:39:21

Wow it is great to know I'm not alone but sad too there are so many miserable, ill mannered people about! Glad to report that not all the classes, groups etc i have been to have been so bad, just this one in particular which really wound me up so I have decided to ditch it and keep going to a few others.

I have to remind myself I am really lucky to have a great NCT group I still see, so there are nice normal mums out there too, and you all sound like that so I'm feeling more positive! :-)

Kasterborous and rubyflipper I am in Abingdon so if you're nearby then message me - any other friendly locals too :-)

rubyflipper Mon 06-May-13 14:59:33

Alas, I'm in Banbury so a bit too far out.

Glad to hear you're ditching the moody group - life is too short for all of that!

C999875 Mon 06-May-13 17:34:04

No it isn't unreasonable to expect a hello or a smile. I would have caused them no pain or hardship would it. For as long as there are mums there will always be cliques, sadly.
I was never part or included in cliques (don't know why) and yes I would be lying if I said it didn't bother me. I am a human being of course it did. We all want to be popular don't we. However there was no way in hell I was going to stop taking my daughter to mother and toddler groups she enjoyed going and that was the end of it and she had just as much right to be there as the children of clique parents did. xxx

Cakebaker35 Wed 08-May-13 13:41:54

Just a bit of an update for you - ditched the old group and went to a new one today, bit further away but wow what a difference! Had smiles and hellos before I even got into the building! A much more friendly group all round and whilst we've only been once I had more friendly chats than I ever had at the old one. So I would say to anyone else don't put up with rude grumpy people, go elsewhere if you possibly can.
Faith in other mums restored, phew!

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