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to feel so outside all the cliques before my child even starts school

(85 Posts)
newsparklythings Wed 13-Jun-18 16:33:57

Just that really. I've attended a school introduction and all the parents seemed to immediately split into groups that seem very like cliques. I tried talking to a few other mums and felt quite rejected. I have MH issues - anxiety, depression, quite severe a lot of the time - and find groups of new people especially difficult. But was hoping to make an effort for my daughter's sake and so I don't always feel like a loner in the playground. AIBU to feel this way?

Dandybelle Wed 13-Jun-18 16:35:54

YANBU. The exact same thing happened to me today. I was younger than the other mums and felt like a total outsider, it was horrible. I found the whole thing really stressful.

tryingtocatchthewind Wed 13-Jun-18 16:41:36

If it helps I felt the same at the intro sessions, I didn't know anyone.
Through reception I tried to be chatty at pick ups (I only do two) and chat at parties. It's taken a while but now in year 1 I have some really good friends and we have even been on to the pub on a couple of occasions.
Relax, it takes time. You won't make friends overnight with the other mums but if you're open minded and chatty it will happen.

Funkyslippers Wed 13-Jun-18 16:45:59

By the time your LO starts reception in Sept, most of the other mums would have forgotten who they spoke to back in June. It may also be that some of the mums already know each other. All I can say is that in Sept many of the mums will be in the same boat as you, not knowing anyone. Have a few open questions ready to ask someone in the playground who's on their own. You won't gel with everyone. And I find that in big groups of mums there's always some sort of drama with their kids falling out and the mums getting involved. So if you don't hit it off with the 'groups' if there are any, you may have had a lucky escape! 10 years experience talking here...!

Knackered1234 Wed 13-Jun-18 16:47:11

Ah OP. Sending you a massive virtual hug! It’s so hard isn’t it. The kids don’t seem to have issues making friends quickly, but takes us oldies a bit more effort and time. I’m a hugely anxious person. Also had my child’s 1st primary school induction today. I have to really make an effort as I’m naturally quite shy. I did talk to quite a few mums (and Dads) today, but then afterwards always question myself and think I must have been really annoying haha!

Some of the cliquey behaviour might be also because those parents are anxious too. Mums that know each other from nursery/preschool tend to stick together to avoid having to talk to new people as it can often be a bit awkward initially.

Give it time, sometimes you do just need to be a bit pushy though and force your way in lol

brilliotic Wed 13-Jun-18 16:47:42

Hi both of you,

There were most likely several mums that know each other already (through older siblings/other activities/NCT groups/etc). But I think you need to realise that at least some of the mums that talked to each other and 'appeared cliquey' probably had never met before. They were just making an effort to meet people and really focusing on everything, making it look to a bystander as if they knew each other well already. Some might have been inadvertently chatting with a group where everybody else knew each other already, and feeling a bit odd about it; but you wouldn't have seen how they felt!

When DS started, several years ago, I never really got involved with second+ time starters parents. Nor with the girl parents (most of whom knew each other from a certain ballet/gym class the girls had all gone to). Not for the lack of trying!

I did however form some lovely friendships and good solid help-each-other-out acquaintances with other first-time boys parents who were in the same situation as I was. BUT: This took some time. Several months just to work out who is who properly, and figuring out if someone is actually nice, too.

So what I'm saying is: It won't seem like it initially, as you will automatically notice all those parents who know each other and chat away, but there ARE other parents in your position and you will eventually get to know them, if you try. Don't give up quite yet! You have not even begun properly yet.

brilliotic Wed 13-Jun-18 16:50:11

oops, x-posted, there was only one reply when I started writing...

Meant to add, second time round now, I will be making an effort not to appear cliquey despite now knowing quite a few of the other parents, it being DC2.

KERALA1 Wed 13-Jun-18 18:35:43

Its only the school introduction! Give yourself a chance! Many of my good friends met through school I got to know over the first 3 years or so or didn't even have kids in the same year as we met through school events/mutual friends/doing the shit jobs clearing up summer fairs etc.

Don't over think or be one of those women that rebuff every overture of friendship then moan online furiously about "cliques",

topcat2014 Wed 13-Jun-18 18:42:27

Have a think about joining the PTA, or whatever. That can be an easy 'in'.

Metoodear Wed 13-Jun-18 18:50:12

School gate mafia

We have this it’s old as time I am afraid

kateandme Wed 13-Jun-18 19:02:04

give yourself times hun.
please remember also that with mental healthy issue as you have it will be telling you things that aren't true.think about all the lies your illness tells you.it lies to make you feel like crap and heighten situations to make you think they are against you.its that fecking monster that wants you to feel down.so in situations like this keep tryinig to think "is this deff true.do they deff not like me/stay away from me"really ask and also "what if I give it time.what if this is partly my accusations of myself making me feel its reaaaally so bad."
always question the illness.its a devil for this type of thing
that's ot to say it doesn't hurt or that it doesn't happen.but your handling it will come from strength you find in not nosediving over it.
its still way to early.many mums will be hanging on to anything to feel included the same as you.but don't give up.keep starting up convos and joining in.its like first days at school its award at first.allow yourself to feel a bit silly and embaressed and putting yourself out there.its ok.not everyone likes everyone.
if you dc makes friends.talk to there mum " I hear your dc has become mates with mine"
or also look around.can you spot any other mum looking slightly nervous.go to them.be helpful.thatl make thing better as your then looking out for other and ul realise your not alone.
its a tough time.dont feel alone.trust me your not.
get to the coffee shop.do other things.get out there in some clubs of your own.make friends in different ways.you don't have to be alone.

hildabaker Wed 13-Jun-18 19:02:18

You'll probably find yourself being 'friends' with the mothers of your children's friends. You might even end up liking a few of them. For what it's worth, I would keep my distance anyway if I were you. Half the time, I wished I hadn't bothered getting to know some people.

RupertBear15 Wed 13-Jun-18 19:45:57

OP - I had to reply because it happened to me too! I have 3 children and they went to a different pre-school group than most of the others in their primary year as we lived outside the catchment area at the time ( eligible to go to the school because of my being a member of the affiliated church). An absolute nightmare.

I won't go into all the dull details but I remained an outsider throughout the whole of my children's primary years. We moved out of London to Kent half way through their schooling to buy our first home but that only made things worse for me as most women had made their friendships already. I spent years just dropping my kids off and running away and then going last minute to collect them. I spent 10 years of my life dreading the school gate mums.- who often appeared ever so judgemental but why I have no idea. why.

I never spoke to anyone much and kept myself to myself as I am a shy and quiet person in some ways. My youngest daughter leaves primary school next month - the last of my kids to do so and i am now very happily free of all of this as i found it very stressful. It's like an exclusive club where you HAVE to bake cakes, talk only about your kids and Anne Sunmmers, join the PTA, help run the church fair and basically behave like a happy 1950's housewife. Despite being a housewife myself - I do have a brain and I found the whole thing bizarre considering no one does this at secondary- it really is a primary school phenomena. I avoided it all- that was my choice in some respects but if you do so, prepare to be alone for a long time and sort of almost ostracized.

I do hope you make friends and not follow my example!

The main issue I had really was none of my kids knowing anyone else before reception - pre-school is so important to make connections. Even my daughter complained that 4 of her friends all went to the same pre-school and the mums were in each other's pockets way before that first school year started.

I just gave up after a while and never found anyone to bond with from the schools. I suffer from chronic anxiety too and there were so many very confident women who might say "hello" but who never really included you or invited you out. I felt they were all in competition with
each other somehow; who was the wealthiest, the best dressed, had the biggest SUV, the best hair do, the most sexy boots, the most influential friends. it never seemed to be about empowering women but about who could impress the most or contribute the most in helping the school- almost like a power trip for some of them. I know it was Greater London- the 'burbs' as such but I hated it. We rented and that was just well- far too 'common' for them and they made their attitudes apparent.

In Kent, I could never break into the pact of women's already formed bonds. Everyone knew each other in a smallish town and many grew up here - a less wealthy area , but almost the opposite- very insular. I gave up in the end sadly.

I wish you luck OP in making it work for you and that you get a good group of friends around you. I do disagree with the other poster- there ARE cliques but different types and each school has it's own type.

I am so sad that my anxiety and lack of confidence stopped me from trying harder to make friends and some of it is my fault, yes But not all and it's very difficult to 'fit in' with certain groups of women I think.

Sevendown Wed 13-Jun-18 19:51:17

I hate the school gate. I drop off in the car.

BitchQueen90 Wed 13-Jun-18 19:55:13

I dunno why everyone gets so invested in this. I'm not friends with any of the school mums and DS has been there a year. I drop him off and pick him up, job done. He's been to a couple of playdates and while the mums were nice I wouldn't spend time with them in a social setting. Couldn't care less if I'm in the "gang" or not.

Greekyoghurt83 Wed 13-Jun-18 19:56:02

Don't worry too much. I have just gone through it this year and it's really hard and intense if you are a SAHM. But a year on I am so much more relaxed about it. Try to keep a rational head and think that other parents are probably stressed out, tired etc and most probably gravitate to those they know rather than ignoring you for any specific reason.

Just be yourself and chatty, smiley. Friendships will come as will the cliques unfortunately.

Just make sure you have a good lot of friends outside the school gates and keep socialising outside the immediate mum crowd. You will find your way and suss it out and this time next year probably won't really care so much. I think another poster said it's a blessing in disguise to miss out on the big cliquey groups and I couldn't agree more. Good luck xxx

aaronburr Wed 13-Jun-18 19:58:33

Yanbu to feel this way but you do need to give it time.

I would say it took the best part of reception year before I had become properly friendly with any of the other mums. Two years on and I am still getting to know different people.

One thing I have found helpful, if you have a park near the school, go there a lot after school. If your child sees someone they know they will make a beeline for them, and you can chat to the parent away from the playground setting. It's far less intimidating.

Keep smiling, keep chatting, it takes time but you will get to know people.

ImaginationOrLogic Wed 13-Jun-18 20:00:37

Hi newsparkly. Ds3 is starting school in september. His big brothers will be in yr6 and yr9 (so only 1 at school with him.) He knows one other child who will be in his class as they have a si gle common day per week at nursery together, and i have met his mum a few times too. I've rarely been at school gates because I work full time but have been on both side of the mum group thing- ds1 I knew a few people through baby groups when they got to reception, but I didn't know a soul when ds2 started school. I have made some lovely friends from this second go at it- and each one of us were the "loners" smile.

I can promise you that there will be other people like you and it only takes a couple of terms to feel comfy at pick up time. If anything, I think we grouped together because we didn't know anyone else. Same boat I guess.

And when ds3 starts, I'll be heading towards the other loners again! Maybe we should wear a special badge in case we are in the same school playground wink

Lindy2 Wed 13-Jun-18 20:02:11

I expect the groups already new each other from other places. For my first child I already knew other parents from preschool and playgroups. For my second child there were parents I knew from my older child's class.
It wasn't a clique, we just already knew each other so sat together and chatted.
Once day to day school actually starts I expect you'll get to know some other people. Don't worry if you don't though. You'll only be there for 5 mins each morning and afternoon. I promise it really doesn't matter if it's not a social occassion.

FlyingElbows Wed 13-Jun-18 20:15:13

Be careful what you wish for, op. The sort of women who form school gate cliques are the sort of women who have never mentally left school, that may be a drama cauldron you want to avoid.Having children the same age doesn't make a recipe for life long friendship. Don't worry too much about it.

Twoo Wed 13-Jun-18 20:16:41

RupertBear flowers I feel your anguish sad

TakemedowntoPotatoCity Wed 13-Jun-18 20:23:09

It's crazy isn't it. Those of us with social anxiety spend years trying to fit in at school, then college, then work. Finally you think we a mum you're free of it all and then the school gate dramas begin and it's like you've gone back 20/30 years.

spiderlight Wed 13-Jun-18 20:24:52

I suffer from very severe social anxiety and was a bit late to the school-gate thing because I rather inconveniently spent the first couple of weeks of Reception in hospital, so I was dreading the whole thing. I felt that it was all very cliquey at first and only got to know one other first-time mum who walked the same time as me and who also coincidentally worked at my dad's nursing home so she knew how ill I'd just been, but gradually as DS settled in and made friends, I got to know their' parents and it got massively easier. It eventually became apparent that the main 'clique' was formed around three mums who were related (sisters-in-law and a cousin) and some others who had known them since they went to the local school together, and they were just having their daily catch-up without taking too much notice of anyone else in the playground, but actually once our kids started playing together and wanting to go to each other's houses for tea etc., they were much friendlier. It's only five minutes out of your day though - don't get too stressed out over it. It will get easier once your child's friendships start to form, I promise. We're at the other end of it now, with only a few weeks of primary left, and having dreaded it for months before it started, I'm actually going to miss it!

Steeley113 Wed 13-Jun-18 20:25:36

Don’t go looking to make friends is the best advice I can give you. Just be nice and polite and have general chit chat when you can. You’ve got years with these parents and it will happen organically. As for ‘cliques’, I don’t think they exist. They probably already know each other so are talking so they don’t feel like a ‘loner’. Honestly, go head held high and be there for your daughter, not for a social life.

Ohyesiam Wed 13-Jun-18 20:25:54

Op , in September go in and smile at the other parents in the playground, make a comment or two. There will be a meant one, a fussy one, a difficult one etc, you’ll soon see who is sane and kind. Just chat to them.
Remember their behaviour will be about them, not you. You won’t know what is happening in their lives. So when the nice seeming woman who usually smiles ignores you one day, remember that she might be caring for her dying mum/ getting beaten up at home/ be in a horrible dilemma etc. Just don’t take it personally.
I had a school mum who didn’t talk to me for 5 years, I have absolutely no idea why. I know I did nothing wrong. I just have to know it’s her problem.

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