Fitting in at school gates as parent of an only - tips please!(22 Posts)
I think everybody has come up with good nuggets of info or suggestions I can use.
The difficulty is the confined space we have to wait in. The number of pushchairs means that if you don't have one, you have to sort of squish around the edges to make space. It spreads people out in a way that is not as natural as collecting in a larger playground.
I do feel a lot older than many of the parents too and many have their partners with them at pick up - perhaps they're too scared to go alone though I now realise! I will have a look around next week and see if I can pick out someone else feeling odd one out.
Get in early with the playdates - if you have them when your child's in Yr R you'll have a reason to go with them, or to invite the mum along if they come to yours. With luck you'll find a mum you get along with that way, at the very least you should feel more comfortable wandering over for a chat in the playground if you've shared a pot of tea/bottle of wine.
FWIW DD is in Yr 5 and there are still a number of children whose sibling status I don't know - I discovered over the summer that one of the other girls is an only, having long assumed there were unseen older siblings (quite a common family type round here).
I am sort of in the same position but I'm probably a bit more outgoing than you. I have an only, just started reception and have just moved into an area. Everyone seems to know each other from pre-school and have children that already play together. I am just smiley and friendly and join in with people's conversations - they really don't mind and are often pleased to have someone new to talk to. I have 'clicked' already with one other parent and have coffee planned and in clicking with her I have been accepted into her circle of friends.
I see other parents looking a bit left out and go and talk to them too, initiated by smiling at them first, if they smile back then I will go and talk to them. It really is that simple. I leave the miserable ones alone.
Scary isn't it! It will get easier, as you see people every day it will get easier to say 'hi, how are you'.
Your son must be mentioning some names, find their parent and that is your starter for easier conversations, you might also offer a play date?
You put on your big girl pants, take a deep breath and say "hello, how's X getting on in Reception, are they tired when they get in etc etc, will we ever get used to making packed lunch, is X looking forward to the school trip etc, etc"
If you ask questions people will reply, don't talk about your own child unless asked, and never about reading bands or parts in the nativity.
It's not hard if you want to be friends to make friends. Conversations will evolve from kids to other stuff. But accept some people might also be like me, simply there to drop off kids and be no more than polite.
Just say hello and smile. If they like you, they like you. If not, well don't sweat the small stuff, as school gates are sometimes cliquey.
It really isn't harder.
My DD is the youngest but her older brothers are much older and I has no connection in the area or the school.
It takes a while. You smile and make idle chat.
Finding out who your child's friends parent/mum is is a good one because you have that friendship in common. Make some playdates and you meet mums then .
Starting out from the position 'oh this is more difficult for me because I have only one child' is a bit precious tbh. I don't say tht to be mean, I say so because giving yourself an excuse to feel excluded which just increases your sense of isolation when it's nonsense.
The other parents are exactly like you and will warm to you if they like you and they won't if they don't. I am sure they will. So just patiently get to know a few nd have some connections.
I hardly speak at drop off - I certainly don't stand around talking about dull stuff - but I have half a dozen mates who I hook up with sometimes, who would wait with my DD if I got stuck or could share lifts with. It's nice to have a few like that at school.
I'm Mum to an only, it hasn't crossed my mind that this would make it harder to converse!
Just smile and ask what they've got planned for the weekend, or ask about clubs DCs go to.
I get there on the bell each time, there's a little bit of waiting round where I do
and am feel like Billy no mates, but on the whole it's fine, as someone else said on another thread these are just people who had babies at the same time.
Basketofchocolate - sounds exactly like the situation I'm in (see earlier thread) except I'm not new to the area. I'd say it's more difficult as the Mum of an only. Are the class Mums organising a drinks/social evening? Was there a contact list? With Reception settling in there may be disruption anyway and you won't get the same people dropping off or picking up every day.
I've been smiling and saying a polite hello and hoping someone will come up and talk to me. Starting a conversation is really difficult but perhaps look for new things happening: book bags, changes in the playground, notices about stuff coming up at school. Mums with older sibs will be able to help or explain (even if you know it already!). If you talk about your house move people seem to be interested -they are at my school anyway.
Best of luck!
Hmm...UniS, perhaps that's the issue - I hated all that at work too! At least there was work to talk about
It's quite a confined space so it's really uncomfortable feeling if I cock it up.
Pretend you've just started a new job.5 years ago or 5 years in the future these women would have been/might be your colleagues.
School gate mums are not a different species, you know!
I wouldn't worry about fitting in or how many children you/any one else has.
Smile, be friendly, say hello when you see people, make 'small talk' if necessary. If our reception year was anything to go by there were a lot of birthday parties where I got to know people better (nothing better than bonding over a cup of tea and a leftover sandwich) and by the end of the year I knew most of the other parents. Some of them I really like, some are ok and some probably aren't my cup of tea but I'm always polite.
Better to get to know people slowly than finding yourself 'best mates' with a parent that you'll spend the next 6 years trying to avoid!
ask " which is your kid? " of any one who looks vaguely friendly.
Be nice to a toddler in a pushchair, smile at them, play pee-poe.
Admire someones dog ( assuming any one has one) or admire their pushchair or their coat, umbrella, what ever.
comment on the weather.
It's all just water cooler talk, just like most of us were/ are capable of at work.
come on do you want to be in a clique?? i stand alone outside reception and i say hello to a few people but does anyone want to stand their and chat about cakes?? well do they ??
Also how was your weekend/half term etc, did you get up to anything nice, normal small talk. Does.t have to be dc related.
Ask who their child is, how they are settling in etc.
Say you're new to the area and ask if they can recommend a gym/restaurant/good park etc. If they say no then a jokey sort of "ooh who's good to ask about that sort of thing then?"
Ask about their job?
It does take a while though and some of the others are probably as nervous as you!
Sorry meant to say, it makes no odds to me how many children people have, I don't think it's ever crossed my mind!
Firstly, don't presume anything about anyone! You don't know these people at all and who has what children where etchetc
I think the schoolmates are like dating, you have to try out a few people before you find ones you gel with.
Just get stuck in, say hello, make conversation, have playdates after school, go for a coffee.
DS's school is laid out so that the parents for each class wait together outside each class (as opposed to all being a bit group together).
DS just started in reception and we are fairly new to the area so I don't know any other parents. So far, it seems that the majority of parents have babies/young children in pushchairs and some are getting chatting over that. There are a few who have older kids in the school already so know people and don't seem interested in making new friends.
Feeling like this is a new point of feeling the 'only' thing quite strongly.
So, what are your tips for fitting in? Baby talk bores me a bit and also is a bit hard when we could only have one.
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