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How to do the superficial coffee morning/playgroup chat - please help!

(24 Posts)
timetosleep Tue 07-Jul-09 13:12:08


I am struggling to enjoy the coffee mornings/playgroups. I have a 16 mo and a 8 week old and need to get out for DD1 and I am lucky enough to have a good set up locally. But I go along and often just cannot be bothered to say very much - it's all so superficial and vacuous. I know that everyone is just trying to pass the time well and it's better to be light hearted than a misery - but how to connect, what to say - I feel on the sidelines the whole time.

bigchris Tue 07-Jul-09 13:16:41

i start by interacting with the children

sit on the floor and play with all the kids

eventually their mums will come over and then yon can ask the name and age of their child, chat about the weather etc

if you dont want to talkto the mjms concentrate onmaking sure your eldest is having loads of fun

these groups are invaluable for meeting people, learning about local schools and other events going on

with two young kids yiu need toget out for ur sanity
dont be put off

bigchris Tue 07-Jul-09 13:17:23

sorry for typos!

Mintyy Tue 07-Jul-09 13:22:24

I think if you go with the attitude "its all so superficial and vacuous" you won't get very far. 90% of the people in the room will be thinking "this is all pretty superficial and vacuous but I'm going to grin and bear it for all our sakes".

Speak to people who aren't already with a group of friends (many Mumsnetters prefer to think of them as cliques lol!). Try and take a genuine interest in what people are saying (even if it is only about nappies and dummies and sleep). Pretend to be interested even if you aren't. Smile and take an interest in their children.

Over time some of these conversations will lead to a greater understanding of what the other mum is really like and hopefully a deeper and more meaningful friendship for both of you.

notnowbernard Tue 07-Jul-09 13:24:36

Make a positive comment on what their child is wearing

Or what lovely hair s/he has

Ask how old the DC is etc

If you want to be REALLY dull ask them if their baby is sleeping well etc...

It can be tedious initially but you might just find you get through the smalltalk with someone and find you really like them

holdingittogether Tue 07-Jul-09 13:32:50

May be tricky given the age of your dcs but I have found the best way to get to know people at toddler groups is to volunteer to help out in some way. Most groups are run by a couple of mum volunteers and asking if they want a hand tidying up or doing the coffees makes you feel more involved and then it's easier to get talking to people.
Yes it's a bit awkward to start with but stick with it and the more effort you make the quicker you might find someone you click with. People love to talk about their dcs mostly so stick to that sort of chat to start with.

mrsgboring Tue 07-Jul-09 13:34:42

Think about the aspects of childcare/motherhood you do enjoy and try to start a conversation about that. For me, I like non-mainstream children's clothes (not full of stupid logos) so like to ask people where they found that nice top. Leads into "It's so hard to find good clothes these days isn't it?" Leads into a discussion of taste / durability in kids clothes.

Asking about the local preschools etc. is always a good option for anyone who've got older DCs

Pyrocanthus Wed 08-Jul-09 10:20:10

How have you ever started a conversation with a stranger? There's nothing inherently more vacuous about mothers than anyone else.

Having said that, you're probably sleep-deprived and feeling less than sociable, which does make it all much harder.

When I was full-time at home with very little children, I used to think of the other mothers as colleagues, and the baby talk as office chat (like comparing notes on how to work round computer glitches). As at work, I gradually found that I enjoyed some people's company more than others, and they became friends, and sometimes we met outside the group setting. Gradually we talked more about subjects other than our children.

You're not really on another planet now, honestly.

stripes200 Wed 08-Jul-09 10:33:47

You could buck the trend, ignore the common ground, go wild and ask them about them what they did, who they were pre-children?

It's a crazy notion, I know, but we are beings beyond being parents!

Ask what they did at the weekend, what their plans are for next weekend, tell them what you got up to, recommend something to them to go and see.

If they're local ask them if they know of a such and such(some thing you want to go to, a class, a type of shop, an attraction,) generally people like to give advice.

Ask them if they've seen a particular article the news you were interested and what they thought about it?

Ask if they MN?

It doesn't all have to be about baby stuff which gets boring and samey very quickly.

sparklesandwine Wed 08-Jul-09 10:49:49

go in with an open mind about these 'superficial and vacuous' mums, as we all go to or have been to these groups and have to talk about something i suppose, and as we are there at a childrens playgroup the only thing we have in common from the off is children therefore its only natural to talk about them at first as a common point

once you start talking to other mums you will soon seek out the ones you 'click' with and the ones you don't

do you know anyone who you could go with that you like?

mrsgboring Wed 08-Jul-09 12:01:05

Spot on Pyrocanthus ITA.

Pyrocanthus Wed 08-Jul-09 12:07:22

Thank you, Mrsg. Shall we be friends?

mrsgboring Wed 08-Jul-09 12:14:37

of course smile

poshsinglemum Wed 08-Jul-09 12:18:50

I know-tis a nightmare isn't it?
I will never forget the night when Obama won the election. I was so excited the next day but everyone at playgroup just wanted to talk about poo and puree. It's almost as though we have forgotten that we had a life before children.
I have however, learned to accept that it will always be on this level and now use it as an opportunity to exchange parenting advice. I think it's a case of meeting a like-minded soul.

ZZZenAgain Wed 08-Jul-09 12:23:05

everything I might have added has already been said, listen rather than talk, get involved helping out, speak to the dc, ask for advice.

It just dependso n the constellation. I tried 3 groups, the first I found really nice and stuck with ; the other two weren't really me so I dropped them. It was less what people had to say as the way it was set up, lots of fiddly arts activities with 18 month olds etc. Was too much fuss for my taste.

traceybath Wed 08-Jul-09 12:35:52

Compliments always work - and not just the children but what the other mothers are wearing etc.

Also talk about whats in the news/was on tv last night etc - just normal stuff that you'd have discussed with work colleagues.

As in any situation there are going to be ones you click with and ones you don't.

I found with ds1 it took a certain amount of perseverance to become accepted and also to find the groups i liked. Of course with ds2 i just can't be bothered and just see the friends i made with ds1.

zenlikecalm Wed 08-Jul-09 12:35:55

My problem was I was so tense about what my kids were doing, needing from me, etc. there was no way I was going to be able to help with the playgroup as well. I can't do conversations with constant interruptions from my and others' demanding kids. It took a long time to find a group I liked, and that was only from the point of view of my DD1 liking the crafts table that only one group had laid on.

I listened to the most boring conversations of my life there, all about the Atkins diet, every bloody week. When I tried to introduce any other topic, they turned and stared at me, then went back to Atkins. Finally I treated it as an exercise session (it was on top of a hill), fun for my poor fed up dd1, and an opportunity to notice what toys my new dd enjoyed most, very different from dd1).

Maybe you could try something else, baby swimming sessions or something, even if you have to put one of them in a gym creche. I had better chats in the changing rooms after a more organised activity and the same people came more regularly as it was a class. And you have the activity itself as a topic of conversation.

MaybeAfterBreakfast Wed 08-Jul-09 14:10:39

From my own experiences at these things,

*Compliment other peoples' children (or their hair or clothes if the child itself is hard to admire grin)
*Try to chat or play with other children.
*Offer to help with setting stuff out, tidying up.
*Try to start conversations about more interesting things than babies - what's growing in the garden, tv, news, local issues (normal stuff)
*Try to identify people who have children who will go to school/preschool with your own. You'll be seeing a lot of each other over the years.
*Make a point of talking to other people who are new or look a bit lost.

*Bang on and on about how bright and advanced your own children are compared to their peer group - this is the number one thing that pisses people off at the groups I go to.
*List at tedious length sleeping patterns, heights, weights, centiles, of your children - nobody wants to hear it! A throwaway remark ('mine is short, a crap sleeper' etc is enough).
*Spend the whole time on the phone. Nobody will bother to try and talk to you then.

mulranno Wed 08-Jul-09 17:55:13

I think that having an 8 week old is tough and well done you for getting this far. Most groups wil finish this week or next for the summer....and when they return in the might find...a different group of Mums as many will have "moved on" to play group, school wont be the new girl anymore. You might find after the 8 week break and having a baby who will then be 4 months by then that the experience is better...or different from now.

If you walk there and back just look at this as an important part of the also dont have to be there at the begining or stay to the end....I used to just turn up near the end for the stories/singing.

sparklesandwine Wed 08-Jul-09 18:17:23

i don't know where you are but you could try one of the MN meet ups that way you know you can talk about anything! wink

bigchris Wed 08-Jul-09 18:22:25

I found groups quite quiet at this time of year but in September they get busier again and there will hopefully be more of a variety of people there

TurtleAnn Wed 08-Jul-09 21:31:06

Have you tried looking for more interactive groups, e.g. our local nursery rhyme class is 45 minute of nursery rhyme madness - there is no time to talk, the teacher makes us get up, jump about, sing etc.
You don't have to talk at the library, just listen to the story.

whomovedmychocolate Wed 08-Jul-09 21:40:19

Take an interest in the mums as well as the kids. Saying 'that is a lovely bag/pair of shoes/haircut' to a person whose life involves no-one ever noticing if her leg has fallen off overnight is almost guaranteed a positive response.

Ditto: 'how on earth do you manage to look so groomed/calm/rested while raising such happy kids?'

pispirispis Wed 08-Jul-09 22:56:25

I know this sounds corny, but make yourself smile, even if you don't feel like it. Not in a scary fake OTT way though, obviously, lol! It does make you look more approachable and makes you feel better too, in awkward social situations.

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