I cannot make friends with the mums ...(46 Posts)
I am new on the forum, but i really felt i needed to hear some other "mums" advice so here it goes:
We moved our daughter to a privet school last year, it is a lovely school i cannot say anything negative about this, altough i also loved the school my daughter (age 8) was at previously - a state school. My husband got a promotion and really wanted this for our daughter so we opted to move her and yes, she loves it also. That said it has been a real struggle for me to connect with any of the mums. I know i am a shy person but i do go out of my way to say hello and how are you ....
The culture of this school is so different - or maybe just the mums, i know that all must be nice persons but they are so very hard to talk to. I am desperate to make some friends, for my daughter and for me, but it is just not working. They all have their groups etc already.
We have a class representative and i found out last week it is her job to inform parents of little bits and bobs, still i have not heard about anything.
I confronted her (kindly) to be spoken to, if you cannot be bothered to give me your mobile i cannot include you in my texts. OK, i know i am a little old-fashioned but i don`t have one, i do have email though. She smiled and walked away.
Is it just me or are there other mums out there whom feel when standing at the gate a complete alien ...
I don`t want another year like this, I am going to all the birthday parties, trying my best to fit in ... but will i ever ?
Gosh ... I am so angree at myself for not having better social skills and being up to date with all the trends etc ... am i letting my daughter down also - she seems to fit in just fine ...
Sorry ... just needed to get it out as this is mumsnet after all and at the moment i am feeling one lonely mum!
People will be along in a moment to address the more serious aspects of this, but the one thing I would say is do get a mobile - the cheapest possible PAYG job if you don't want anything flashy, because not only will the
bitchy cow class rep then deign to include you in things, but also texts are by far the easiest way if making contact with other mums, they're instant without being as full-on as an actual phone call. I'm not the world's best school gate networker, but the communication I do have with other parents is all done by text.
I kind of empathise but I really don't think it is a private school issue here, or anything to do with trends, it is more to do with cliques.
Often in small environments people have known each other for a long time and tend not to be as friendly - they develop a clique mentality - this of course doesn't happen everywhere, but it is common.
When we moved to this village, it was a bit like this, I went to the local playgroup and beyond pleaseantries I didn't really make friends - 2 years on and I still don't feel like I am friends with anyone, although I am very friendly with most people and have had plenty of playdates for the children.
Maybe you could invite some of the children your DD likes round for dinner?
I echo Dilys, I have one lovely friend who has no mobile and I must admit I have arranged meet ups with other people over her because it is easier when it is a last minute thing e.g. you are bored and seeing who wants to go to the park etc. I have a £10 phone from the Vodaphone shop and put on £15 a quarter, it is very basic but does the job.
Belle - i agree with dilys that you need to get a phone.
As far as your daughter is concerned, let her make her own friends whom she will then introduce to you, you may well find that you get on with her friends mum's , you are trying to do things other way round.
In the meantime just smile, be polite and let your dd make friends, go to parties etc and it will happen naturally and dont look needy!
Good luck !
It sounds like she is a bloody awful rep if she responded like that to your request. The initial point of contact is always email, she should be emailing events and meet ups first without texts.
It can be very hard to move in on an established class but the rep is there to include new parents and she has let you down there. Friendships will form eventually and I'm glad your dd likes it so much there that is v important.
and on your behalf. How rude! I don't care whether you have a phone or not (and yes, of course they are useful, and most people have them, but that is no excuse for rudeness) the Class Rep was not doing her job.
Which, IME, is to welcome new families, make an effort to include them, and at the very least be polite.
I don't think its a private v state issue either, though. I do understand you feeling upset, absolutely - being the 'new girl' is a lonely time, and if people aren't welcoming even lonelier. But I would take next term as a fresh start, invite people over (only one or two, choose the ones who are more friendly/approachable) and yes, maybe get a phone, unless you feel strongly about not getting one.
Although we have a very popular friend/Parent Governor/PTA member who has NOT got a mobile phone, and although its sometimes inconvenient, its her choice. And she is never excluded.
The class rep has either messed up and walked off in shamefaced embarrassment or isn't very nice... Maybe the other mums assumed that, because you didn't respond to texts, you weren't very interested - not being aware that the class rep had actually failed to make any attempt to include you in anything? If there is a class rep, I really don't see how she could think it is your responsibility to find out who she is and how she communicates with people?!!!!! Surely she should have gone out of her way to introduce herself at the beginning of the year and told you that everyone communicates by text???... Of course it's hard to find a way into a group of pre-established friendships, that's why people like class reps exist, so that no-one gets accidentally left out.
What you need to get your head round is that your DD's classmates' Mums are a random collection of people and it really is down to luck whether they are your cup of tea (or you are theirs). It takes Effort (capital E!) to find out all the coffee mornings and other get togethers and just keep going and trying and it may be that after a while you may think it is not worth it if this group really are not on your wavelength. That is life. It took me a loooong time to realise that it is not a given that you will make friends with the other Mums, and that it is not personal. You may find that getting involved with the PTA will put you in contact with a different group who may be nicer.
And you really do neeed to get hold of a phone - how can the school contact you about emergencies, closures, late running of buses from school trips, reminders for mufti days etc? These are all the things my school sends texts about. When you have your phone go up to the class rep with a piece of paper with the number on and ask her for the class list with everyone elses numbers on in return
We were very lucky. In the early days people had time to stop for coffee after drop off. The school was hopeless at passing on information and if I hadn't joined the coffee mornings I wouldn't have understood how anything worked. The very first thing each year rep does is update the contacts list. We include names and addresses, of course, but also date of birth, siblings names and ages, mobiles, email addresses. My couple of sheets are ragged with use. But recently people have become more preoccupied and I'm very aware that relatively new people are totally in the dark. Also, some people have worked out that their children might get an edge if they join the friends or become governers and they get very protective.
Watch people and see who is the most open and sympathetic and just focus on making contact with them. And try to make time for coffee. I consider a mothers' meeting to be more important than a high-powered business breakfast. It is part of the job.
I drop and run. The last thing on earth I would want to do is have coffee at a "Mother's Meeting".
Let your kid make her own friends, you make yours, they don't have to be intertwined. Actually, it is much easier if they're not.
I don't know how you cope with a kid at school and no mobile. I have mine so the school can phone me wherever I am if anything goes wrong.
I would suggest trying to get to know at least vaguely the mothers of the friends of your daughter, so you can arrange playdates. Then if at yours you can invite them in for a quick coffee at the end, and chat a little.
I know it's a private school - but is there a PTA or similar?
If there is it may be worth joining, I find you instantly get to talk to other mums about some topic going on etc like the summer/christmas fair or school disco etc.
Agree with all other posters re getting a mobile phone. It's so much easier to arrange playdates. I found getting involved with the PTA opened lots of doors with me. I'm rubbish at networking generally, but pushed myself to do it for DD. The PTA, however frustrating at times, is really fun and I've got to know lots of parents and teachers (as well as finding out more of the gossip!). Good luck.
Agree too about getting a phone. One of DS1 friends Mums doesn't have one and you have to be pretty determined to get hold of her. Other people could be abit shy too and not want to call you directly or hunt you out especially if they don't know you very well, so you might miss out on some stuff.
Welcome to playground politics.
I hate the school gates, done it for about 4 years, day in day out. The best thing about working imho is not having to hang around at the school gates. I drop of occasionally but I never stop. I wave the children goodbye at the gates and smile politely to the Jeremy Kyle brigade.
My children have some good friends at school who come home for tea, and that is fine, but I have no desire to socialise with the mums at the school.
At our school there is the PTA who seem to live their life at the school, know everything about everybody and if they believe you do not fit in with their clique your toast!
There is just something about school gates. At first I thought it was just me, then I heard this interview with the writer who wrote "Playground Mafia". The book may not be that great but I think that woman was spot on in the interview, it could have been about our school!
I guess there is no real solution here. I think the only way forward is to simply do your own thing, which was my choice, or alternatively, get the mobile phone and join them!
My dd aged 9 i am in the 'clique', we all know each other, went through preschool together and all our dc's play together.
My dd aged 7 im an definately not in the 'clique' in the infants.
I dont think you have to do it for your kids, they will make friends anyway.
I have a friend who goes to a different school and she hates the mentallity at the gate. She said she wouldnt ever want to be friends with any of the mothers period but her dd has friends.
I think it depends on the school, or, more specifically, the people involved.
I would visit a PTA meeting and see - ours is nothing like the one just described, and it is genuinely fun a lot of the time. At its best, its an amazing source of support and inclusion - at worst, exhausting (those times hardly anyone comes to help with something). But not cliquey at all.
And I would try and find at least one or two other mums to smile and say hello to, who smile and say hello back. Because it makes life more enjoyable.
Worth a try!
As another alien....
Remind yourself these others are in no way superior. They just like to thow superior looks which actually makes them rather inferior in the manners department.
Your daughter will make friends it just takes a little time.
Make your friends through your own interests.
My top tip would be approach any grandparents who do picks ups. They are usually far more friendly & can chat about something other than the kids.
Nannies, too, IME!
And when you spot the Class Rep, imagine she has a bogey on her cheek: will make her less scary to talk to.
I sympathise with you. I too moved DD from state to private school and am at a loss of what to say to the other mums. They already all know each other and although I am sure are nice seem to have a different lifestyle- revolving around meeting up for coffee, horses and housekeepers . I think the advice of speaking to grandparents is good. Good luck with it all!
I have read all the above posts with interest. Like all the others posters advise..get a phone if you can. You will at least have a number to give to people even if you never use it yourself. Tesco has a fine selection of pay as you go..
I too have been that new Mum and it's horrible..there were times when I wished I had been working! I am not from the U.K and my moved here as a family last Nov. I have a daughter aged 6 and thankfully she is an extrovert..because there were days when I felt like an alien too!!
My daughter settled straightaway, has plenty of friends, goes to parties and it has been through her I have met some nice Mums as well.
Being around for drop off and collection helps and I can identify with the other poster who mentioned chatting to the Grand parents...I would agree..they have no "issues" and will chat away to you. In fact it was a Granny who first approached me and orgainised a play date for her Grand daughter and my daughter. I will always remember her kindness. As it turned out the children are still good friends but my dd has moved to another gang but I will always go out of my way to chat to that particular lady. I know many of the Mums now...some I have no desire to ever be friends with...others are genuine and nice and make the effort. Others are in cliques so tight that they nearly form a circle around each other...take care if you penetrate that....!!!
As for the PTA, they are o.k. Our class Rep is certainly lacking in the social skills and she "interviewed " me one day and then ignored me for the rest of the time. I am not too bothered...I will be returning to my career soon...I have established myself at the school gate...I know enough Mums who are genuinely lovely people. I have one "coffee friend" and I would say to the new Mum...give it a chance, find the Mums whose children are friendly with your one, organise a few play dates but don't get stressed about it. Volunteer for a few school activities if there are any....that really helps as you are doing something together.
I am useless at small chat and also came from outside our school set up/don't easily make friends. I would echo the idea of making friends out of school. It will give you a boost in confidence to have something to enjoy or talk about, when you do get chatting to other mums. You can join a gym or exercise class, or a book group, if that is more your thing. Volunteering is also a great way to start to meet new people, or failing that, just keep MNetting! It gives you plenty of contact with other people, and ideas of things to drop into conversation. Ideally do a bit of each and then you can stick with the things which work, and drop the others.
Volunteering in school is a great way to start to get to know people, without having to make small talk. Signing up to serve teas for an hour, make costumes for the school play, volunteer to take biscuits/slices of orange along to a sports match, if they need them, or just to generally be helpful, gives you a reason for talking to other parents, without feeling needy.
Why not write down your email address for the class rep and hand it to her with a smile, to say that you would love to hear about anything going on, and that you will let her know too if you get a mobile. Remember she is a volunteer too, and probably busy. I had my arm twisted to be class rep one year, having been told that I just needed to be there to field questions if needed. It was an awful job, which I was useless at! In the meantime, you can have a word with the class teacher/school secretary to see if there is any information you should have had, but have missed out on .. .
Best of luck. You sound a lovely person, and with a few months behind you, could start to feel much more part of the place.
I moved a while ago and found the way I've got to know other Mum's was by the dc's being invited to tea and returning the invitation. It takes a while and some it's a polite chat when picking up the dc's and others I'm beginning to meet up with away from the dc's.
A phone is a must.
I just wanted to say a BIG THANK YOU to everyone who replied, thank you so much for the lovely and usefull messages. I was really overwelmed.
I am pleased to announce that i have bought myself a phone this morning all due to your advice, I hope it will help next term ;)
I have written down all your tips and will be sure to do my best to implement these and just be myself and let time be my guide.
I am so pleased to hear i am not the alien out there, i can`t tell you ladies how much this has helped me and given me the motivation to make my "lonely" situation better in September.
Thank you all again so much ! Shame i cannot meet you all @ the gates tomorrow morning ... now that would be nice. Hopefully things will turn and yes, the most importent is my daughter whom is very happy.
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