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At the end of my tether with school mums

(16 Posts)
LittleFluffyClouds43 Wed 04-May-16 16:04:48

I know this has been done to death on here so apologies in advance but I would really love some advice on how to handle a school mums situation I have. I have 5 children, the eldest is in secondary now and the youngest in reception. When my eldest started school, I entered the whole school playground thing with wide eyed innocence, was friendly and open, knew nothing of these little issues that go on behind the scenes with cliques and bickering etc etc that I have had the pleasure of experiencing over the years! Anyway, I chatted to whoever, became friendly with some and honestly have been burnt time and time again by people taking advantage....dropping their kids in to me (uninvited) to 'mind, just for a couple of hours', inviting one child for a playdate and having him and his 4 year old brother dropped instead, been asked to take a child in at 7.30am for a week and then drop to school as a favour to mum who has to work....actually when I put it down in writing it makes me sound like an idiot!! And I obviously am a bit of a pushover!

This was all when my eldest was younger and I've learned since then not to be taken advantage of for childcare. I honestly couldn't believe people would be so cheeky at the time. So I've learned to keep my distance from any of that. BUT I still seem to befriend mothers who are inclined to do this kind of thing. Just using other school mothers for childcare in the guise of friendship with the mothers, if you see what I mean. I am 'friends' for a number of years with a group of 4 mothers from my second daughter's class....we have had nights out, playdates, park visits, all of that, but over the years there have always been these mixed messages....blowing hot and cold, all over me one day, cool the next, and I have just reached the end of my tether with it. All over me when they want/ need something, cool when they don't. It has taken me years to realise that these are not real friends, that this is not real friendship, that real friends don't 'use' each other. I know that sounds ridiculous, but in every other walk of life, when I have made friends with someone, we were just friends, it was normal, we hung out socialised, whatever, there was never, ever any of this weird politics that I have experienced with school parents over the years.

We have a few days off school right now and I got caught up in a 'playdate' organising session that is running over 3 days.....'you mind them one day, I'll take them the next', this kind of thing. I kind of walked into it, thinking it was just ordinary playdates being organised but it turned into one girl dropping her kids to another at 9am til 3pm so she could go to work, then another offering to take all the kids from 8am the following day, crazy stuff! Up to 7 children in a small house at a time for a 'playdate', just who is enjoying that!! I just don't want to get involved in this kind of thing, I don't need childcare, I am off work when my kids are off school!! I offered to take their daughters (4 girls, friends of my daughter) for an afternoon and have already been manipulated into having a younger sibling too! I am just waiting for the others to try the same! I can't understand these women....are they happy to use each other like this? I hate it and really want to get away from it at this stage. It is slightly complicated by the fact that I am a drama teacher and teach a couple of these women's children, so have a professional relationship with them too and so obviously can only distance myself so much. I am so sorry to the longwinded post!!!!!! Any advice greatly appreciated. I am at the stage where I nearly want to distance myself from ALL school parents, but at the same time, don't want to do that, as I like the connection with the school. I have been trying to just do 'distance friendly' but keep seem to get roped into situations like these. Thanks so much!!!!!!!!!!!

ImmaculateInception Wed 04-May-16 16:15:34

I don't know the answer but I feel your pain.

I am only at the start of the whole primary school mum friendship thing, but already have experienced making a new 'friend' and then being dropped unceremoniously when it turns out we can't do playdates during the working week, only on weekends or during school holidays.

It's not fun at all, is it?

LittleFluffyClouds43 Wed 04-May-16 16:22:14

haha! Yes, that's just it! You think you've hit it off with someone and when they realise they can't use you for anything they move on!

peacheshoney Wed 04-May-16 16:23:05

I have 4 children and can honestly say I recognise none of that.
people have generally have clubs and/or grandparents, work from home etc.

Chalk2000 Wed 04-May-16 22:44:48

Is there a way you could address the situation if people are really taking advantage of using you for childcare? Could Say id love to help I'm really sorry but I have work today and just can't etc ? X good.luck (PS. I agree people do blow hot and cold!) ....

Cressandra Thu 05-May-16 10:43:58

Have to say I've not come across this much.

I think the issue is inequality. If you wouldn't dream of asking the favours they do, you get taken advantage of. If you were just as brazen, it's a system that could actually work quite well. If they are using each other but regularly paying back the favours, no harm done. But the problem is when it involves someone who is often available and too polite to say no - sound like you?

The childcare swaps over days off are a legit way of organising childcare. But if you don't need the childcare, don't "play". You've done these families enough favours already. Wanting to give your DC some quality one to one time or quiet family time should be enough of a reason to avoid it this time.

Or you could start asking for more favours - evening babysiting etc. Only if you want to.

NewLife4Me Thu 05-May-16 10:49:06

I haven't come across this neither, it must be a real pain.
the only advice I have is to all of a sudden change your attitude and just drop and run.
Don't be unfriendly just don't get involved with it all, invent a permanent change of circumstances.
Could you not gain a job where you work from home so you have to be tied to certain times.
Not sure if this will help but it might stop parents taking the piss and more likely to stick to arrangements and times.

LittleFluffyClouds43 Thu 05-May-16 11:11:55

Yes you are quite right Cressandra that does sound like me! You're right it obviously does work for some people, I have just allowedmyself to get caught up in something I am not happy with, I suppose because I wanted to hold on to the friendship? But I guess if that isall the friendship is based on, then I am being quite short sighted really. Thanks all, it helps to clarify things in writing sometimes, actually I feel like a bit of a twit really, complaining about a situation I walked myself into! 😳

LittleFluffyClouds43 Thu 05-May-16 11:13:03

btw I do work part times but only recently so am probably still 'seen' as available, yet I am not!

GretchenBeckett Thu 05-May-16 11:14:51

I have two dc in high school and one in primary. I have never experienced bickering, cliques etc. I think you maybe need to look at the kind of people you choose to become friends with.

Cressandra Thu 05-May-16 11:21:34

Enough putting yourself down Fluffy!

I suspect you got into this situation because you are likeable, and as mum of 5 you are seen as a very safe pair of hands. Oh, and you were nice and helped them out. Hardly crime of the century! But enough is enough. I dunno about your friends though - I would avoid asking someone with 5 kids for childcare favours, I'd assume they probably have their hands full already!

Vaara Thu 05-May-16 12:03:36

I think I'm experiencing this.

I'm a LP and work full time. It probably took a year before I realised that DS doesn't get invited anywhere, and at the same time I noticed other kids who I knew were from different families skipping out and going home together.

It is sad. I don't really know what to do about it. I invited a couple of kids to Ds's party but he didn't get any invites back. Luckily he has friends through me or through clubs so he's not short of playmates when he wants.

bojorojo Thu 05-May-16 12:23:16

Where I live, it was the Mums of 5 who never had anyone else round! They were the ones who palmed their children off on smaller families for lifts and playing after school so they could take number 3 to piano or number 4 swimming! You must be a saint, Littlefluffy.

I would try and evaluate what a friendship really means. Is someone friends with you just for the unpaid babysitting while they work, or are they genuine friends that would help you out in a crisis? From your post you do seem to be taken advantage of.

I think you do need to say "I am sorry but I cannot have X round today because I am busy" or "I need to take my children to X and I do not have any room in the car" or "I really need to prepare for my teaching tomorrow" or something similar. I think your younger chidren should be allowed to invite a single child around for tea and that you accommodate one play date at your house each week. After school and not all day unless you really want that child to accompany a trip out with you or you want them for lunch. Gradually start being firm and do edge away from people who are using you. You will find that other parents might be more realistic friends. Also now you are working, do you need these parents as friends anyway? My close friends are not parents of my childrens' friends.

FarAwayHills Thu 05-May-16 15:25:45

I have one or two 'friends' that have tried it on in ways similar to your situation OP. One started out as a 'could you do me a huge favour and pick DCs up after school today as I have to work late'. Next week and week after same request, being all nice and pally with me, until I realise that I'm being used as regular free after school care. So I sent an awkward text making excuses saying really sorry I can't do this every week as we are really busy etc and she just totally blanks me from then on. I later find out she has done the rounds of several others doing the same thing!

I think you need to remember OP that these people are not genuine friends just aquaintances with childcare benefits.

Pocketrocket31 Thu 05-May-16 18:00:29

Is just tell them, I've had enough of other people's kids thanks, I'm of work, want to spend some time with my kids & I'm not a free child minder confused

Chalk2000 Thu 05-May-16 18:44:25

I think if these people re pay you by helping you out if you need it that's fair sounds like some of it is becoming one sided? X

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