How To Make Mum Friends At The School Gatesby Ellie Thompson
Make a good first impression
Is it just me that feels slightly overcome with dread at the prospect of my eldest starting school? Why? I hear all you confident women cry. For the simple reason, that school mums terrify me.
Yep. It's time for making mum friends.
I’ve watched all three seasons of Motherland so I know exactly what to expect. I mean, what are the chances of meeting a Meg? An alpha mum with a big heart that will take me under her wing, and we’ll be BFFs for life? That's what I call making mum friends. Okay, I might have to decline the mid-week drinking sessions that last until 4 am and finish with urinating in the street, but prospective new school mothers, you should know I’m good for a few wines on the weekend. I can be a laugh. I’m sure I can. (Pretty sure…)
So, in this story, I’m the frazzled protagonist trying to cram in full-time working hours around multiple pick-ups for various children (okay, it’s only two children, but that’s still four lots of taxiing every day), but I realise that first impressions count. And I like to think I have a shit load more empathy than Julia, so that means I’ve got a lot to give, right? I can be the whole package! Who wouldn’t want to date me? I mean, befriend me?
So, tips on making mum friends, let's go.
My first tip to myself is to concentrate on making a good first impression on day one. Nothing too flash - I’ll leave the Ferrari at home in the drive, but must not appear too drab… might park in a side street so nobody can judge us for not turning up in a Range Rover Evoke. Let’s face it, we do live in Surrey, and if making mum friends depends on the status symbols, I’m going to be last picked for the team.
Perhaps we’ll walk to school.
On the upside, the school is big on caring for the environment, so ditching the automobile will fit in nicely with its ethos… I would have to run home like the clappers to get back in time for work though… Will anybody see me do that? Can I even still run?
So, to nail that first impression I'm going to turn up looking like I have my house, my kids, and my life in order. Yes, this is me, nice to meet you, I have my shit together. See?! Let's be mates.
Names… Remember names…
So simple, so important, and yet so tricky. I’m rubbish at remembering people’s names. I will have to mentally dedicate quite a bit of time to this task, but it will be worth it in the end. It’s also not just the mummy names I need to remember, it’s also the names of their kids. Even more tricky.
Making the first move
According to Wiki, it’s pretty easy to make friends. You don’t have to worry too much about saying anything special, you just start talking. Say something nice, always make eye contact, and smile.
Making mum friends sounds simple, right? But it’s important to pick your intended recipient carefully. You need to suss out who looks like your sort of person. You get one shot at ingratiating yourself into the right friendship group, so be prepared.
Master the art of small talk
Introduce yourself. A good one if you’re sure other mums are newbies at the gate too, or, equally, if you’re happy to look as keen as mustard to everybody else there at the drop-off. And why not? This is your moment.
Compliments are always good. “I love your shoes!” – you must first look at the shoes before rolling that line out. You just never know what atrocities these people might be wearing on their feet.
It’s always best to keep compliments as vague as possible when you’re still at the small-talk stage. This is not a time for getting too up close and personal, verbally or physically. "You're pressing up against me a bit there, Anne." says Amanda... And ain't nobody got time for that.
To summarise: Make chit-chat. Focus on the person at hand. Don’t talk about yourself too much, ask them questions, show you’re listening by nodding at them enthusiastically every now and then.
Don’t flirt with the Dads
If you want to get good at making mum friends, don’t flirt with the dads.
According to Warren Bull at The Daily Fail, I mean Mail, playgrounds are in fact, “a hotbed of flirting, envy and emotion…” Wow, Warren Bull, which school are your kids at? This sounds beyond even my wildest expectations.
The same article reports that 3% of women have admitted to flirting with other dads, with 1% making eyes at a teacher, or get this – the caretaker! Wow, what are the odds of this school having a sexy caretaker worth winking at, I wonder? (I’m pretty sure all the teachers are female.)
So that’s 97% of mums that reckon dad flirting is a big no-no. And a grand total of 3% that will flirt with Jamie. Must figure out who they are so I can shoot them dagger looks.
Aim high, aim for the WhatsApp group
The goal of all of the above has got to be the honour of being invited to join the WhatsApp group. A large chat group full of the mums you want to be mates with. A place where you can find out exactly what Tobias’s mum thinks of the school dinners, and who's going on the swishest holiday. (Not me.) Gain entry, and you’ll have your finger on the pulse as well as automatic entry to playdates and extra-curricular social events – aka the pub. (Well, this is Surrey, so it’s more likely to be Prosecco parties on the lawn. Whatever, I’m game.)
Dealing with rejection
Personally, I'm getting better at dealing with rejection. Two years ago, I was given a number by an upbeat mum I met in the pub. This woman was SO friendly, and forward. She made me save her number on my phone and she told me to text her. I waited a couple of days (not to seem too keen) and then obediently followed her instruction and WhatsApp’d her. She didn’t reply. I saw her again for the first time last week in the same pub. I know so little about this woman that I’d actually forgotten her name. Nevertheless, I was greeted by the same uber-friendly nature and following a half-hour chat, was given the same call to action. "You've got my number, haven't you? Text me and we'll do something!" Two days passed. I text her on Sunday. It’s now Friday. No reply. Hashtag awkward.
So, the lesson is, not everybody is going to like you. Making mum friends can be hard. You think you've made a friend but then, you realise they don't actually want you to text them when they ask you to. Sometimes it’s just impossible to read the room.
My advice? Avoid the cliques that make you feel small. Try not to take things too personally. We've all got shit going on besides the school run, it's not you, it's them. You’ll find your girls, and if you don’t, join the PTA.