CAPTION: Be as interested in other people’s children as you’d like them to be in yours. Credit: Pixabay
When you go back to school as a parent, it can bring back memories of your own first days at a new school, when you wanted to fit in and for everyone to like you. Although you’re the grown-up now, settling in at a new school community can be a daunting experience.
Recent research from money-saving website Voucherbox has shown that even a primary school playground has the potential to be a toxic environment, with one in three parents saying they disliked some of their children’s friends parents and 41% of respondents saying they didn’t like at least one of their children’s friends.
Looking at those kinds of survey findings, it’s easy to see how you might accidentally offend someone at a school playground. Follow these tips to steer your way through playground cliques and politics and make the school run a time you look forward to, not one that you dread.
You Don’t Need to be Perfect
The perfect mum. Every playground has at least one. She not only looks like she just stepped off a catwalk but also has children who are impeccably turned out, and make the same uniform your kids are wearing look like designer couture. Maybe that’s you, but if not, don’t worry about it. Take comfort in the fact that those super-mummies aren’t always universally popular as they can make other people feel inferior. So what if you’re only in jeans and a jumper, and who cares if your cakes for the class bake sale came from the supermarket?
Don’t Pick Sides
There’s often a divide in the playground between working mums and those who stay at home. Similarly, there might be cliques of older mums and younger mums. Don’t feel you have to slot into one particular circle – you can mix and match who you talk to and spend time with. Be open and friendly with everyone and if you see someone looking sidelined, do what you’d hope your child would do with their peers. Make the effort to include them in the conversation.
— Standard Issue (@StandardIssueUK) October 18, 2016
Avoid Gossiping about other people’s kids
School playgrounds have always been a great place for gossip, but one thing to never discuss is other people’s children. You may find a child’s behaviour unacceptable, but it’s best not to share your judgement with anyone else. Similarly, don’t repeat rumours you’ve heard about a child – they may be unfounded and you may be talking to their parent’s best friend, for all you know. That kind of gossip could also burn potential friendship bridges too – some people might not want to befriend you if they think you’ll talk about them at the school gates.
CAPTION: Parents should stick to playground etiquette too
The mum who goes on about her own kids all the time can quickly become the playground bore. Make sure the conversations you have are two-way, and that you ask how other people’s children are getting on. It’s also nice to pay other parents compliments about their children – you know you’d like to hear good things about your own kids.
It may be a cliché but wherever you happen to be – at work, at an exercise class or at the school gates waiting for your kids – you shouldn’t try to put on a front and be something that you’re not. Remember, you’ll know these parents for a good few years as the kids move through primary school, so you don’t want to have to put on an act every time you go to drop off or collect the kids.