I loathe the school run, yes, I said it. I no longer sugar coat a single thing. I absolutely full heartedly loathe it. Every morning I go into the sunken place and have to return there again at about 3:25pm when I enter the dreaded playground.
Pre children I toyed with the idea and daydreamed about coffee dates with other mama’s, my children playing blissfully with others and being on the PTA committee was certainly at the top of my list. Fast forward 15 years and I’m totally uncommitted to the politics of the playground.
Now, if you loathe it as much as I do, then here’s your survival kit for the dreaded playground.
Make a Dash
If you’re like me and want to make a quick dash in and out then this works a treat. Leave it until the final minute to enter the school playground. With seconds to go you won’t have to indulge in small talk and can grab and go!
Music to my ears
Earphones are a dream. Picture this, you rock up to school with your earbuds in - listening to your favourite Beyoncé jam. You’re in your element and concentrating on the messages that Queen Bey is sending your way. People can see that you're somewhat preoccupied and nobody is really going to tap you on the shoulder to ask you about your donation to the upcoming bake sale.
Surprisingly enough, the school gates can drag up feelings reminiscent to your own school days. Mama’s can be cliquey (and maybe sometimes even a little bitchy) but hey what can you do? Try your very best to not feel or look intimidated by the cliques. Remember that some women have probably known each other for a while and have had time to form these relationships. Try to just nod and smile, and do not arouse any suspicions that you my feel threatened, as these women that purposely form cliques can smell fear like wildcats.
Is there and should there be a dress code for the playground you ask? Sadly, what you wear may make or break you. Let's be honest. There are those that turn up in sweats that look as if they've just been released from an 8 year prison sentence and those who over do it slightly in Louboutin's and a Prada handbag slung over their forearm (not that there's anything wrong with either of these), but you should surely find some sort of middle ground, in order to feel comfy but classy simultaneously.
If you don't want to stone cold everyone and are not the type to dash in and out like I am, then a simple smile does wonders. Not cheshire cat style might I add and not one that is permanently attached to your face either. Simply smile at others when they glance your way, which will show that you are both friendly and open to conversation (even if it is about that pesky cake sale).
Do You It can be really daunting walking into the playground, especially if your child has just started or you have just moved, therefore are new to the school. The pressure of making friends falls just as much on you as it does your child. There will be fully formed cliques, people that awkwardly stand well apart from anybody else, so as not to engage in conversation and some that simply just prefer their own space. Simply do whatever works for you.
If you're into the whole play date/coffee date thing then this could be the perfect solution for you. Talk to your mini and find out who they are friendly with in class. Find out who their parents are and after a good few hellos, nods of acknowledgement and chats in the playground, invite them round for coffee. This can really help in forming a good relationship with even one parent.
Avoid gossip at all costs. There is truth in the fact that us mama's like to have a good talk, but refrain in doing so when it comes to anybody else, their child or members of the school. Sadly, we can all be judgemental, but the playground is certainly not the place to be passing it around. Words can spread like wildfire, and what was once possibly said in jest could have a long lasting negative effect on your personal rep.
Nobody likes a show off so never run into school in top of the range running shoes, in the tightest pair of leggings on the market, with a Nike headband stapled to your forehead, whilst jogging on the spot in order to keep up your pace. You will only get that side eye again, trust me. Do not brag about your planned summer holiday to Cannes or overly discuss your child achievements either.
Last, but by far maybe the most important, remain neutral in everything. From what you wear to discussions about teaching styles and policies. Try to not show to much angst and if all fails,save this article, print it out and revert to it over the next 7 years whenever the politics of the playground arise.