You may have found yourself in shock when your children started school. The realisation that you, in effect, are going back to school too. Now it seems whether you like it or not ( I most certainly do not) you have to face the confusing dynamics of the school playground.
I am not shy by any means and enjoy meeting new people. I offer a smile and a “good morning” to those whose eye I manage to catch. This said the school gate can be an intimidating and lonely place. The old feelings of “will they like me? “begin to creep in and the intellectual brain bows out and leaves the primitive, negative brain to take over the morning. The primitive mind is a negative mind and it is responsible for all our feelings of panic, anxiety and despair and it will always see everything from the worst possible perspective.
So there you are children in hand, and the feeling of not only represent yourself but them. Their social life may depend on how friendly you are or how you come across in the playground. So, you must battle the primitive brain and smile no matter how you are feeling and try and not make a complete tit of yourself.
Now stood in a sea of people who know each other and who are laughing and sharing stories of what they have done at the weekend is scary. For anyone suffering with anxiety, depression or other mental health issues it may feel that you are completely alone, and everyone is either laughing at you, talking about you or even worse don’t even care that you exist. This is your primitive brain again working against you. So, you look to a group to the right and hear the mothers discussing coffee after, but nobody asks you, your anxiety increases, and you fight back the tears and smile. The group to the left talk about the night out they had and the isolation you feel is eating you up inside.
How many mothers feel this way? Mother of two Sarah Ebner was so upset with all that she witnessed when her children started school that she wrote a book about the subject “The starting school Survival Guide” well worth a read.
Now, if we look at the school playground and use our intellectual brain, which always comes up with answers based on a proper assessment of the situation we may see it a little differently. You are not alone; everyone has a story, and everyone is doing the best job that they can. The group of mums chatting and laughing all individually have their own worries and this is possibly their one interaction with adults in the day. Perhaps you are one of those mums stood in the group laughing and joking and you don’t notice what is going on around you, or the person stood alone desperately trying to make eye contact.
A smile is free, you can give it to another person, and it can brighten up their day. Be proactive, start up conversation with another parent. Be the one to suggest coffee, become involved in what is happening in the school community.
How do we survive those people that are negative? Just be you.
1) Some people just don’t want to make new friends so let them be and move on.
2) Be open minded about the people you want to make friends with.
3)Don’t walk in expecting to be universally popular.
4) Use the parent websites to make connections with those that may have similar interests.
5)Avoid negative interactions as this will only feed your primitive brain. Positive actions and positive interactions are key.
6) dip your toe into the PTA. volunteer a bit and the shared goal of organising an event is a less stressful way –– to get to know people rather than asking them for a coffee.
If you feel judged then stop and think for a moment that if a person is going to judge you on what you wear, your size, your hair then are these the sort of people that you want to be friends with in the first place. If you feel ignored by “friends” ask yourself if that is how you want to be treated and if the answer is no then walk away. Friendships are a two-way street and it’s about understanding and give and take.
Remember mothers are busy, schools constantly have something to make, a costume to prepare, a competition to win and that’s before homework and your children’s social lives to plan. As mothers and friends, we should build one another up. Help each other to be the best we can be. We are all good enough because we are all doing our best. SO, if you are the cake mum or the costume mum or just the busy work mum who buys the cakes and costumes its all good because to your kids you are mum, and you are amazing. To real friends you are just that, a friend who is doing her best. If you see a mum struggling offer a smile and a helping hand not a look of judgement.
The world isn’t easy, and we must teach our children that friendship can be amazing, and that people can be wonderful but the best way to do this is to lead by example.