When my girls started school I was worried about making new friends for myself! I know when you’re 30+ you’re supposed to have it all sussed, but turns out I was just as anxious about what to do, where to stand and who I was going to talk to at the school gates as my kids were!
So if you’re facing the same dilemma here are five things I did that helped me make new friends at the school gate. They’re not rocket science and I’m sure you do them anyway, but they helped me enormously!
1.) Arrived Early – that way people came to me to start a conversation and I didn’t have to stand waiting awkwardly or try to join an existing group.
2.) Said Hello and Smiled – I read somewhere that if you don’t make conversation within three seconds of someone standing in your vicinity than you generally don’t start it at all – at which point it feels awkward. So however uncomfortable I felt I always said hello when someone came to stand close by. I always tried to smile, even if I wasn’t feeling very smiley. I found people were much more likely to talk to me when I was smiling.
3.) Asked open questions – I used to ask other parents about their kids, I found it always went down well. “How is your little one settling in?”, “What have you got planned for today?” and at the end of the day “What have you been up to today?” Better still, if I saw the same person, I could (when I could remember) asked them how their ‘supermarket shop’, ‘day at work’, ‘trip to town’ had been which helped me build on-going relationships with them.
4.) Volunteered to help out with school activities (only small ones! Ha!)- from collecting prizes for the PTA raffle to helping out on the annual cake stall. It meant a lot of parents got to know my name and I got to find out who they all were too and got the pick of the best cakes! Ha!
5.) Helped out in the classroom – tricky one if you have younger siblings, but I found trying to make the time to help out on the shorter school trips (like the Autumn walk) for an hour or so was a good way to see what goes on in school, discover who the other children in the class were and meet other parents who had also offered to help.
Good luck, I found it daunting when I started, but now I have some lovely Mama friends (and don’t volunteer as much! Ha!)
Have you got any tips to share? What worked for you?