Q&A: terrified of preschool social scene

Christy writes:

"With the upcoming school year approaching I was hoping to get you andperhaps your wonderful commenters to help me through something. My
daughter (who just turned three) is starting preschool in September and
I’m so incredibly nervous. Not for HER. For ME. This child is one of
the most outgoing, excited, adventurous little people on planet earth
and she wants so much to be out of the house and exploring with other
kids. (For some back round- she was in home daycare until she was 13
months and I’ve been home with her since. Aside from a couple of gym
classes, this will be her first real classroom experience with lots of
other kids.) I certainly don’t expect perfection but I know she’ll do
great. So onto me. I don’t have an easy time making friends and parent
involvement is a big part of the preschool we chose. I did this on
purpose because I know I have to make the leap into the league of 
“preschooler parents”, but I truly am scared shitless. I really don’t
have any other mom friends my age (late 20’s) and I feel so intimidated
by the whole process. I’m not exactly sure what I’m looking for
here…maybe an idea of what other moms look for in their “parent
friends” or some helpful preschool parent etiquette? I certainly don’t
want to use my child to gain a social life but it would be nice to feel
comfortable with a couple other moms to share the experience of life
with a 3 year old. ANY advice surrounding this topic would really help
ease me in to preschool life!"

I think making friends is a system. People who do it naturally don't think of it as a system, but it's something that can be learned. I'll break it down into the steps I can think of, and if anyone else thinks of more, please add them.

1. Be yourself. Your mother's been saying it for years, but she's right. You have a ton of outstanding qualities that would make people want to be your friend, whether you're shy or loud, an optimist or a pessimist, snarky or earnest, or you like dark chocolate or milk chocolate. People want to be around people who are comfortable with themselves, so make no apologies, let your freak flag fly, and be who you are.

2. Pick the right school for you and your child. This all goes back to #1, which is that you have to be able to be who you hare. If you've gotten yourself into a school in which everyone else is waaay different from you, you're going to feel like the odd woman out all the time.

If your interests are in sustainable agriculture and environmentalism, then you probably won't be super-happy at a school in which everyone drives Denalis or Canyoneros or whatever the hugest SUV is. If you like lots of structure then the crunchy preschool where the only curriculum is running around and painting each other purple may not be the place you're going to find bosom friends. That doesn't mean you focus on externals, because the mom wearing the Motorhead T-Shirt and the mom in heels and a suit for work could be best friends because they just click, but if you find displays of wealth crass and your preschool is a feeder school for the cast of Gossip Girl, then things may not be a great fit.

3. Join up, in a way you feel comfortable with. The best way to get to know other parents is to be around other parents. So volunteering is a good way to meet people. But pick something that you'll at least halfway enjoy doing. Maybe you want to help sort and label books for the library, or plan fundraisers or put together information packets or do the newsletter. All of these things are giving you opportunities to talk (or email with) other parents. I definitely believe that 90% of life is showing up, so pick something and keep showing up.

4. Take it off site. After a couple of sessions of sorting permission slips or editing copy, you can suggest that you take it off school grounds or off email. "I could use some caffeine. Do you want to get a cup of coffee?" Memorize it, then use it.

5. It's for the children! If #4 scares you too much, then turn it into a playdate. "Poindexter comes home every day talking about Tigerlily. It sounds like they like to play together a lot. Do you guys want to come over on Saturday at 10 for a playdate?" Because then it's not about you, it's about the kids. But you'll be talking and getting to know each other. Unless the playdate ends in violence, you'll probably have another one.

6. Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Sometimes it's easier to approach someone if it's kind of a group thing. Plus, if you end up not really clicking with one person, there are a couple of others to mitigate at that, and maybe you'll click with one of them. You can approach it as a group playdate (outside works really well for groups of kids) or as a kind of "parents night out" kind of thing.

Anyone have anything else?

0 thoughts on “Q&A: terrified of preschool social scene”

  1. I think #3 is key getting involved to a lot of things – not just preschool, but older kid stuff too – team sports, boy or girl scouts, etc. Sign up for a job that you like and you actually have time to do – If you’re not keen on numbers or excel, don’t sign up for the cookie chair, maybe sign up to be the one to order t-shirts or be in charge of the uniform bank.You can get business cards or “Moo” cards printed up with your child’s picture, name, and contact info too.
    I have trouble figuring out what I have in common with other parents (other than the kid in question), so I usually stick to that.

  2. One of my biggest problems is feeling very rejected when I ask somebody to do something and I get a lukewarm response. I feel like I just asked somebody out on a date and got turned down. I have found that e-mail really helps me get over this anxiety. When you e-mail somebody and suggest a get-together, it eliminates a lot of the interpersonal tension (real or imagined). The other person is not put on the spot and can check her availability at her leisure.The next couple of things I’m going to say are going to be in the “practice what you preach” category, because I’m perfectly comfortable telling other people what to do, but I don’t always follow my own advice. One thing is to remember that MOST other moms in playgroup/preschool are just as eager to make friends as you are, and just as scared to make the first move. They would appreciate it if you were the one to make the first move. The other thing to keep in mind is that you aren’t automatically going to be buddy-buddy with any woman who has the capacity to bear or adopt children. That is, just being moms doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll click.

  3. Well I’m not a social guru but my tips (adding to the above) are:It’s okay to be enthusiastic, even if a possible friendship doesn’t work out. Nothing wrong with saying “I’d love to have coffee with you” or “I really enjoyed talking to you yesterday, want to get together sometime?”
    I actually take the slick approach, which I share to give you a laugh. I sidle up to a mom and say “God, I hate the mom dating scene. By the way, what’s your sign?” But this is because if someone doesn’t get that humour, it’s almost pointless anyway, for me. Still I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being explicit. As long as you’re genuinely seeking friends and not, like, people to pay your rent.
    Until you’ve been friends for a year, it’s not personal. It’s not personal if someone doesn’t get back to you (probably their life is a secret mess and they lost the message), and it’s not personal if they just don’t feel like you clicked.
    I think this goes especially for parents, because if they are anything like me, their life is suddenly a LOT about triage: Am I going to clean the bathroom, shave my legs, make muffins, or call someone back, or attempt some kind of multi-tasking resulting in dropping the phone in the toilet, to the shrieking glee of my toddler?
    So if possible, waste as little time as possible wondering if there’s anything wrong with you if a few people don’t click with you. There is nothing, nothing wrong with you.

  4. @Shandra- your comments about “triage” are definitely true for me. I get so busy with work, family, etc., that it is hard to make time even for the friends I already have. Hubby and I want to make more friends with other parents, but apparently not enough for it to become a priority.So my advice is to cut yourself and the other parents some slack on the social niceties. I’m an extrovert, and I don’t really have a problem talking to people I’ve just met or striking up conversations at playgrounds. But I still don’t find myself making as many Mommy friends as I would like. It is just hard to juggle everything. As with everything else in my life, I’m working on lowering my expectations of myself and setting realistic goals.

  5. I hate making friends. I think I’m a good friend and I love my friends once they are my friends, but I suck at the “system” of it.I think #3 above is key, but I want to add something to it. Hang out in the hallway after you’ve dropped off your child, and get to school early to hang out in the hallway before you pick her up. Then you can make small talk without any pressure. Even if the other moms know one another and aren’t chatty the first couple of days of this, they will get chatty because you will naturally become one of the late-leaver/early-arriver crowd. This has worked really well for me.
    Good luck!

  6. @Shandra, the ‘it’s not personal’ is the most important thing for me. I just mentioned this on my DC Meetup redux post yesterday, actually (in the philosophical commentary at the end). Sometimes you’re just in a similar place, and sometimes you’re not. Sometimes even when you’ve been yoked side-by-side for years, if the paths turn, you diverge completely and that’s also not personal. It’s situational. Heck, our best friends (as a couple) are people we see once a year, at this point… if I don’t see someone or things fade away or whatever, it is STILL not personal. Unless the other person tells me it is something I did or did not do, it just isn’t personal.Yes, I get the little ‘eek, crud, did I do something wrong?’ feeling in the pit of my stomach, at times. But other than a repeat ping and request for another get-together, I’m going to assume their life is going a new way or a different way. They’re allowed to not click with me, and they’re allowed to not like me, and they’re allowed to not have time for or patience for my kind of person.
    One of the concrete tips I learned through experience is that it is useful to have an open plan for post-playdate, because if the situation is warming up and looking like a long-term friendship potential, it just feels icky to say ‘no, I can’t stay for dinner, we promised to do…’ – the best mom-date (playdate source) friend I have, was a playdate that went from 2 hours to 6 hours and ended with me calling DH to invite him over for dinner. Having that day be open allowed me to roll with it, and carry the friendship to a greater depth faster, with fewer schedule conflicts that might have set us up for ‘eh, maybe not’ down the pike. (I wish I could take credit for that, but it was ep who said, ‘if you get to talking, and you want to keep going, it won’t be fun to stop – don’t set a time to come back’)
    We don’t do a lot of playdates at this point – time is short, kids are many. But I also still try to work out a schedule if someone asks.
    Another tip for asking others (um, me) for a playdate opportunity – if you ask me for a playdate, ask me for exactly what weekends (or times, etc.) would work best. I will have to get back to you, but if it’s just ‘we should do a playdate some time’ I tend to take it as ‘we like you and your child’ but not ‘I’m serious about getting to know your family better’ or ‘my child won’t let me breathe between asking if your child is coming over’. Asking for or proposing some possible dates lets me know it is serious – even if we stand there for 5 minutes going ‘oh, wait, September is booked. October? Um, we could do early October, but not late… you can’t do early October? How about November? If we get in before Thanksgiving, maybe, let me check…’ (YMMV, I suppose – it may vary by region as well, but *actual date questions* seem to be the ‘pay attention, I’m serious’ cue around here. Or maybe they’re just the only cue I notice… I’ve probably blown off people who were trying to be serious about it, and I didn’t notice… sigh.)

  7. Hi.. I’m definitely an introvert. I have 3 yr old boys and they are not yet in preschool. We (my husband and I) have been taking them to Sat AM music class since they were about 1 yr old or so. I LOVE that class and I think that plays into Moxie’s #2 above. Anyway, we were fortunate enough that the same families have been in our class for the last 2 years and we see them every Sat. After the first year, we had a little party at our house to celebrate the end of the first year’s class and invited all the families (there were about 5 – 7 families) and 2 wound up coming. We’ve been “dating” those families since and have reached a point that I feel that they are not just playdate friends for the boys but that the adults are now our friends and we could actually do (and want to do) things sans kids together.Similar situation with my twins club friends. Dated though playdates and have now become closer friends than the kids are with each other. We now do girls’ nights, family get togethers, etc. and I truly think of her as a good friend. Felt so much more comfortable to “date” through playdates given my shier personality (Moxie’s rule #5). You will definitely find through the dating which people you click with versus which your daughter clicks with and so you get together because of that. Both can continue but the first one will naturally develop over time into a more traditional friendship that will last even when your kids aren’t getting together.
    Only advice is to give it time and take it slow. I still think of myself as an introvert but also now think of myself as an extrovert mom because 1) the boys make it so much easier to be an extrovert when I’m with them and in mom-mode and 2) because they need me to be an extrovert mom.
    Good luck…

  8. I second/third all the suggestions above and have one more “rejection” tip for Christy:I’m not sure if I’m an extrovert or introvert (depends on the situation, and I like meeting new people but get my energy from being alone). But I’m definitely *NOT* good at multi-tasking. So, if I’m dropping off my 3-year-old, and I’ve got a multitude of things swimming around in my mind (like I-need-to-remember-to-drop-off-the-electric-bill-on-the- way-home-and-OMG-did-I-turn-off-the-stove-before-I- left?-and-shit-I-forgot-the-pacifier-for-the- baby), I can guarantee you that any social overture will be lost on me. What that means is do try again even if I don’t seem very distracted because I’m pretty good at half-listening, even when my brain is on overload. I may not remember that I appear to be rejecting others, and I probably won’t show much enthusiasm for a social event because I just can’t multi-task my thoughts and actions very well.

  9. Thanks for all this info. It is scary to think that I am entering the dating world all over again. Isn’t that why I got married??? We just moved and I will need to start the mom-dating process all over again. Before, I was lucky enough to have some already established friends that happened to have babies around the same time I did. This is great stuff. I definitely think the “showing up” is most important for me.And now for something completely different: just had to mention that I saw a commercial recently for Gossip Girl and I was appalled. Apparently we are going to have to get rid of the t.v. before the kids become teenagers.
    Also, went to my first therapy session yesterday and I just wanted to thank the Moxie community for your encouragement in that endeavor.

  10. I’m an extrovert. I will chit chat with the other parents at the school when picking up or dropping of my child. However, I am SOOOO busy. I already have friends that I don’t have time to see between work, the kids, and my own sports activities.I do like chatting with other parents, but would prefer that it be in a kid-centred environment (i.e. a play date), so that I don’t have to take time away from my precious time with my kids to get to know you and so that I don’t have to take time away from my precious non-kid friend time to get to you know.
    If we become good friends, then you might make it onto the list of people that I prioritize spending time with during my little free time. Until then, let’s make it about the kids!

  11. Christy, first off, I think you sound really fun. Anyone that can pull off the phrase “scared shitless” in casual conversation scores points in my book. You sound like a fun, engaged, willing-to-roll-up-her-shirtsleeves kind of gal, and that’s got to be at least half the battle, right?And I’ll second (or third, or forth, or whatever number we’re at) the reassurances that rejection you may face is not necessarily about you. I credit this community with really helping me come to this understanding. When I’ve come into contact with other mamas and felt blown off I find myself thinking: “Well, who knows, maybe they visit Ask Moxie which means they’re good people. Maybe that’s Slim! Or Hush! I doubt it! But maybe! In any case, I don’t know their back story. Maybe they’re really busy, or have some serious poop to deal with. Oh well. I guess I won’t take it personally.” I’m not kidding–I have seriously said those things to myself. So maybe take heart in that. Alternately, you could also say, “Man, I bet that’s that b***h rudyinparis. I’d like to kick her in the shins!” I mean, I’ve often mused on how we might possibly all be moving in and out of each others lives and not even know it.
    I’m also lately really yearning for more couple friends. I have a fair number of good mama friends, but DH and I really don’t have the kind of social group that my parents had. I’m hoping once school enters the picture, and all that comes with that, that we’ll find our friends.
    @Beth, I hope your therapist is a good fit. I think we all good benefit from therapy, actually, even the healthiest among us. So good for you!

  12. My 2.5 yo son starts his first session of preschool this afternoon and I’m terrified. He’s oblivious, but I really hope it goes well.Reading all these comments made me wish that we all lived in the same community. Wouldn’t that be easier and so lovely?

  13. My husband and I are very shy people too. We have a very social preschool, we have integrated quite well. The best thing for us were the “off-site” events- the birthday parties. We have now ventured to play dates and I know fairly quickly if the mom and I will “hit it off”.Even if you don’t become best friends forever, it’s nice to have casual conversations with a parent whose child has things in common with your child. We transitioned to Kindergarten this year, those casual relationships are a gem right now, we are able to compare schools, teachers, etc. It also helps to aid you childs process- whether they are ahead or behind. Most parents feel the same way!

  14. Also remember that not all women love to talk on the phone and prefer face time. I recently made friends w/ another new mom and every time we’re on the phone it’s “get to the point” and then she’s done with the conversation (not that she’s rude, but she doesn’t ever call to shoot the bull, ya know?) where as I’m a “talk on the phone for hours” sort.If there is some sort of “boo hoo” breakfast at your schools first day (they do it at all the local public kindergartens where I live) jump at the chance. At least then you’ll meet a bunch of the parents who are in the same boat as you and you’ll have some concept of their personalities for later.

  15. If it looks like the weather is going to be decent, send out an email to the parents (or put up a sign by the school door) “Daughter and I are going to Central Park for a picnic lunch after school on Wednesday. We’d love to see you there.” Maybe someone will show and you can chat, but even if nobody shows, people will remember that you’re friendly.Since you’re just starting school, use this as an “opening line” with the other moms. Come up with a question about their child, like “I think that my daughter’s doing better than I am. . . how are you guys doing with school?” or “My daughter hasn’t done anything with a group yet–has your son done any group activities before?” to get the chitchat rolling. I agree with what someone said–you can tell quickly if you like someone enough to pursue them.
    If your school does social activities, like a family dinner or potluck, volunteer for a job there, so you’ll have a reason why you have to interact. Somehow it’s easier to start talking when it’s officially your job to make sure the kids have craft materials or you’re supposed to encourage the parents to play games.
    Good luck.

  16. My advice (as I could have written the question myself) is a spin-off of not putting all your eggs in one basket.Sure, you have to talk to these other parents. You have to be nice to them and respect them. But you don’t have to become best buddies. Simple small talk, involvement when necessary and being polite to THEIR children will go a long way. If a friendship evolves, it does. If not, it’s not the end of the world. I say this as a woman with only one close friend in the city which she was transplanted and that woman is not sending her child to the same preschool. I will survive. And so will you, question asker! I know it!
    Best of luck to you and the little one.

  17. I have two things to add-1) If setting up playdates makes you nervous, you might be able to get to know the other parents without any initiative/”mommy dating”. There are maybe 20 kids in our pre-school class and most of those kids have invite-everybody parties, so we were going to kid parties every weekend for much of the summer. This might vary a lot from school to school…but it has been a good way for me to get to know some other parents without too much pressure.
    2) On etiquette, the only thing I can think of that seems to be a hard-and-fast rule is that if your kid is sick but not, in your opinion, too sick to play (low fever, really snotty cold that your kid just happily wipes on her sleeve and continues playing) then you should call the play-date parent and give them the option to reschedule. When I’ve done this, usually parents tell me to come anyway because their kid is also always getting a cold, etc. But I think it is polite to check and I appreciate it when people check with me.

  18. When my daughter was in the toddler program at her same school, I felt like nobody liked me and I would never make friends. I am introveted but a fairly friendly sort. Then! At the beginning of last year, one of the moms I HAD met set out a sheet to gather email addresses next to the sign in sheet, and also to gauge interest in a coffee date (she had everybody write in times that would work). Which we did — there were probably about 10 of us, and it was just such a nice way to get to know the other moms. None of them are my new BFFs exactly (there is a group there that all live in the same town and DO socialize a lot) but just nice to have people to say hi to, sit with on field trips, etc. and we’ve been to some birthday parties, etc. that have been fun. It’s made a huge difference in how comfortable I feel there. So if doing a one on one thing won’t work, maybe asking the teachers about setting up a coffee meeting through the school directory or the sign-up sheet might be good. You probably won’t get a great turnout but the people who show up will be just as eager to meet new friends as you! One of the moms who organized it is gone now as her son’s moved on to kindergarten, and if no one else does this by October I will since it was such nice way to meet other parents.

  19. sigh… why can’t all the moxie people be friends in the tangible world? like, why aren’t you guys at my local park?i have tried, like beth and others, to make friends and always feel stymied by who i am or who i think others want me to be. it’s really hard.
    it’s hard not to worry what other people think of us and our kids. i bet other people here have that sort of nervousness–that they are being judged.
    it is like dating: be yourself, give out your phone number and get phone numbers and shop around. it took me a bunch of tries (like 6 or 10 or something like that) to find two women that i like to hang out with. there were some painful rejections and awkward situations but hey, now i have a couple of women that i like.
    hang in there. most moms/parents feel the same way i think. everyone thinks everyone else has it all together. mostly i think all of us feel like we’re balancing packing lunches and working and making dinner and laundry and sex and project runway and obama and everything else in a precarious horrifyingly scary tower. it’s hard to take on the possibility of finding the energy for friends.
    for what it’s worth, i think it really helps if you find a friend whose kid has similar issues as your own or is developmentally similar. for example, i cannot be friends with someone whose kid has been sleeping through the night since 6 weeks. my kid is 15 months old and is still up 3 times a night usually. it might be bitchy or bad of me, but i just can’t get over my jealousy. kind of embarrassing to admit, but there it is. i want to commiserate and laugh. one of the women i know also had a c-section after wanting a natural birth. that kind of bond is important to me. it’s not something we talk about all the time, but it’s relevant and i feel and she feels understood.

  20. I’ll try. All these ideas are good. I feel like I’ve been trying for seven years and while I’ve got one friend at the school now, I’m already worrying that our friendship won’t last past preschool aged kids. I still don’t feel like I have any real friends at the elementary school. I have to remember the “It isn’t personal” part. I’ll make that my mantra.I agree with Beth: Isn’t this why I got married?

  21. Strangely, I tend to do better with the grandparents than with the parents themselves. In the last 3.5 years on my regular walks around the town I live in, I have been befriended by a bevy of older people who look after their grandchildren while their daughter/DIL works. I guess they are the ones that have time to chit chat and are somehow intrigued by why an Aussie gal would come to live in the town we live in.I am slowly meeting other mothers now that DS is going to kinder. He started 4 months late as he entered on turning 3 in January and if you consider they have 3,4 and 5 year olds together in one class, there are mothers that have ‘known’ each other for as much as 2.5/3 years. Pick ups can be a bit intimidating when everyone is on first name basis and very casual and friendly and then you rock up and you don’t even get a ‘ciao’.
    The mothers I do attract, like the grandparents, are those who know I’m Australian and have an interest in the country, or need an English teacher for one of their kids. Living in a small town where all littlies go to one of two kindergartens in the town, you bump into these mothers again and again and again. Eventually you go from nodding hello, to uttering hello, to talking about holidays etc and before you know it, you have yourself some kind of rapport. Well, that’s what I keep telling myself anyway.

  22. hee hee, freak flag, canyonero…i’ll add to #5 that it’s even easier to schedule new friend playdates offsite- like at a playground, etc. that way no one has to clean, you don’t have to deal w/ all the food issues, and it keeps the time somewhat short…plus it’s easier to chat w/ another mom when you’re both chasing after kids having fun, then crying, then running, etc.
    rudyinparis, i *always* wonder that! i have rec’d this site to so many moms i know, i wonder who reads, who doesn’t…we too are desperate for more couple friends who are local- that is so much harder than mom/kid dynamic…i was reading in bhg magazine (omg i am such a tool, shut up) this woman who opens up her home every friday evening for happy hour- she provides apps, friends byob and their kids play while the parents have a low key, weekly gathering. i would love that!
    i’ve made one great mom friend since having pnut, is it wrong that i’m satisfied w/ that and don’t really want to do more right now?

  23. Great ideas. I hate the mom dating scene but all my parent friends keep moving away, so I need to keep making new ones. Also, this is a good push/reminder for me that I wanted to organize a parent contact list for the neighborhood daycare my daughter just started at…

  24. Marsupial Jones, I remember feeling so left out when a friend (who had had a C-section) I was traveling with and I struck up a conversation with another woman (who had also had a c-section)in a travel agency. They started comparing notes about thier experiences and I may as well not have even been there as they were so into ‘sharing’ their disappointment with someone who had had a similar experience. Sure common experiences do unite but I’m sure two women who have had cesears don’t spend the whole time talking about that one experience.I know I don’t feel more in tune with women whose children are pretty good sleepers just because my first child was one of those freaks who slept thru at 10 weeks. I tend not to boast about that too much ( unless I am posting on this site of course!!) Nor do I avoid mothers whose pre-schoolers can peddle around on a bicycle, whilst mine is still pushing his out grown trike around with his feet.
    Hope this comment didn’t come across too bitchy.

  25. ok – we’re starting a commune. moxie has a real bed now, right? we’ll draw straws nightly about who gets the bed & who gets the hammocks & who gets the floor. i have both a crib & a pack-n-play i’ll bring so lots of babies will have a place to sleep. during the day we’ll roam central park recruiting new true believers.waaah! i want friends! there aren’t any other babies in my teeny town of 200, and everyone else is retired. it’s sad to think you’re the most interesting person in your whole county.
    and as an aside, it’s really hard to take crawlers anywhere. they want to get down & crawl, but that’s not so nice on the floor of mcdonald’s or outside with the fire ants. it’ll be a bit nicer when he can walk. he should get the hang of it soon, i hope, since he’s already 21 months old. danged developmental delays…

  26. I am generally an extrovert, easy-going, and make friends pretty easily. And then I became a parent. Now it’s like there’s this club that all mothers are part of and someone forgot to tell me what the secret handshake is. I try to approach parents at my son’s preschool, talk to the teachers, smile at parents, try to strike up conversations at playgrounds, and there’s a total freezeout. I can’t explain it. We chat politely, but there’s nothing.And coming from a person who never had trouble making friends, this is bewildering.
    I generally just try to focus on the fact that my son loves his preschool, and he has plenty of cousins his age he sees often, and that is all that matters.

  27. This has been just the thing I needed to hear. I totally understand that feeling of rejection in the Mommy Dating Game. It doesn’t help that we live in the OC and I am so NOT the typical OC Mom. It’s hard to find Mommies like me but I’m going to keep trying. So where would the literary-bibliophiles-with-babies-who-have- never-slept-through- the- night hang out? Ideas? Are there any all night libraries? Shoot.

  28. ps-@ fahmi- I KNOW that freezeout! I’ve totally been there. Sucks. That’s the main reason I dropped one Mommy Meetup-everyone kept looking at me like I had a bunch of bananas on my head.

  29. marci- that part totally sucked about having a late-mover!! i could never take pnut to a playground or wherever when she was a baby since she couldn’t really move- it was *really* isolating- i found my only real-mom-friend after finally being able to bring her to a library baby-hour. thank god. but seriously, the idea that there may be more women out there that i’ll connect with like i do with her? seems an impossible dream to me.

  30. I have a young baby at daycare/preschool and am very appreciative of the advice offered here…. It’s been difficult for me to try to befriend the other parents, not only because we’re busy collecting babies and their things and dashing off, but because we are of such radically different income levels. I live in a very wealthy area, but I don’t have much money. It’s difficult and sometimes embarrassing to explain why we’re walking to daycare or taking the bus instead of driving up in a Mercedes, or to explain that we stay at home most vacations rather than traveling somewhere exotic. Our life just doesn’t compute for the other parents, and that makes things like arranging hang-out times very hard. But, like Fahmi, I try to focus on the fact that my kid really likes his daycare (and they really like him!). I try to focus, too, on finding more sympatico moms outside his daycare.

  31. @pnuts mama–HA! I totally read “BHG” and pondered mightiliy on it… What could that be? What could that be? Binary Holistic Galoshes? Brevity… something, something? What mag could that be? How would it make her a tool…?BETTER HOMES AND GARDENS!!! You tool!
    Ha ha, you have a bunch of bananas on your head! I’m pointing and laughing!

  32. I’m so glad you posted this. We moved across the country when my son was 6 months old, and I realized soon after that the new-parent stage of life, before preschool, is the hardest time to make new friends. So it’s been a lonely couple of years. I now have friends, but nobody I feel close to, by which I mean, nobody I can call up and say, “I had a shitty day, and by the way, what are you making for dinner while we talk?” Now that he’s in a toddler program at a school with older kids, I am meeting more people. But oh, it is long, slow going.

  33. I am an introvert and realized at my daughter’s preschool picnic that I am in serious trouble. It didn’t just feel like dating again, it had the added bonus of feeling like those first parties in college when I knew no one and wasn’t sure who was going to think I was a loser. Bad news for me because the way I dealt with my introvert nature was to drink myself silly and go home with the first boy who flirted back. I just don’t see that working real well with the moms (distinct lack of booze at 8:45am drop-off). I’m following this thread, hoping for more good suggestions of icebreakers.

  34. My daughter starts pre-k in two days. I am SO nervous! I am such an introvert, but I also really need a friend. Just one would do!Thanks for all the fabulous advice. I will be silently chanting “it’s not personal” a lot in the near future, I’m sure.

  35. big hairy gnomes…beyond heretical gnosticism…
    i could go on but naptime is only so short…
    and btw, shut up that magazine totally rocks my sad and friendless life! how else could i explain how i want my stairs to look? or the light for the bathroom? which we can’t afford?

  36. So on the etiquette side, say you’re hanging out with a mom who you like a lot and maybe say their child wails on your child and then maybe your younger, much smaller child retaliates and suddenly there is this awkward, ‘oh, we handle this differently’ moment and frankly you’re not even that sure that you’re doing it right but you know you don’t like how they did it and holy mother of God can we ever play together again…?? Do you call later and say, Um, I don’t know what the hell I’m doing and sorry if I did that wrong (can you tell I’m an over-communicator) or do you say nothing but next time up and leave as soon as things go awry to avoid said awkwardness?? Is there a handbook of rules for these things?

  37. eh, i don’t have control of the house decor since i live with my mama – in a duplex, so it’s less a sad loser existence than i can hear you thinking! plus she cooks. so anyway, i don’t even have bhg in my sad loser existence…ooh! ooh! ‘banana head group’!

  38. My 3-year old just started preschool at the same school we’ve been at for SIX YEARS now (small Catholic school) and I STILL felt this way…ugh…You’d think after that long it’d get easier (and it IS easier with the families in my older two kids’ classes) but it felt just like starting all over again…

  39. I’ve been so relieved since getting started (about a year and a half ago) at a preschool where the other families are a lot like us. They all look lots of different ways, but what I mean is, if you’re starting from the point of all being into a school’s philosophy, you have a big point of common ground. In our case, it’s a school that gets kids out in the city on public transit, so there’s definitely some self-selection for people who think that’s cool instead of crazy. We’ve found the rest of the families to be mostly friendly, relaxed and fun–we’ve gotten close to a couple of them, and we’re on good terms with them all. If I was jammed up somewhere and couldn’t pick up Mouse, I know there are several people I could call who would happily help (and I’ve done so for a fellow parent before too).That said, I was absolutely scared to *death* the first day–I was worried about Mouse’s transition, our first time packing lunches, whether it really would be a community we’d be comfortable in…all this stuff. After drop-off, a couple of parents were talking outside and one just said “hi, welcome, I’m P and this is M. Our kids are E and T for me and R for her. What’s your daughter’s name?” …on to ages and how they’ve liked the school and why we picked it…and lo, a conversation was born. So I try to do the same when somebody’s new, and I’ve taken over maintaining the parent email list, which is something I can do on my schedule. The local custom is “everybody” bday parties, so that helps, and the school also has a pumpkin carving event in the fall that gets everybody together.
    The one thing I find awkward sometimes is just that my schedule is different from the SAH parents in the group, so sometimes it’s hard to reciprocate playdates properly–they will offer to pick Mouse up at 3 and take her home with their kid, but then I can only reciprocate on weekends, which doesn’t work for everybody. That’s another nice thing, actually–drop off playdates! You don’t have to date the parents to have the kids be friends. That starts at 3 1/2 or 4, I’d say.
    Anyway, it is scary (I was literally shaking making lunch the first day) but now I had to dredge this up from distant memory–if you’re at a compatible school, it will work out.
    Good luck!

  40. I always forget to ask: What’s YMMV?I have horrible Other Mom Anxiety. In addition to regular social anxiety stuff, being a single mom (at least in this area) makes it a lot worse. I have found NO other single parents of small children, and while I didn’t start out feeling that much of an anomaly, now I’m self conscious.

  41. Thanks Moxie and everybody for taking the time to share your experiences, wisdom and support. Now I feel like I have more than a scared plastered-on smile and sweaty palms to offer on our big day next week. I’ve got Moxie, bitch.(Did I just write that out loud?)Yep, I can do this.
    *Christy

  42. @ACJ – you are giving me flashbacks to our calm quiet little playgroup that had been meeting since the babes were 4 months old, and who were now toddling around… when my son became The First Biter and bit his friend enough to leave a perfect impression of his teeth in his arm.Argh.
    Anyways my solution was that I called that night “to see how L. was” and just check in. It went fine. The fact that I did something at the time (leap up and deal) was more important than that I did the right thing, if you know what I mean.
    Couple of months later L. whacked my son in the nose with a truck, anyways.
    If a particular mother can’t handle the angst of working these things out, she’s probably going to be too high-maintenance anyway. I’m not saying it’s not hard; just that a willingness to work it out with an understanding that we’re all different, good-natured people, is key.
    Re: icebreakers. Okay I keep posting like I’m an expert and I’m not really expect I was involved in a massive moms group that became little groups and stuff. But anyways here’s what’s worked for that group:
    – “email: hey person/everyone, just wanted to let you know that we are planning to go to the zoo/beach/museum/strawberry picking on date at time. If you want to come along let me know!”
    – “email again: anyone else having a day of doom? I am going to be at the Chapters/Starbucks after nap, so around 3 pm, near the train table. Anyone up for coffee?”
    – “after daycare: we swim most Saturdays at about 10 am… if you ever want to join up, give me a shout between 9 and 9:30, here’s my number.”

  43. We have ended up hosting LOTS of stuff over the past year with families from my daughter’s school, scout troop, and teams because I am always inviting people for things– a book group, a play date, a “lets all bring meat from the freezer on Friday to my house and see what my husband can make of it” potluck. At first, people came, and it was nice, but there wasn’t much reciprocating. I almost gave up, but gradually it did turn around. Now I have some mom friends I can call for advice, ask favors (today’s: I forgot to send 10 pennies to school! One of the other moms had 10 pennies and yet another had an old baggie in her car and we were set– I was glad I felt comfortable enough to ask the silly favor.) And now EVERYONE brings something when they come over so the hosting is less burdensome. Its easy to make friends at work or college where you are thrown together in a situation requiring that you see each other daily and face problems together. This other stuff is much harder.

  44. @Maria Wood,YMMV: Your Mileage May Vary
    good luck Christy!
    and I like the commune idea, whatever happened to that map thingy that showed where we all are?
    Bean went to preschool today (small inhome, max 6 kids days he’s there) totally waved me off the minute he got there. too excited & didn’t eat b’fast, didn’t like snack and ate a fair amount of lunch despite being “distracted by the all the toys” as he put it. me, I was messy. who am I w/o my sidekick? hung out w/an aquaintance who feels like an old friend. time will tell.
    thanks for this conversation, esp the part about ‘rejection’ maybe not being personal. good to hear again & again.

  45. What emily said about having moved somewhere completely new during the new-parent stage of life – totally, only that’s me right now. i was so lonely today that when rudyinparis gave me & Slim that sweet shout out upthread i actually got teary-eyed! i wish one of those mommy strangers passing me by (out here on the dusty trails of chelan-douglas county…anyone?) was one of you, too.and i’m also a proud member of the ‘banana head group’!! the home office on pg 32 of the sept issue rocks my dreams – never gonna happen, but i can dream my dorky dreams, can’t i?

  46. I haven’t read all of the other comments so I’m sorry if something similar has been said or this is really “off thread”.I definitely think the transition to spending time with other parents at school to “taking it off site” can be really intimidating, but try not to think of it that way.
    When I was pregnant we took a birth class with a number of other couples. When my daughter was 5 months old one of the other new moms e-mailed me to say that she had always enjoyed interacting with me in class and if I’d ever like to get together I should give her a call. It was a nice casual e-mail and I found it really flattering.
    So when you want to invite another mom or dad to go for coffee or take a walk with the kids don’t get cold feet. Think of it from their point of view and try to just go for it.

  47. I am totally going to invite all the other preschool parents over to our house for a little get-to-know-you cocktail gathering at the end of the month. This post has inspired me!

  48. I love all the suggestions. This is our second year at preschool, but all of my daughter’s friends signed up for a morning class, while we stayed in the afternoons, so I’m totally stressed about the new moms. Last year, two of the mothers really took on organizing activities outside of class, which was nice for the moms and the kids. I’d love to be the kind of person who did that, but I just don’t think I have it in me right now, what with the 10 month old getting into everything and trying to sell our house/buy a new one. Of course, if I’m being honest, I probably wouldn’t have it in me even if I didn’t have other stuff going on.

  49. “mostly i think all of us feel like we’re balancing packing lunches and working and making dinner and laundry and sex and project runway and obama and everything else in a precarious horrifyingly scary tower.”heh. Yeah. marsupial jones, are you spying on my life?
    As to the original question, on the reassuring side, I’d add–give it time. Friendships will develop organically, probably when you least expect it, with whom you least expect, when you aren’t stressing about it. But it takes a while because you get the contacts in dribs and drabs during dropoffs and pickups.
    Less reassuringly, IME, I’m feeling deja vu with high school: I’m once again friendly with everyone but deeply connected with no one. I cross the cliques–but why are there cliques in daycare?! (My kid’s been there since 6 mos and is now 21 mos). Why are parents referring to my kid joining their kid’s supposed “cool kids” group. Ummm, cool? They’re still incontinent.
    But I stay neutral and pleasant and the folks I gibe with become apparent and I spend a little more time with them at birthday parties and volunteer hours. Playdates are in the offing. It will be fine. You will see.

  50. Icebreaker Ideas–asking for help/ advice: if most extroverted types are anything like me, they LOVE to give advice!
    if you think the mom is a WOH, ask what she does and then how she got into it. The how she got into it question is the really good one.
    Some questions I’ve been asked that led to great conversations-
    “Where did you get that belt/ bag/ lipstick?”
    “This is a crazy question– but does your daughter take ballet/ horseback riding/ piano– I’m trying to find a class”
    “I heard that you guys just got back from Disney/ the beach/etc” (Clue: Disney vacations are a guaranteed 30 minute conversation starter.)
    I have NEVER thought someone weird who came up to me out of the blue while at an activity pick up or at school or a birthday party and asked me something random like that.

  51. So last night at the back-to-school night for 1st grade, I spied another mom who looked nervous and was asking ‘ohmygodwillmychildsurvive’ questions. I felt for her, her child and my child both did not attend this school for K, so they’re both coming in fresh, I though ‘okay, she’s my pick, I’ll talk to her’ and then someone else spotted ME, cornered ME as someone they were going to get to know, and I looked around at the end of that and the other mom was gone.Crud. BUT, having been so inspired by y’all, I’m going to email the teacher and ask her if she will send my email to the other mom as a reassurance connection.

  52. oh hush, i think i love you! i totally had that page dog-eared! also never going to happen, but a girl can dream, right??banana head group open house/happy hour/cocktail party…mmmm…

  53. @marsupial jones:>for example, i cannot be friends with someone whose kid has been sleeping through the night since 6 weeks. my kid is 15 months old and is still up 3 times a night usually.< Want to start a club? I'll come be a charter member. And I'm also one of those 'too busy triaging (at least mentally) to do more than chat in the hallway' types. I'd be very happy to make more Mom friends, but arranging to get together with the ones I've brought forward from our single days is hard enough around school schedules, my work, family time, errands, . . . I wonder if sleeping through would help any. 🙂

  54. (can I admit I try to studiously ignore those magazines because I know I’d be hooked? I’d be an addict on the first try. Instead we get ones that kind of work as professional resources for ep (architecture), like Dwell. My clean-lines modernist no clutter sure-my-furniture-can-be-white fantasies reside there…)

  55. 17 years ago this week (?) I was new in town, with a toddler and an infant, and I went to a playgroup sponsored by the university. It was pretty ghastly – too many kids running around and trampling the little ones and a huge din, but one nice lady with children a little older than mine approached me and invited me to her house for lunch!!!! I was flabbergasted, but I got up the courage to go. It turns out, that’s just the way she is, and she helped integrate me into the social scene wrt babysitting coops and other things like that.I’ve tried to be that way for other people in as much as I can, but some of it is a personality thing. Still, if you can, do!

  56. FACEBOOK! If you aren’t already on, get there! And then every so often, search for the parents you know from school. It’s a lot easier to send a casual “hey, what do you think of the new lady in room 7?” email to strike up a conversation than it is to make small talk when you are all running for the door. Let technology work for you!

  57. I only have a few minutes and haven’t read all the comments, but I just want to encourage this mom not to be intimidated–in my experience, making friends with other parents is much easier than any other kind of friend-making, because it’s a time in life when everyone needs to make new friends and you all have something major in common. I think you’ll find that most people are really friendly.

  58. Okay, I know this is old news, but I just wanted to comment in case someone ever comes back to read it. First, I’m not even a parent yet, but I definitely have this adult-onset social anxiety thing caused by years of growing up with the in-crowd (think: “Mean Girls” movie), then actually growing up, subsequently growing fatter, and losing my social self esteem because I know what those “mean girls” are thinking about me.So. I can only imagine what it’s going to be like when hypothetical children start having playdates and preschool and all that. I am *not* a social butterfly…but I can say this. I recently joined a gym and have been forcing myself to go to some of the group exercise classes to break up my elliptical monotony…and the first night, I was surrounded by all types of women…fat, skinny, young, middle-aged, ballerinas, clutzes, whatever. Yet here I was, scared shitless to even talk to them. And then…THEN…a couple of the “pretty” ones just started talking to me out of the blue, LIKE I WAS ONE OF THEM. And then it dawned on me…I AM one of them. Just a normal, 20-something female workin’ on my fitness at the gym. Yeah, I’m still a bit overweight, but so were half of them, and who really cares. I had an epiphany that night, and I’ve realized that if I can get over myself, I’ll be just fine. 🙂
    Besides, once you have kids, it should give you an instant conversation starter…i.e., “Don’t you just love this age?”

  59. I’m reading all of the comments – which are great and help me realize I don’t have the only two-year old boy with a Viking complex – I have already started incorporating these ideas and the hitting is declining – whether that is me or because he is getting older who knows.However, what do I do about daycare? There the concepts are – hit or push and he gets a time out and is written up if it is hard hitting/pushing or if it is the 2nd time that day. I don’t know what to do about the behavior there. I can’t punish him after school – for a 2 1/2 year old he doesn’t understand why or for what I’m punishing him 3 hours later. Many times he hits just because, but he often hits in retaliation for hitting or a toy being taken.
    We are at a new daycare because when he had just turned 2 (he is significantly taller, bigger and more physically advanced then other 2-year-olds) I had a teacher tell me that my child has a disorder because he hit when kids took his toys or pushed when they didn’t move out of his way. I went and talked to a professional who informed me that often it was out of boredom and frustration that he reacted that way – particularly since he did not react that way anywhere but daycare. He is a very social child and does not hit/push anywhere except daycare. He has hit me 1 time when he was 2 because I told him no and he reacted strongly. The teacher saw this and declared that any child that would hit a parent like that had to have a problem.
    I’m really frustrated with how to stop the hitting/pushing at daycare when I’m not around to perform any of the items that are working for him. The conferences are not very productive. HELP!

  60. everyone looked surprised, they thought Cheap Air Jordans Man spotted belly 100,000 troops on the mountain, want to get 100,000 troops to achieve this goal, in the chaotic? Li a place on the planet, but, Wang Cheap Air Jordans ‘s require large out they were expecting. Cheap Air Jordans secretly smile, in fact, anxious to get these thousands of troops, and determined to win, but, with their understanding of the nature of some difference in terminology, in the final analysis, all aimed , requires that they willingly, not under the agreement in force. the crowd because Cheap Air Jordans does not show the strength of the people immediately believe the contrary, their eyes reveal the suspect is not difficult to imagine that there is not that a slave state, but the entire ? Li planet, nor is it an era, but for generations to come, because they experienced the pain of being a slave, the heart is extremely annoying that they are slaves, hate what they become slaves and aristocrats, like the wild days Sen positions so that the liberation of slaves in the Mountain Man belly is already very great, but they never thought to liberate all the slaves, Heaven has hundreds of thousands of troops were able to use Belly Man into fierce mountain terrain to reach the dragon the two countries do nothing, but he would not dare to attack a nearby town, and their shortage of troops, not to mention a country, of course, the whole? Li slaves on the planet that is more impossible, and would like to have not thought about. Cheap Air Jordans said management is now the world’s slaves, they understand what it means, that is, all countries with the world and against the nobility, on their belly Mountain Man this force, attack a town is hard, even as the capture of a town but also how, can be indifferent watching those noble slaves occupied the city, looked at them helplessly, of course, impossible, would discredit, this is all noble things, not that a state of things. easing their stress, wild days of storage Sen said: impressive, however

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