Should children do chores?

Written by Andrea Zanin

Mummy-No-Mates

Motherhood can be pretty full on. From teething and tantrums to school bullying and homework struggles, sometimes it feels like there’s a never ending list of problems just waiting to be solved. Thankfully we’re all in the same boat. And meeting up with other mums to chat about our worries and parenting fails is a great way of working through our problems. It’s beneficial to our mental health and wellbeing too. But sadly not all of us are lucky enough to have parenting allies. Perhaps you work full time so miss dropping off and pick up time, making it harder to meet other mums at the school gates, or maybe you’re new to the area and are finding it difficult to make new friends.

That’s what happened to me when we moved house a few years ago. I’d been so worried that my daughter wouldn’t make new friends at nursery, I hadn’t even considered that it might be tricky for me to meet new people my own age. Putting myself out there to make new friends seemed like a scary prospect, but it was completely worth it. With a little bit of faith and courage, I found some lovely mummy mates to share my highs and lows with. 

Be Open
When our children make new friends, they just run right over with a big smile and introduce themselves to their new prospective playmate. As we get older, many of us forget this skill and find it embarrassing or awkward to speak to new people. But to make new friends we’ve got to be open to meeting new people, otherwise how are other parents supposed to know that you’re a nice fun person, dying for a bit of adult conversation? When you’re out at the park or at the school gates smiling and making eye contact with people and show them that you’re friendly. Make a comment about the weather or chat about what you watched on TV last night – anything to get the conversation going. You’ll be amazed at how friendly people will be, once you make the first move. 

Go Social
We often joke that our children have better social lives than us, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The role of being a parent comes with plenty of social opportunities - from maternity groups and parent and child classes, to school fundraisers and birthday parties. It really doesn’t matter what the event is, the important thing is to get out there and meet new people. Because lets fact it, you’re never going to make new friends sitting at home. Parenting events are the perfect place to meet new people as you are all gathered together for a common purpose. Strike up a conversation with the person next to you by asking a question about their son or daughter and before you know it, the conversation will be in full flow.

Technology
In days gone by meeting new people and getting to know other mums was tricky if you didn’t see them every day. But thanks to the likes of parenting forums such as Mumsnet and social media platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp, we now have loads of opportunity to make new friends online. Look out for Facebook school and nursery groups that have been set up by other parents or create your own. These groups are great for connecting with other parents away from the school gates. By joining in you can get to know some of the mums virtually online before you take the plunge and ask them if they’d like to get together. Once you’ve exchanged messages a few times why not suggest that you all get together for a coffee one afternoon as a group, or plan a fundraising event for the school. Most mums will jump at the chance of a bit of a child free time and some adult conversation. 

Another way of connecting is through new social platform Classlist ( ww.schoolclasslist.com), the world’s first virtual school gate which offers parents a secure way of getting to know each other online. The site is a great way for parents to arrange get togethers, especially for shyer mums who might find it a bit awkward to suggest a meet up, face to face. 

Playdates 
One of the easiest ways to make new friends is through your child’s own friends at playgroup, nursery or school. Make a point of chatting to your child’s friend’s mum at drop-off or pick-up and mention how much your children enjoy playing together and ask if they’d like to bring them over sometime for a coffee and a playdate. Because you already have your children in common, you should have plenty to talk about and you might even manage to have a coffee in peace while your children play. For parents who miss the school and nursery run, try leaving a note for the other parent in their child’s nursery tray or school bag and invite them over that way instead. 

From acquaintance to firm friend 
Making that leap from being casual school gate acquaintance to firm friends can seem tricky, but the only thing that you need to make that jump is a little bit of confidence. Invite your new chum to be Facebook friends or be bold and ask to swap numbers. Once you’re in regular contact with each other, meeting up and getting to know each other better, will come naturally. But if things don’t work out with the first mum you meet, don’t be disheartened. There are plenty of mummy friends in the sea! Finding a chum who will listen to your parenting war stories and makes you giggle on stressful days is definitely worth searching for. So stay open, be friendly and you never know, the next person you meet in the park, might just end up being your new mummy BFF. 

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