All across the UK, lunches are being packed, laces are being tied, and kids begin the morning commute to school. However, according to an article in Psychologies magazine this month, it's not the kids that are nervous about school: it's the mothers.
Turning up at the school gates, some mothers encounter resistance and bitchiness from the other mothers. Many playgrounds are split between the 'Working Mums' and the 'Stay At Home Mums', with little integration between them.
It can be even more lonely if you don't feel you fit into either group, especially for the fathers who may also do the school run.
Rumour spreading, back stabbing, and social exclusion are all behaviours common in a school with playground politics.These bullying tactics don't just effect the mothers and fathers. The effects can be felt by the children too, especially as it can take a toll on their popularity. The article referred to stories of children who have not been invited to the birthday party of their best friend as their mother was not included in that particular friendship group.
Rivalry can also occur in school activities such as the school fair and end of year show. Mothers may become competitive, wanting to either have a larger part in the proceedings themselves, or to push their child forward for a larger part.
One mother in the article became the victim of a smear campaign started by another mother after a school fun day: "[She] sent an email announcing to all the mums that the fun day was poorly organised, and outlined how one particular job (mine) hasn't been done until the last minute."
The article suggests that joining the PTA is one of the best ways to combat playground politics as it can encourage you to mix more with the other mums, and get to know them better on an adult level. It's also encourages you to have a larger friendship group, which is beneficial as relying on one or two people can allow clique ringleaders to manipulate fears of isolation.
What are your experiences in the playground? Have you ever been the victim of playground politics?