18/11/2009 20:47 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Ask Joanne - How Do I Make Friends With The School Run Mums?

What's your question about life as a mum or dad? Our experienced life coach Joanne Mallon is here to help. Send in your question to this address and say if you'd like your name changed.

Alice asks:

I've just moved to a new town, and my daughter who's 4 has just started school. I sort of imagined that this would be a good way for us both to meet people and make friends. My daughter is making plenty of friends - it's me who's having problems!

All the other mums on the school run seem to know each other already and stand in little cliques by the school gate. I just don't know how to make conversation. I've tried a few times and it's all been a bit awkward. I had half thought about organising a night out, but I'm not sure where to start, and what if no one came?

Here's our life coach's reply

Dear Alice

Adult friendships aren't as immediate as children's, so it may take some time, and a few stilted conversations, before you hit on the people you click with. Please don't define the other mothers as a "clique". That way, you are already casting yourself as the outsider.

I agree with you that the first year that your child is at school can be a great time to make new friends. And a night out to get to know each other is a great idea: right now you have the excuse of making it a Christmas night out. Having organised lots of class socials, this is how I would do it:

  • Seek out the class rep, if there is one, and suggest a night out. Offer to organise it yourself if she doesn't seem keen (don't worry, it's pretty easy).
  • Choose a night, say around two weeks away, that suits you. Don't faff about trying to find a night that suits everyone, because there won't be one. For some reason Tuesdays always worked well for us - it's one of those nights that people seem less likely to have other commitments.
  • Keep it simple. A local pub with a big table is ideal, no hire costs and people can pay for their own drinks.
  • Print out a note giving date and time. Put one in each of the children's bookbags (your class teacher may be happy to do this when they're giving out notes from school).
  • Give around two weeks' notice. There will always be people who can't make it or get a babysitter, but equally there will always be people who want to get to know other parents. I think Reception/Primary One parents tend to be keenest for this sort of thing as they're so new to the school system. You will never have an easier opportunity than this to get to know people, so go for it.
  • Follow up face to face This is really important, because there will be many people who are slightly shy of a night out with strangers, or who will forget that it's happening. And this is your perfect opener into talking to others - don't worry about the actual event, organising it is the catalyst to help you get to know the people in your school community.

Good luck and have a great time

best wishes


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