I have three children in primary school, one after another from juniors up. The school is great and the kids are very happy there, but my oldest is really the only one who has had a consistent year in school before COVID-19.
Although I am from the area, I have been away much of my adult life and I still work in the city so can be away a couple of nights a week too.
Anyway, my issue is the other mothers. They are always chatting at the gates leisurely while I am practically throwing my kids out of a moving car to get to work as with school times, you will always be late for work.
I really feel out of the loop with no one to ask questions of about the school or the teachers and I am concerned
I know that there are probably WhatsApp groups and my friends who have kids in other schools laugh at me when I point out I am not in one, saying I am blessed and I don’t need that in my life. But, I really feel out of the loop with no one to ask questions of about the school or the teachers and I am concerned that by not being “in the loop” my children will suffer.
I am conscious that I don’t dedicate enough time to my long-term friendships as it is
Please don’t suggest asking someone to go for coffee as I have loads of friends and with my job and kids and the house, I am conscious that I don’t dedicate enough time to my long-term friendships as it is. Please help.
Mother of three, Cork
Dear Mother of three,
Thanks for your email. I know that sometimes those WhatsApp groups get bad press – hence your friends’ comments that you are better off out of them – but of course, they are also very useful in keeping up to date with what is happening in school and as you say, to ask certain questions.
I’m not going to advise you to start loitering around the school gates! But maybe there is a more direct approach.
For example, your eldest child who has had the most consistent time in school, do they have a best friend in their class and if so, would you be happy to call their mother/father and ask if there is a WhatsApp group and if it’s possible to be added in? You could just explain that with work times, it’s very difficult to get the opportunity to stay and chat in the mornings, but you would love to stay connected in that way.
I think a direct approach is best
If that isn’t feasible, maybe there might be a day that you are not working where you would be able to stop at the school gates, introduce yourself to the other parents (if you recognise their kids from your children’s classes) and ask if there is a WhatsApp group and could you be added.
I know that means putting yourself out there a bit and it might feel awkward, but to be honest, I think a direct approach is best if you want to be added to the group without going down the coffee morning route etc. What’s the worst that can happen anyway?
Another aspect to this, though, is how come the onus of participating in the school WhatsApp groups seems to fall on the mothers? I remember listening to a radio item last year asking why the dads were not typically involved, and why this should be the case in this day and age. Is your partner friends with any of the parents in the school and if so, could he ask to join the group, or at least make the introduction on your behalf? It just might be another route to consider.
As long as the children are happy and getting on well, is there a need to know the ins and outs of every aspect of school life?
If none of these options feel like appropriate, however, maybe it is worth listening to your friends’ take on the WhatsApp groups. As long as the children are happy and getting on well, is there a need to know the ins and outs of every aspect of school life? You can decide that.
If any reader would like to share their advice on this matter, I’d be happy to publish it. Wishing you the best of luck.