When a clique isn’t really a clique….

Today’s guest post is from Cass who writes the hugely successful (and great to read) blog The Diary of a Frugal Family. She writes about her experiences of cliques. Does her story sound familiar?

I’ve always thought that cliques existed in most areas of society – I guess it’s natural really that like minded people gravitate to each other, close friendships are formed and it’s difficult for outsiders to break in to the group once that’s happened.

But why is it difficult to break into an established clique, is it because the people in them don’t want to involve others?  Is it because they want their little gang to be the ‘in gang’ that everyone else is jealous of?  Or is it simply that people looking in perceive the group to be impenetrable and therefore, don’t bother to try and make friends.

I always thought it was the first two reasons but lately I’m not so sure after a recent experience with the school mum’s ‘clique’.

When my children started nursery, I worked full time so either my child minder or their Grandma used to take them and collect them afterwards which meant that I didn’t really get to know the other mums very much.  By the time I changed my hours at work and was able to drop the kids off and collect them again, all of the other mums had formed their own little groups and even though I wanted to, I didn’t make any effort to be a part of any of these groups.  I think I was intimidated and a bit scared if I’m honest, I’m a worrier and I always worry whether people like me or not.

Don’t get me wrong I’ve spoken to the other mums and both children always have plenty of play dates (is that what they’re called?) with their friends but by and large, at the end of the school day, my position in the school playground is usually at the back of the crowd away from the groups of mums – usually pretending to do something with my mobile so I don’t look pathetic all on my own.

Anyway, after the Mad Blog Awards last weekend where I met some gorgeously lovely bloggers who couldn’t have been nicer to me, despite my shyness and my annoying cough (since diagnosed as a chest infection) I decided that enough was enough.  If I could go all the way to London to meet people I have only ever spoken to on Twitter before then I was pretty sure I could ‘infiltrate’ one of the school mum cliques.

So off I went to school on Monday afternoon to collect the kids and instead of taking up my usual position at the back of the playground, I marched (well, edged is probably a more appropriate description) up to the front and stood right next to one of the little groups.  I thought about it for a bit, then took another step towards them and asked one of them a question, I can’t even remember what it was now but the mum answered me and another one of the group joined in.  Someone then asked me a question about something else and by the time the kids came out, we were chatting away.

By the end of the week, I feel comfortable in walking straight over to them and joining in whatever conversation going on at the time, they’re genuinely friendly to me and I feel accepted.  Except now, I don’t look at them as a clique, they’re just a group of women picking their children up from school – just like me.

I guess the point to this story is that it’s up to you to make an effort to get more involved and to befriend people.  If you don’t you could be the lonely one stood at the back of the playground but if you do, you could be the one who is going to a girly night this week at one of your new friends houses ;-).


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  1. I completely agree with this, I am also quite shy of these groups of women and have found by being brave I am welcomed. It’s lovely to have a chat and the main thing to remember that many of them have felt the same way at some point.

  2. You see I would say this was a clique. Membership requirements are that your children go to this school… (and that you have children!) but as you say it is just a “group” of friends with similar needs and it makes everyone feel small until they join in!

  3. Stepping out of your comfort zone is hard but can be rewarding, so well done Cass for doing it! Sounds like you got a nice bunch after all, though there are definitely cliques at school gates too, same as anywhere! I know ‘if you don’t go to the party, you don’t get a balloon,’ then again, over the years I’ve become more fussy about which balloons I truly want!
    Really enjoyed this article – will look in more often!

    Jane x

  4. As a stay at home Mum I’m able to join PTFA, attend coffee mornings etc so maybe I’m part of a ‘clique’ – this is what I may look like to others, but actually we’re just chatting about what we’re upto. I got involved in different groups to get to know other Mums & I’ve now got some amazing friends. We try to include others but my advice is just go for it – we don’t bite! Honest!

  5. Completely agree. I am part of an alleged playgroup clique which has put off some mums from trying the playgroup, but how do they think I became part of the clique? I wasn’t allocated a place in the group at birth. I made the effort to talk to people and to join in. We are a clique, but not inaccessible.
    Well done Cass. nice post.

  6. It’s so true. It is lovely when someone in a group makes the effort to include someone who is standing alone but they are probably as wary as you are – what if they don’t want to talk, are busy on the phone, etc…? Very few groups of mums are exclusive if you make the effort. And I should know, I had to make friends with parents who are young enough to be my children.

  7. Mmm… this is a good post, and I’m glad you managed to get chatting to the school mums. I think many of us have different opinions and experiences, some not all positive. (watch out for the competitive clique!) 🙂
    Good luck with it and thanks for sharing!

  8. Completely agree with this. I’m always looking on in the direction of all the mums who know each other already and always feel slightly uncomfortable. I know I should ‘edge’ forward but my brain is so programmed to ‘what ifs’ that i find it difficult. Been slightly more inspired however so will see what happens tomorrow!

  9. What a great post! I think it’ll really help other mums and dads who feel intimidated by ‘cliques’ to go over and join in!

    As a nanny I often felt there was a nanny/parent divide so started a coffee morning to get both groups together. It was great! Sadly some of the mums wouldn’t come along and had their own coffee mornings to which we were never invited. Sad really!

    Now as a mum I always welcome any new face at the groups I attend or invite them to my coffee mornings and art club. It’s so important for everyone to feel welcome but also feel they don’t have to.

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