My strategy on how to make friends with the use of your children.
We recently just moved house, but I’m not talking about a few streets away – we’ve moved from London to Warwickshire.
I know, OUTSIDE OF THE M25.
To a whole new county where we don’t know a sausage.
I mean, do they even have the internet there?
Listen to me though! I’m making out that this was a decision I hadn’t fully bought into, which is a load of rubbish.
I am buzzing for this change. My family are closer, life is more chilled, houses are bigger than a postage stamp, education options are better, and generally it’s just a better place to raise a family.
Don’t get me wrong, I love London and have been happy to call it my home for a long time, but now that I have a child, I have put my sensible Mummy hat on and just have different priorities now.
It’s time to smash up our house to build the dream home, make friends and ingratiate ourselves with the village (pub), and find out what’s going on in the local area.
One thing I have learned over the last 2o months is that if you have a baby or toddler, the chances of you going out and making it back home again without engaging in some sort of conversation with a total and random stranger is slim to none.
Basically, small children attract other small children or old people.
So if like me, you’d like to make friends with people, using your child as bait is the way forward.
If you still need a bit more guidance though, here’s my strategy for how to make friends through your children.
- Lay the bait – Find out where the local Mum and baby or toddler groups are, turn up and release your hunter (child). Before long, there will undoubtedly be either an altercation over a sit on car or toy baby buggy, the swapping or sippy cups with another child, or some random hugging that you’ll need to intervene with. If the other parent also looks a bit guilty about tears / exchange saliva, or smiles at the shared affection, you have an in road. Use it as the way to effectively ‘chat them up’.
- Look a bit desperate – If you turn up looking all confident and self-sufficient, everyone will think you are either arrogant, a smug cow or immediately decide they hate you (yeah, us women do that). If you mention that you are new to the area and look a bit lost as to where to sit, park your buggy, or find the all important tea and biccies, chances are, someone will take pity on you and chat to you. This is another in road.
- Pick their brains – Once you are chatting, ask questions about EVERYTHING (even if you don’t really care about the answer). Ask about nurseries, farms, soft play centres, clinics, schools, playgroups and parks etc. The more you can glean from someone, the better the chance that they might ask you along too, or at least see you there. You can even ask about their birth stories if you can stomach it. Bleurgh.
- Don’t be shy with your digits – No, I am not suggesting you start wandering around with your middle finger in the air, I am of course talking about your telephone number. Ask to take their telephone number and suggest you meet up some time, or if you think that’s a bit too pushy, offer yours and mention you’d like to find out about other events they might go to.
- Try stuff – Set some time aside in your diary to try loads of things in different areas. 9 times out of 10, it’s the same people at the same groups, but if you’re not meeting people you click with at snobby baby massage, or you’d rather eat your own head than invite Tarquin and his irritating mother back to your house, check out the free ones such as library groups or parks – there may be a more friendly crowd. Just try anything and everything!
- Know your audience – If you arrive at a baby group and are immediately confronted by little groups of pre-formed cliquey women, all clutching their designer babies closely and looking at you as if you’ve just been sicked up by the cat, just don’t bother. They are most likely going to talk about people or places they went to last week, or as I once experienced, move slightly away so that when they sat on the next table for lunch, I wouldn’t need to be included. Yeah, thanks for that – WE’RE OFF TO NANDOS WITH OUR REAL FRIENDS.
In conclusion, the same way you would as if you were going on the pull (remember those times?), if you want to make friends with other people with kids, you can’t be afraid to pimp yourself for play dates. You need to forget all of the thoughts around looking needy that you might once have had before you were a parent, and know that anyone who is kind and worth being friends with has probably been in your position at some point, and understands that we all need friends to get through this parenting business!