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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Politics in the Playground: Which Mum Are You?

On Monday, British blog A Modern Mother (link here) posted a humorous piece on playground politics. I was immediately intrigued. I've often thought about this very subject, and I've had discussions before with other mums about it.

Often, being a mother at your child's school can feel a bit like being in high school again. You have to find your 'place' and the word "cliques" has been thrown around more than once. (Although, I tend to think that a bunch of mums just kind of find each other and stick together because of similar interests etc. It's usually not intentional to exclude others. But that's just my thought on it.)

Some mums will get in and get their hands dirty at school. Often. Some wouldn't be caught dead getting involved with anything beyond school drop-off and pick-up. (One friend of mine once said she had absolutely zero interest in meetings and working on fundraising committees. She's happy to put in her obligatory time for school events if need be, on occasion and when it suits her, but has no further interest beyond that.) Some will taken on multiple roles at school. Some of those mums will cope well, some will not. It's like I always say: there's always a trade-off somewhere.

But usually there are what I would call "Mum Types". Here's what A Modern Mother wrote about the different parents you find in the school playground:

The Bulldozer Mum -- when she volunteers to run an activity -- just stay out of her way! She will hold lots of meetings (at your home with your tea and biscuits), pretend to listen to your suggestions and then just do whatever she wants. You're really just there for moral support.

The Keen Mum -- With her first child of many starting the system, this mum is new to the school and her main goal is figuring out how things work. After four years of having a child velcroed to her hip, she wants to know what the heck Johnny is doing all day in that hallowed building. She attends every school function, is the class rep, does lunch duty, and is navigating her way around the PTA. Amazing as she has two little ones at home.

The-Over-Did-It-Mum -- Probably started out as a Keen Mum, and now that her children are in upper juniors, she wants to take some time off from school activities and let some of the other mums pull their weight (this is me, BTW).

The Out-of-Catchment Mum -- Keen to prove her worthiness of a coveted spot at school, the out-of-catchment mum is often on over drive. You can spot her at every school meeting, usually talking with the Head Teacher.

The Working Mum-- Not wanting to miss out, the working mum often volunteers for mundane events even though she barely has time to keep the fridge full of ham and yoghurts for packed lunches, let alone source and wear a pumpkin outfit and pass out sweets at the school Goulish disco!

The PTA Mum-- This mum is truly a domestic goddess, turning out baked goods as readily as counting to ten. She is full of fab ideas on how balance fund raising with fun activities for the kiddies. She always has a smile on her face and the latest Boden coat.

The School Governor Mum-- has moved on from PTA mum to more important matters, like trying to understand and improve an archaic, bureaucratic school system. All you can do is wish her luck.

The Class Rep-- spends most of her time with a clipboard chasing down mums and pleading with them to volunteer for school functions. In fear of this, most of the other mums either run when they see her or avoid eye contact.

The Now-You-See-Me-Now-You-Don't Mum -- Often a working mum (but not necessarily), this mum only turns up at high-profile school functions, is highly vocal about school policies, and then disappears for months on end.

The Token Dad -- Either a stay-at-home-dad, "in between jobs", or just filling in because mum is elsewhere ... the Token Dad adds a bit of variety to the school gate. They make a point of saying hello to the other males (even if they don't know them) and provide a bit of fun for the mums by giving us something to talk about.

So, which mum are you? Or if you're not a mum yet, which one do you think you might be? And do you know any mums like the ones described above? Comments welcome!

Personally, I'm having trouble picking from this list. I guess I'm kind of like a an Out-of-Catchment mum, because I'm at all the P&F meetings and will talk to the teachers and principal. But I'm certainly not 'trying to prove' my 'worthiness'. I'm just nosy and want to know what's goin' on!

To view the full post from A Modern Mother click here.

Until next time...


Ami said...

Love this post! I was chatting to friend a couple of days ago who had organised a play date for her son with a friend from his pre-school, and she felt like her and the other mum were kind of auditioning each other! Must be so hard to find your feet with the other mum's!

Now on the Mum Types - I think that I would be a non over the top "Keen Mum"!! I'd be interested enough to get involved, but wouldn't like to take over! But ask me again in 6 or 7 years!

Nomie said...

Love it! Well, I'm a combination of -working mum, PTA mum and School governor mum... also known as tired, over worked, and on a bloody mission to better the school my kids go to!
Hubby is kinda a token dad, as he works from home and does school runs when I'm at work... now, I must go prepare for that finance sub committee meeting that's on later today.

Liz.. said...

i'd like to be a PTA mum :)