Do you have what it takes?
Are you the new mom trying to get your kid in a play group? Or are you an established mom who has the power to invite others in?
After years of experience working with stay-at-home moms, I've watched Queen Bees organize play groups, oust others, and decline new mommies in need of companionship. I realized just how political and competitive play-date groups are.
If you want to get in and stay in, you'll need to strategize.
Here are six things to keep in mind if you want to play the playgroup game well:
1. Identify the Queen Bee.
You need to find the alpha of the group and understand her position of power. Genuinely get to know her by asking her questions and being a good listener. Identify the qualities that you both have in common immediately.
Make the connection and exchange numbers. Text 48 hours after the exchange (within 24 hours makes you look desperate and too eager, while after 72 hours, you're already forgotten). You are courting the Queen.
2. Make your alliances.
Once you're in, begin to align yourself with others in the group. But continue your efforts on the Queen. Others WILL be jealous and skeptical of your new entry into the "group."
Now focus on the children. Align your child with other children within in the group that you feel would be good matches for your child.
3. Less talking, more listening.
Smile, ask questions and continue listening to others. Talk less and listen more with everyone.
4. Become the host.
Host a group — but be casual. Don't do anything over the top that they'll consider "flaunting." Show off your natural talents or interests.
If you love to bake then bake — but if you're not the next Martha Stewart, there's no need to pretend. You want your guests to feel welcomed, and not off-put by a showy experience.
5. If they don't take the bait ...
If you get ousted, uninvited or they conveniently forget your invitation for whatever reason, let it go. You could lose a lot of sleep and shed tears over trying to figure out why, who made this decision and what you could do to get back in.
Don't bother because whether it's you or your kid, clearly this isn't the group for either of you and you should simply move on.
6. If you're done and want out ...
Leave. Go ahead. But brace yourself.
You may keep one mom on your side, but this is like quitting a sorority. Moms will feel rejected — don't expect them to get over it too easily.
To get out, reach out to the Queen Bee, let her know you won't be able to make it anymore and then reach out to any identified mommy friends and ask them to stay in touch. If they respond, they are probably real friends.
Lastly, remember to surround yourself and your child with people who bring you up, who are encouraging and have similar values to you. Welcome to the middle school of motherhood, and ... happy parenting!