Stereotyping the school-run Mum.


Stereotyping the school run mum.

Recently I have seen a couple of posts written about the types of mum we meet at the playground at home time.

They infuriate me. 

Stop Stereotyping Mothers!

I’m not saying the bloggers behind the posts are in the wrong completely, I get it, it’s easy to look at a mother on the school run and assume the ‘type’ of parent that they are but it really, really frustrates me that mothers are still being labelled or classed as something through the eyes of other mothers.

From the perspective of these bloggers, I would be the ‘rude mum’. The mum that doesn’t speak, or interact with the other mums on the playground, the Mum that stands on the side looking towards the door that my daughter is about to come out from, ignoring the conversations about play dates and upcoming parties.

The thing is though, it makes me angry that to some, I am seen as rude, when the reality is much more complex than that. I have social anxiety, almost all the other mums on the school run wouldn’t know that, because they’re not my friends, they don’t know me in any other situation other than when I have my back to them in the playground. I can’t help that I feel awkward and nervous around crowds of people, I can’t help that I don’t like, or really know how, to strike up conversations with strangers. So, in my head, the school run is more than picking up my daughter, it’s a small challenge I have to experience every day, something that often makes me shake a little, or feel a bit sick, but if that makes me rude in others eyes, that’s fine.

You’re entitled to your opinion.

But, if you’re guilty of judging other mums you see, or possibly even someone who has written a ‘school run mum’ listicle, did you ever consider that the rude mum might just have a mental health issues?

There’s a mum on my school run that only picks up her daughter once a week.
From the eyes of the other judgemental mothers around her, she looks like the ‘busy working mum’ who ‘couldn’t find a job that fits around the school run’ TUT TUT.
What those other mums might not know, is that this mum works in McDonald’s clearing the tables and the floor after other families make them a mess.
She’s not in a high-powered position, running a company and leaving her kids with a child minder so that she can rule the world. She’s picking up other people’s leftover food so that she can give her children theirs. See, she’s a lady who had teenage children, kids who can stay at home alone while she works, but she had a little girl a few years ago who is now fully dependant on her to provide, so she has taken an opportunity to earn money and she’s run with it. Due to the nature of her position, she works shifts, sometimes through the night too, to provide for her children. Which often means she can only pick up her youngest once a week. If that makes her the ‘mum who didn’t try to get a school friendly job, tut tut’ then that’s fine.

You’re entitled to your opinion.

But did you ever consider that she’s just working a job to help her provide for her children and can’t help that her shift pattern prevents her from picking up her youngest child after school?

We have a ‘fit mum’ on our school run too, she’s always there in her fitness gear, sports shoes, yoga pants, the works, fabulous shaped body, flawless curves and skinny arms. The envy of us who still sport a little pouch above our waistband.
But, did you know that when this woman was younger she was anorexic and very, very ill? Did you know that she was once told she would never have children because she had abused her body so much, she had jeopardised her fertility, at the age of only 18?
Did you know that she had always dreamed of finding a husband and having children, and spurred on by her diagnosis, she found fitness and healthy eating to help her regain body confidence? Did you know the little boy she picks up from school is such a miracle to her, a child she thought she would never have, is only here because she works out everyday, and eats healthy foods at every meal?
If that makes her the ‘fit mum’ in your eyes, that’s fine.

You’re entitled to your opinion.

But do you realise that she still works out everyday because she worries if she didn’t, her eating disorder could come back?

The mum who ‘has it all’, what an entity! We have one of those too. Pretty hair, pretty nails, face full of make up, beautiful clothes. Not only that, her kids always have their snack money on time, she never forgets their gym kit or book bag. She’s always on time to drop off and pick them up, looking lovely as ever.
How does she find the time to make sure she forgets nothing and looks absolutely gorgeous in the process?
Well, this mum is often up by 5am, very rarely asleep by 11pm because she’s a mobile hair and beauty therapist. Her lovely car that’s always shiny and clean, has a boot full of kits and tools that help her make her living. She cuts hair, waxes eyebrows, applies nail extensions, inserts hair extensions, makes over woman on their wedding days. She’s always got a client waiting for her, she has built her empire by sacrificing her sleep. She spends the days making other people look pretty – she has to make sure she turns up looking brilliant because that’s her trade, her profession, if she turned up looking anything less than made up, her customers might question her ability to do her job. If she can’t do anything with her hair, how will she do theirs? If she hasn’t got lovely nails, will she be able to make other people’s nails pretty? She is her own advertisement, she wakes up so early to make sure that she has enough time to get herself ready before her kids wake up so that when they do, she can focus on them, give them their breakfast and help them dress. The reason her children always have the stuff they need for school is because she simply can’t afford to forget. If she had to detour to fetch something forgotten, her whole day is thrown and her clients would be questioning their decision to hire her.
The crazy thing is, despite being a busy mum, her youngest is only in school in the afternoons but, because she knows her busy work schedule can often get in the way of family time, she allows herself half an hour slot at lunch time to eat, pick up her youngest from the child minder’s and drop her off to school so that her daughter can always be waved off by her, because she just wants to be a good mum.
If that means she ‘has it all’ that’s fine.

You’re entitled to your opinion.

But, just remember that this woman is self-employed and relies on her clients to make ends meet, she doesn’t get holiday pay, sick pay or employee perks, she’s a mum who’s working as hard as possible to make sure that her kids are happy and cared for.

The disorganised Mum. What a sight, probably the mum most judged by others on the playground. Often late, often forgetting the school essentials, very rarely seen wearing anything other than jeans and a t-shirt, no make up, hair in a pony tail. The one who is always three paces in front of her kids saying “hurry up, we’re late!” Reaching her hand behind her to pull her little ones along, a look of guilt and shame on her face as she drops her kids off late for the fourth day in a row.
The kids often look a little scruffy, sometimes even a bit grubby, this Mum, is the Mum most often called the ‘Bad Mum’.
She’s clearly not doing her job, she’s a mess, her kids are dirty, the uniforms are stained. Her kids never go to parties, they never send invites to their own parties, the snack money bill is getting larger and larger, the book bag is a hand me down that’s worn and torn, the kids shoes are covered in scrapes – she really should buy her child new shoes! For goodness sake!
But here’s the thing, did you ever consider this woman’s life at home? Did you know that she’s in an abusive relationship with an alcohol dependant man? Did you know that she’s often woken 3, 4, 5 times a night to the sound of her husband puking on the floor? Or going to check he hasn’t choked on his vomit only to notice that he’s wet himself, in bed. Did you know that at 3 am this morning she had to carry her husband to the bathroom, by herself, lay him in the bath, strip him naked, wash him, dry him, dress him, leaving him in a slump on the bathroom floor while she takes her youngest out of his bed and places him in bed with his big brother, before carrying her husband into her sons bed and tucking him in there, before heading back into what should be her and her partners bedroom, to strip it off, soak out the pee, cover it in powders to help with the smell and then she cleans up the puke before heading to the kitchen at 4:30am to put the sheets into the machine. After which, she heads back to the living room and the makeshift bed she has made out of old blankets and the cushions from the sofa where she has slept for the last two years?
This woman has 4 children, three of which are young, primary school aged children, the other has already moved out at the age of 16. These children are always in school, they might be a little late, a little messy but they make it, despite the fact that she was awake half of the night caring for her husband, she still gets up every morning to make sure her kids get to school.
If that makes her the ‘bad mum’ that’s fine.

You’re entitled to your opinion.

But, did you ever consider that this woman struggles, daily, to make sure that her family stays as a family? Did you know that her eldest child has witnessed her mum trying to take her own life? Did you ever consider that this woman isn’t disorganised, she’s broken. Did you ever consider that, in a years time, this woman will also be alcohol dependant, and her children will suffer more than they ever did?
Did you know that all this woman really needs right now, is a friend?

All of these women are mothers. That’s it. Their appearance doesn’t make them a certain type of parent, or a certain type of mother.
When you look around you on the playground, I ask that instead of judging the women around you, ask yourself, what do I really know about this woman? The rude mum, she might be happy to talk, if you spoke first, I know I would.
The mum who didn’t try to get a school time friendly job, actually did, but ended up with a job that didn’t offer those hours, maybe next time you see her, say hi, instead of looking at her and thinking negatively about her choices.
The fit mum, she might make you feel envious, but I’m sure if you looked past what you think and approached her, she might actually be really nice and offer you some friendly advice about how you could fit fitness into your own routine. The mum who has it all, she’s just busy, but instead of thinking about how right she’s getting it and how wrong you’re getting it, well the same rules apply, say hi, strike up a conversation, she might just be the hairdresser you’ve always dreamed of, or better, the mother of your child’s best friend with whom you could become friends with, despite her busy schedule.
And then, then, there’s the bad mum, the mum who we mostly ignore, the mum who probably needs our interaction more than anyone else on that playground. The mum who looks like she puts in the least effort, the mum who looks like she’s getting it even more wrong than you are.

She’s the Mum who happens to be My Mum.

That’s why I hate these stereotyping of mums blog posts, because for one, you’re basing your opinions on how a woman looks and behaves during the 5 minutes you see her at the playground and secondly, because the mum who gets the most judgment is often the Mum who deserves it the least.

We’re all just mums doing what we can for our children under the circumstances of our lives. Stop all this bullshit judgment of the people around you and remember that to you, that woman looks like a fit mum, or looks like a bad mum, but to their kids, they just look like Mum.
Just like you look just like Mum to yours.

I may be socially awkward on the playgroud, but, I have taken a brave step by joining in with the Parent Group offered by my daughters school. Thats why I know that these women arent just fit, or busy, because the times they have been able to come to the group too, we have learned about each other and I know they’re more than what their appearence will have you believe.

As always, thanks for reading!

Kaboodlemum Motherhood and lifestyle blog.


14 thoughts on “Stereotyping the school-run Mum.

  1. yummum81 says:

    Hey! Great post. Yes I am the rude and fit mum in one. I only do the school pick up twice a week as the other days I work. I find that a lot of mums are clicky and will not make the effort to talk to me and not being there every day does not help.

    I am also a fitness enthusiastic so can often be seen in my active wear, and I know I get a few looks and not friendly ones! Like you say people need to stop judging other, as women we should empower other women and not bring them down!!

    • KaboodleMum says:

      Absolutely! I don’t understand why there is so much clicky-ness on the school grounds. There’s nothing wrong with wearing fitness clothes or only collecting your little one twice a week because you work! Unfortunately though, you’ll always experience some sort of negativity because there will always be those who disagree with your choices and think that they’re right! Just keep doing you, as long as you and your children are happy, that’s all that matters 🙂

  2. ApocalypseNowt says:

    Great post. It’s something we’re all guilty of to a greater or lesser extent….doesn’t hurt to be reminded now and again that appearances aren’t always what they seem. My daughter starts school this year so i’ll be sure to bare it in mind! xx

  3. zaralouu says:

    LOVE this post, if only others could share this idea of not being so judgemental upon first impressions! I too get frustrated at the constant ‘war zone’ of the playground and had found myself almost attempted into being dragged into a ‘hair colour war’ I shrugged it off and carried on amidst tuts and eye rolls *haters gonna hate* the husband barked and I guess it rings true. At the end of the day we are there for one reason, to collect our loved ones and drop them into a place that shapes and moulds their future. Friends are a benefit of the role but priority will always ALWAYS be my children getting to school ad being educated, toothpaste on cheek and all.
    Well done on a fab post!

    • Faye Elizabeth says:

      Thank you! I’ve had colourful hair in the past too, I went pink and purple and silver not so long ago and the stares were overwhelming Sometimes. But, I tend to mind my own business anyway so I just moved on and forgot about them. I find it frustrating that people are happy to share blog posts about the women they meet and the labels they’ve applied to them. I just wish the whole ‘mummy wars’ weren’t an actual thing!

      • zaralouu says:

        Hear hear! As depeche mode once sang ‘people are people’ haha! – I refuse to let people like that befriend me, I believe they truly lead miserable lives if all they can do is spit venom upon other people so freely – only happy souls are catered for here! 😀 – keep smiling and keep being there for your precious one 🙂

      • Faye Elizabeth says:

        Me too, I wouldn’t make friends with anyone who’s able to make such judgements of others so easily, they’re the types of friends who say one thing to your face and other behind your back. I’ve seen the back of plenty of those, I wouldn’t want more.

  4. Jonathan says:

    See (tongue firmly in cheek), the only school mums I have a chip on my shoulder about are the trophy mums that turn up in coffee shops after dropping their kids at school, wearing all their label clothes, invariably with their pre-schoolers in carbon composite buggies. They also appear in the playpark in the middle of town on sunny weekend mornings, more to be seen to be there, more than for their kids to have any fun.

    I live in a very affluent area though, so that’s probably a huge part of it.

    • Faye Elizabeth says:

      Yes, I can see where you’re coming from and it is difficult to see past the front they put on but mostly, and maybe it’s because I’m a pessimist, I think to myself when I see those types of women, “who has made you feel like you need to impress others so much?” And sometimes, it is as simple as it looks, they just want to be seen and heard doing the things were ‘supposed to Do’ to look like a better mother and give them selves the introverted satisfaction of oneupmanship, in which case I think, “I just feel sorry for you.”

      That probably makes me sound just as bad as those who judge others, but we’re all guilty of it I guess.

  5. Catherine says:

    Nice post and good food for thought. We all label. Sometimes we label correctly and sometimes we label incorrectly. But we label mostly on appearances. I think, though, that the vast majority (maybe I’m idealistic) doesn’t truly label until someone shows their true colors through personality. And I think those stereotypes are due to the personalities that sometimes belong to those appearances. Quite honestly, I had many “earth mother” playground friends who thought nothing of approaching a woman feeding her child a bottle and extolling the virtues of breastfeeding. 99.9 percent of these moms wore Birkenstocks, no makeup, oversized T shirts with either PETA or Greenpeace written across the chest, long broomstick skirts and didn’t comb their hair. I would be mortified every time one of these women would approach a bottle feeding mom. Then we had the brand-name mommy who would show up head to toe in expensive clothing and accessories. There is nothing wrong with that–but there is something wrong with bragging to everyone that your husband makes tons of money for you to afford those luxuries. We label sometimes due to behavior.
    Many people thought my oldest son to be an incredible snob. It was simply because he was painfully shy and reserved and was aloof. People always asked me why he would be off by himself and I would explain then when he got to know the others he opened up.
    I think communication is key. Lots of people don’t like me because of my opinionated personality..and that’s cool. If they want to label me so be it. I don’t care anymore. As long as you have that core group of friends and family—nobody else matters!

    • Faye Elizabeth says:

      I think you’re right, sometimes behaviour can help influence an opinion of someone, and I’m not saying that I don’t, or ever have, judged someone because that would be a bare faced lie, I have. But I think, from my perspective and having the chance to get to know some women who look stereotypical, that it’s wrong to assume things about others. In general though, I do feel that I have better things to do than stand in the school playground observing the other mums, and I think anyone who does do it, should think a little more about the person behind the outfit.
      You’re right though, there’s a difference between wearing brands and flaunting them, same as there would be a difference if the ‘fit mum’ started going up to the ‘bugger mums’ telling them to loose weight.

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