School Gate Anxiety

School Gate Anxiety

I wasn’t sure that this was something that I wanted to write about, or at least put my name to publically. The thing is with blogging is that you never know who reads your posts. You never know how far they reach and whose hands they will get into. But at the same time after carrying out a recent poll on Twitter about the school run, I kind of felt it my duty. I needed to discuss school gate anxiety and why we feel the way we do about this daily task.

Leading up to the Little Man starting school, I knew I was never going to look forward to the school run. Obviously, in the beginning, this was because I wasn’t sure how he was going to manage and cope with the whole drop off, but deep down, I knew that there was more to it than that.

I’m not a snob

I was always a quiet child. When I was growing up I was often called a snob because I was quiet, I was very misunderstood. I wasn’t a snob at all. I was just shy and wasn’t the type to strike up a conversation with strangers or new people. Little has changed over the years and so naturally the thought of mixing with people at the school gate made me a little apprehensive.

Once I get to know someone, I change completely. I become chatty, smiley and friendly. But I have to be comfortable with them first. I am the perfect example of an introvert and I’m not ashamed of that. It’s just who I am. I make no apologies.

The problem with the school gate is that it reminds me so much of school itself. It’s a new thing for me. I was just as nervous, if not more so, as the Little Man on the first day! I felt like the new girl. I was to a certain extent.

A smile costs nothing

Many of the parents at the school Little Man goes to know each other. There aren’t many of us that stand and wait on our own. Most of them stand in groups. That can be intimidating in itself. But when you make eye contact with another who is in one of the groups and they don’t smile or acknowledge your existence, it can make you feel a bit crap. It doesn’t make you want to approach them to try and get to know them.

School Gate Anxiety

I’m the sort of person who will smile at someone if they make eye contact with me. To me, that’s polite. It’s how I was brought up. Bearing in mind, these are people who I will see on a daily basis for a good few years to come, so it’s a nice thing to do, in my opinion. But, it seems a lot of people don’t think the same.

So this is why I dislike the school run, or more specifically, the school gate at home time. I’m way out of my comfort zone. I’m standing around lots of people and cliquey groups that I don’t know and I am not the sort of person who will just rock up at the school gates and start talking to anyone and everyone. It’s a little uncomfortable, to say the least. But it seems I’m not alone.

Not alone

I was curious, so I did a poll on Twitter. Funnily enough, whilst waiting in the school playground (what better way to avoid eye contact than by looking at my phone, right?!), I wanted to know if I was alone.

54% of people that took part admitted to dreading the school run whilst the other 46% said they weren’t bothered either way. Strangely enough not one person selected the ‘love it’ option.

I wanted to find out about other people’s experiences and so I turned to the ever honest blogger community. I felt so much better after reading the responses.


“My sons school has a lot of clique groups which I hate. I try an avoid hanging round in the morning or afternoon to be honest. Some of the Mums (and Dads!) are really rude and bitchy and it’s the kind that is spoken loud enough for others to hear. I haven’t been victim to it but I wont entertain it so best to keep well away!” Sophiesophobsessed.com

“I hate the school run because it is so cliquey! The Mums, and in fact Dads, at my children’s school are so stand offish to anyone they don’t already deem a friend. As somebody whose son came into the school in the middle of a school year, I felt incredibly left out from the start and I just try and get in and out as fast as I can these days.” Emma-Louiseevenangelsfall.com

“None of the parents at my sons talk, at all! Every single one line up in absolute silence while waiting for the staff bring out our children. It’s such an unsocialable place. My little one got invited to a birthday party from a boy there once and I spent the entire party feeling awkward because none of the parents spoke to each other.” Kaidenkaidenlaverty.com

“Thankfully I don’t have to do the school run anymore, but I used to hate it because people would stare and then turn away if you weren’t part of their “group”. Talk about not giving the kids anxiety in the playground, the parents should learn from the kids I think and just get on with it!” Angelathelifeofspicers.com

“I don’t have to do it anymore but I used to HATE it. I found the mums all knew each other and I don’t know if I gave off a ‘don’t talk to me vibe’ but no-one ever seemed to make an effort to talk to me. It is boring just standing there for 10-15 mins in the cold and wet, then there’s the parking issues or trying to get away from the area with people parking in all the wrong way.” Allywww.thesmldietblog.co.uk


I suppose the one thing to take from this is there is a really likely chance that there is someone else stood on that school playground that is feeling exactly how I am feeling. There are clearly more people like me out there than I realised and I now feel a little less left out, just from reading about other people’s experiences.

I know it’s early days and with a bit of luck, I won’t always feel this way. This time next year I won’t be the new Mum and there will be others there who have never done this before either. There will be others who dislike the school gate as much as I do now. Perhaps one of them will smile back and will feel relieved that they’ve found someone who knows exactly how they feel.


How do you feel about the school gate? Do you have good or bad experiences? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to know.


Many thanks go to all of the bloggers above for contributing to this post.


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  1. 2nd October 2017 / 12:25 pm

    I don’t have any children to have to drop at school, but I do smile at people I make eye contact with. #AnythingGoes

    • Jaki
      3rd October 2017 / 12:49 pm

      Thank you for doing that – it makes such a difference! πŸ™‚

  2. 2nd October 2017 / 1:55 pm

    So interesting to read other parents opinions of the school community. My oldest has been in school for 11 years now (That can’t be right!?!) and I’m finally more comfortable with the parents. There are always cliques, and I’m much like you in that I won’t start a random conversation with folks I don’t know. But after standing around you can sometimes see the other parents who, like you, don’t fall into the “cliques” that somehow are already established. That gave me a bit of bravery – I did eventually chat up another lone mom, and once you get (somewhat) friendly with one other, I think it’s a bit easier to chat with others as well.
    I hope you find an approachable parent who will smile back!

    • Jaki
      3rd October 2017 / 12:48 pm

      Thank you Jess. I got a smile and a ‘hello’ the other day so I’m making progress! πŸ™‚

  3. aliduke79hotmailcom
    2nd October 2017 / 2:55 pm

    I don’t have to do the school run now, I am glad it’s over. The school gate is awful unless you have a group you belong to.

    • Jaki
      3rd October 2017 / 12:36 pm

      It seems many parents feel the same.

  4. 3rd October 2017 / 8:15 am

    I hate the school playground always feel like a fish out of water and often alone great read thanks for hosting #triumphanttales

    • Jaki
      3rd October 2017 / 12:28 pm

      It’s not just me! Woo hoo! Thanks Nige πŸ™‚

  5. 3rd October 2017 / 8:54 am

    Urgh school was brutal, I had a tough time too. This reminds me so much of how I felt at the kids school gates. However, it wasn’t long before my kids are making friends and their mums were saying ‘hi’. Before you knew it I was standing with others – and they excepted me just the way I was! x #TriumphantTales

    • Jaki
      3rd October 2017 / 12:28 pm

      It’s the same as anything that’s new isn’t it? It just takes time. As I’m sure this will! πŸ™‚

  6. Something About Baby
    3rd October 2017 / 1:17 pm

    I don’t yet do the school run, but it’s something I look forward to and dread in equal measure. Like you, I’m not the type to just strike up a conversation with a stranger. If someone talks to me first, I’ll chew your ear off, but I can’t get over my fear of being the first to speak. It’s highly likely that by the time my son goes to school, I’ll still be working full time. Therefore I’ll rarely do the school run, so I think I will feel like a massive outside those few times that I do. I just hope someone takes pity on me if they ever see me standing alone and says hello #DreamTeam

    • Jaki
      7th October 2017 / 11:01 am

      I know exactly what you mean! Just remember to smile! πŸ™‚

  7. 3rd October 2017 / 1:37 pm

    We’re in year 2 now, so I’ve found a group of mums who I get along with. But I remember feeling like ‘the new kid’ in reception, I was more nervous for myself than my daughter as I wouldn’t know anyone! – Luckily, my daughters birthday is in October so I threw her a whole class party in an attempt to get to know the kids & parents, and it paid off thankfully! I’m like you though, I always acknowledge eye contact with a smile! We’re not cliquey mums, we’ve just found common ground together. #triumphanttales

    • Jaki
      7th October 2017 / 11:01 am

      That’s a great idea, I’m so pleased that worked out for you! πŸ™‚

  8. 3rd October 2017 / 4:19 pm

    I am such an introvert, just like you, and I’ve had mixed experiences of the school gate at home time. My oldest started school in rural Ireland and people there just stood in line, in near silence, waiting for the kids to be released, as it were. I hated it, especially as we were new to the area. We then moved to the town where we still live, and the kids, to a new school. My experience here has been a million times better. There were awkward moments at the beginning when I didn’t know anyone yet. But when the kids started making new friends, I met their mums and we became friends too.
    I’m sure it’ll be the same for you. Give it a few more months, maybe a year, and home time won’t be such an ordeal anymore. x

    • Jaki
      7th October 2017 / 10:56 am

      Yes, this is what I hope will happen when it’s not all so new anymore. I’m pleased you’ve had a good experience. x

  9. 3rd October 2017 / 5:02 pm

    I’ve always been a ‘Hi everyone, what do we do? where do i stand for which gate etc’ . I’ve been picking my 6 yr old niece up from school on occasion while im in the UK. I know no one in the playground, I’ve collected her a few times only and I’ve chatted with half the parents in her class already. I also go to the pub on my own of an evening and chat with my neighbours. However that doesn’t mean I’m always comfortable in my surroundings, that I don’t feel out of my comfort zone or that in anyway I’m intending to put anyone else down, I just bound around so I can’t be ignored and left feeling vulnerable stood in the corner, alone feeling uncomfortable #triumphanttales

  10. mommyhomemanager
    3rd October 2017 / 5:56 pm

    I love being a baby mommy….I feel like anytime I see another baby parent in public, it’s like we have an unspoken bond. I’m sure that goes away as kids get older and parenting styles evolve. Thanks for the little peak into what’s to come.

    • Jaki
      7th October 2017 / 10:52 am

      There is definitely an unspoken bond between baby mums!

  11. 3rd October 2017 / 8:27 pm

    I remember when Meme started school I was completely out of my comfort zone at the school gates, however I made a real effort to smile, to talk and to make friends I guess. I am now back at the school gates with Harri (reception have a different playground) knowing nobody again, but this time I feel quite happy on my own, I know I will make friends in time and so will you. #dreamteam

    • Jaki
      7th October 2017 / 10:52 am

      Thank you lovely x

  12. 3rd October 2017 / 8:49 pm

    I can identify with this. The moment a parent finds out that I am autisitic they treat me different. Luckily there are one or two who are accepting which makes all the difference X #triumphanttales

    • Jaki
      7th October 2017 / 10:48 am

      I’m pleased you have found some who are understanding. x

  13. 3rd October 2017 / 9:28 pm

    This is really interesting, I can totally understand feeling anxious about it. There certainly are a lot of cliques of mum’s around and it’s hard to be on the outskirts. However, as the ‘quiet till you know me type’ myself I think there is a beauty in observing and slowly finding your place rather than rushing in and befriending many people you may not naturally have much in common with. x #twinklytuesday

    • Jaki
      7th October 2017 / 10:47 am

      Absolutely! There are more of us around than I realised! x

  14. 4th October 2017 / 8:37 am

    I think this is so sad. It;s like the school playground as a child comes back to haunt you as an adult all over again. My children’s school had a really cliquey element. I hated it and steered away. They thought I was aloof and too busy for them but the truth is I couldn’t stand with them because all they did was gossip and moan. It’s a negative energy I could do without. I found a couple of girls I adored and I am sure you will too. Trust me, the negativity of those groups can be draining. Standing looking at your phone is the best option my lovely xx and if brave enough maybe walk up to someone else who is on their phone! Sometimes they are the nicest of people doing the same as you xx #FamilyFun

    • Jaki
      7th October 2017 / 10:46 am

      I have made a bit of progress since this post and there are a couple of nice people I’ve chatted to briefly. It’s a time thing I think. But in the meantime, thank goodness for our phones! πŸ™‚ Thanks for a lovely comment. xx

  15. wrexhammama
    4th October 2017 / 5:14 pm

    Hi Jaki. I don’t yet have to deal with school gate drama as L doesn’t start nursery until next September, but its making me feel anxious already #TriumphantTales

    • Jaki
      7th October 2017 / 10:41 am

      Oh you have a while. Don’t let it stress you out just yet. Enjoy the next 12 months because they fly by so fast! πŸ™‚ x

  16. 4th October 2017 / 5:52 pm

    what an apt post as I was thinking about writing about the school run also. More so from the other side of the fence though. My son went to the school nursery so the way you’re feeling now was very much how I felt then. And I thought screw it, I don’t need any new friends. It turns out, for me anyway, that all these parents who stood in little groups or chatted to each other were all in the same boat and they weren”t being cliquey but more that they felt a bit unsure too. Very gradually we got to know each other and I’m really happy to say that I have a lovely group of friends now. In saying that, I’m completely aware of how nerve wracking and awkward it can be for parents when they don’t know anyone and I always make sure I smile and say hello to everyone who catches my eye. I hope it gets easier for you. Thank you for sharing. #honeybeelinky

    • Jaki
      7th October 2017 / 10:38 am

      That’s really good to hear. You never know how someone is really feeling until you can actually speak to them. It’s easy to be misunderstood. Thanks for the comment.

  17. 4th October 2017 / 9:57 pm

    Luckily I don’t have to worry about this for a little while but I’m quite a loud person so I think I will be ok!
    Also I love your quote β€˜they may need a smile’ so very true x

    • Jaki
      7th October 2017 / 10:36 am

      Thank you. πŸ™‚

  18. webmdiva
    5th October 2017 / 2:27 am

    Total outsider Mom at my son’s school. It was a lot like Mean Girls going through menopause. We’ve made some changes though and are out of the public school scene. I’m relieved, lol.

    • Jaki
      7th October 2017 / 10:35 am

      Oh, bless you! Glad things are better for you now πŸ™‚

  19. 5th October 2017 / 12:50 pm

    Oh no. I’m so sorry to hear you feel this way. It’s so hard isn’t it. And way easier to hide our noses in our phones than make contact with groups who don’t seem to see us. I expect over time things will fall into place and any day you could bump into someone feeling exactly the same as you and you’ll have started your own little group in no time. Let us know how you get on Jaki and thanks for sharing with the #DreamTeam xxx

    • Jaki
      7th October 2017 / 10:34 am

      I am sure that in time it will work out exactly as you say. We all have to adapt to new situations. Thanks, Annette. xx

  20. talkingmums1
    5th October 2017 / 2:29 pm

    I am exactly the same Jaki, not great at striking conversation and therefore have been called a snob before. Luckily we have a nice mix of parents in our daughters year. There is one mum though who I will always smile at but she she always looks nervous or uninterested and looks towards the floor on the school run. I’m not sure if it’s a case of ‘I’m not interested’ or and anxiety thing? Whichever I’ll continue to smile x

    • Jaki
      7th October 2017 / 10:22 am

      Yes, a smile is the best thing to offer! I’m pleased there is a nice mix. As the weeks go by it’s getting easier for me.

  21. 5th October 2017 / 6:47 pm

    Perhaps we all feel like that at the school gates and we don’t want to make the first move. There’s one mum who’s lovely at our school gates, however some are quite tough to make small talk. A smile or a hello does wonders. #BloggersBest

    • Jaki
      7th October 2017 / 10:20 am

      I think the very confident ones are easy to spot, and sadly in my case these are the ones that don’t respond to the smiles. I’m sure however I’m not the only one who is feeling like this. Thanks for your comment πŸ™‚

  22. randommusings29
    6th October 2017 / 5:18 pm

    I always used to think the cliquey school gate mums thing was a bit of a joke, but I’ve read s many posts that talk about this. I can’t understand it at all. Surely those same people are teaching their children to be inclusive, yet the example they set says the opposite
    Thanks for linking up to #AnythingGoes πŸ™‚

    • Jaki
      7th October 2017 / 10:12 am

      This is exactly what I don’t get either! Thanks Debbie.

  23. 6th October 2017 / 9:08 pm

    I’m new to the school gates like you and I’m also finding myself to be an outsider. Most of the mums already know each other through the school nursery which my two haven’t attended. I tend to just stand with a shy silent smile where my little bounds about saying hi to everyone and anyone. I think there needs to be settling in days for parents not just the children! I can really relate to this Jaki. Thanks for linking to #DreamTeam x

    • Jaki
      7th October 2017 / 10:11 am

      Yes, now that would be a good idea! I hope it gets a little easier for you as the weeks go by lovely! Nice to know that we aren’t alone! X

  24. 7th October 2017 / 6:57 pm

    I totally get this. I’m a complete introvert and struggle to talk to people I don’t know well. There are definite cliques at my son’s school and I always stand alone but there are mums I say hello to as they pass. The first year wasn’t too bad as I was already friends with two of the other mums and we would stand together and chat. But our second kids are all one year apart from each other and as reception and nursery and normal school all let out from different gates we’re always waiting in different places and our older kids come find us where we get the younger ones from. It used to bother me, that awkward and alone feeling, but not so much anymore and I just get on with it now. I always make a point of smiling and saying hello to anyone who makes eye contact, it’s just good manners x
    Thank you for joining #FamilyFunLinky

    • Jaki
      7th October 2017 / 8:34 pm

      That’s it, manners! They cost nothing, do they?! It’s nice to know I’m not alone in this. x

  25. 7th October 2017 / 8:30 pm

    Hey Jaki! My Mrs., she does the school run, and actually, I am quite jealous as I head off to work. On the rare days that I do go to take them or pick them up, I am in heaven. I love the time in the car together. I love the time seeing other kids, families, teachers. I just love the feeling of being at the school. On the other side, I get the anxiety thing… and I do smile at everyone, even while driving! #fortheloveofblog xoxo

    • Jaki
      7th October 2017 / 8:33 pm

      Hahaha, I love this! Smiling is good, I love smiling, I just wish more people did it!! πŸ˜€ I do love seeing his little face when I pick him up though, it makes it all worth it!

  26. 7th October 2017 / 9:37 pm

    I am already worrying about this for when Reuben starts school. I really struggle to make small talk until I get to know someone. I’ve always been the one that is quiet and sat watching people but like you, once I know them I open up and become me. I hope that it is easier when he goes to school. But you’re right, a smile goes a long way! #TriumphantTales

    • Jaki
      8th October 2017 / 1:19 pm

      Keep smiling, I’m finding it’s the best way πŸ™‚

  27. mebeingmummy
    8th October 2017 / 10:16 am

    I don’t have to contend with the school gate saga for a while yet but am already dreading it. I’ve heard horror stories from other mums and felt it a little when I have picked my niece up from school… all very ‘clicky’. Chances are, everyone is probably feeling the anxiety, even the ones who seem to be care free. Thank you for linking with the #HoneybeeLinky! See you next week I hope! Xxx

    • Jaki
      8th October 2017 / 1:16 pm

      I think it’s a case of taking it in your stride. I get there later these days so I don’t have to spend quite do long up there πŸ™‚ Thanks for hosting.

  28. 8th October 2017 / 10:58 pm

    This is so like me and I wrote a post apologising to the other mums that I had seen on the playground for 3 years and still not been brave enough to talk to πŸ™ #triumphanttales

    • Jaki
      9th October 2017 / 12:19 pm

      Nice to know that we aren’t alone though hey? πŸ™‚

  29. 9th October 2017 / 1:12 am

    Popping back from #triuphantTales with a great big SMILE! πŸ˜€ xoxo

    • Jaki
      9th October 2017 / 12:12 pm

      πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ xx

  30. 9th October 2017 / 2:01 pm

    Mine goes to pre-school and I will talk to most of the Mums there. There are a few who clearly don’t want to make the effort and that’s fine. I have all the school gate stuff next year though! #triumphanttales

    • Jaki
      9th October 2017 / 6:21 pm

      Ooh good luck next year, I’m sure you will be fine though πŸ™‚

    • Jaki
      9th October 2017 / 6:22 pm

      All to look forward to – it doesn’t affect everyone this way. Hopefully, you will have a positive experience.

  31. 10th October 2017 / 10:12 am

    Oh yes! I don’t hate the school run- it doesn’t bother me, But, there are so many groups of mums who know each other from the pre school, or from having older kids there. It can be a lonely place and i too always smile at people. There is one mum who never ever smiles or acknowledges me even though our children play together before they go into class! That’s just rude right? I hope in time you (And I) find some friendly ones! Thanks for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday and sorry for the late commenting

    • Jaki
      10th October 2017 / 9:17 pm

      There is always one isn’t there?! I don’t understand people! Let’s just keep smiling – thanks for hosting! πŸ™‚

  32. lara
    10th October 2017 / 12:15 pm

    I hate the school run. In many ways it’s like being back at school yourself with all those cliques. Yuck. But you have to learn not to give a fook. Seriously. Go. Drop off your kids. Go. Pick up your kids. Go. You don’t have to get drawn into the playground politics. Seriously.

    • Jaki
      10th October 2017 / 9:15 pm

      That’s exactly what I do! I quite like it that way! πŸ™‚

  33. 10th October 2017 / 12:23 pm

    Ok, I’m a weird one because I love the school run, but maybe it’s because I only get to do it one afternoon, and 2 mornings where it’s shove him through the gate).

    I was the same as you as a child – my mum used to say because I was shy I gave off a snobbish attitude, but you can’t help that. Since 6th form, I don’t stop talking so while I’m still shy underneath, I cover it up well (although I am terrible at small talk).

    Luckily our school is small, and most people do say hello in passing. And there’s plenty to talk to. Admittedly I knew quite a few parents before starting, from family/village friends and nursery. There’s little talk outside of the specific class unless you know other people through siblings etc. But it’s usually easy to start a conversation with random people (although I did put my foot in it last week as I tried to indicate that the Grandad trying to drive into the parking space next to me, needed to turn round because it’s meant to be reversing only. Thankfully he wasn’t picking up from the same class but he wasn’t impressed). My only issue is that 2 mums in our class have issues with me because of my blog – one who was in the wrong but is now blanking me because I wrote a general post about my thoughts on gossiping to school about conversations outside, and the other due to other reasons but hopefully that’s now sorted out). Otherwise, I love meeting people I rarely see. I think we’re all going through the school together, and our kids could end up really good friends so start chatting early.

    I wrote a post recently about how to cope at the school gates (in particular as a working mum). Might have some tips.

    • Jaki
      10th October 2017 / 9:14 pm

      Oh great, I will be sure to check that out. I will come to learn in time, if any of them are aware of the blog. At the moment I don’t think they are but then you never know do you?! We put ourselves out there completely! πŸ™‚

  34. 10th October 2017 / 8:51 pm

    I don’t mind the school run now but I made myself go and introduce myself to other parents so I could make some proper mum friends, I’m so glad I went out of my comfort zone as I now have a few lovely mum friends but I can totally see how hard it can be. Thanks for linking up #BloggersBests

    • Jaki
      10th October 2017 / 9:06 pm

      I think it may be a time thing as well. It’s early days for me I guess! Thanks for hosting πŸ™‚

  35. Lee Everitt
    12th October 2017 / 1:49 pm

    I’m lucky enough to be able to drop my daughter at school on my way to work. I’ve noticed that the fellow Dads seem to have their own little gang/group, a group that I seem excluded from…. Not that I’m bothered, I’m there to spend a precious few extra minutes with my daughter not make small talk with strangers. I do agree with you though about always at least smiling or acknowledging someone, it’s just rude if you dont.

    • Jaki
      14th October 2017 / 7:09 pm

      Absolutely! I couldn’t agree more. A smile costs nothing:)

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