Don’t Ignore Me Just Because I’m New: A Plea to the PTO Moms

It’s hard to be the new mom– maybe just as hard as it is for our kids to be the new kid.

I’ve been the new mom quite a bit in the last five years.

  • New to the church
  • New to the school
  • New to the moms’ group
  • New to volunteering
  • New to a committee
  • New to a sports team

I’ve met some amazing women. And other places, I’ve really struggled and even been quite hurt.

Some moms are exclusive, cliquey, or just indifferent to new faces. They already have their friends, they don’t need any more, and they already know the routines so don’t feel the need to help anyone else learn the ropes.

Recently I volunteered to help with something I did professionally for eight years. I thought my help would be valuable. Three times, I volunteered to help fill different needs. Each time I was shuffled around, talked down to, told I wasn’t needed after all, or even downright ignored. After my third attempt, I went home dejected and deleted the rest of my sign-up spots for this group.

Then there are the welcoming moms–my lifesavers.

Many moms have welcomed me with a smile, some conversation, and, something I truly appreciate, a purpose.

Don't Ignore Me Just Because I'm New: A Plea to the PTO MomsSo, I speak as a representative of new moms everywhere to the moms who already know the ropes.  We just want to give you a little reminder:

We volunteer at the school because we want to be helpful. Don’t ignore us or insist you’ve got things covered when we show up.

We join the moms’ group because we need some adult friends. Please don’t shut down our attempts at conversation or “forget” to let us know about an upcoming activity. 

We might be on the sidelines to support our own children, but we’d love to get to know you and your child too so we can cheer him/her on as well! Please don’t give us a cursory greeting and then chat with your other mom friends you’ve known forever. 

Now, I am a firm believer that the new person should make plenty of effort too.

I’m not saying I want everyone else to throw out the welcome mat so I don’t have to do the work of belonging. But it sure would help if more of us were a little more aware of the new moms this year.

What can you do to be welcoming? 

  1. Look for new faces.  Schools, churches, sports, fine arts, and clubs are always changing and welcoming new members. I know you love seeing Becky and Alison every Monday night at dance, but keep an eye out (and an open seat nearby) for a new mom who might be joining the class this year. 
  2. Introduce yourself– but don’t stop there.  Saying your name and which child is yours is great, but we are all so much more than our mom stats. Get to know the new mom. Ask questions. Offer your own details. Make real conversation, and then try to remember her the next time you see her so she feels valued.
  3. Introduce others. Help her meet other moms in the group or someone else with whom she may have things in common.
  4. Invite her.  Having a get-together? Invite the new mom. Are kids going to the park Thursday afternoon? Share the details! 
  5. Give her a purpose. Ask her if she can be part of the snack rotation for practice. Tell her about a need in your organization and see if she can help. Invite her to a committee you’re on. 
  6. Just be kind. Even if it ends up that you don’t mesh and you’re not going to be part of each other’s friend circles, you can at least smile and say hi when you see her. No need to sneer, gossip, or do other unkind things that you wouldn’t want someone to do to you.

As the new mom, I certainly try to open myself up and be friendly. I introduce myself, offer help, invite.

But too many times I end up standing around awkwardly, desperately wishing someone would allow me into the “group”.

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Valerie grew up Naperville, Illinois, and is a Midwestern girl at heart even though she spent 16 years in Phoenix. She moved to Marion in 2016 with her husband, daughter (14), and two sons (12 and 9). Valerie graduated from BYU with a degree in Instrumental Music Education. She is a former band director, a current substitute teacher and accompanist, and an avid reader and crafter.

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