Plague Group with Sawhole

Top of the morning to you on this dreary Saturday. Brighten it up with a bit of SawHole. I let her off her leash this week so she is freestyle writing, on a topic that can divide or unite.
The very amusing Twitterer and ABC Newcastle radio host, Carol Duncan, got me thinking recently. About other mothers. And how I avoid groups of mums like the plague.
I’d made me wonder why SawHole has never really ‘done’ playgroup? When I first moved to Newcastle from Sydney, I heeded Mrs Woog’s advice about joining a playgroup. So I rocked up to a particular playgroup (in a suburb which sounds like Norge Clown) and submitted myself and Miss Charisma for inspection. That’s when the pregnant 26-year-old, who told me she was having her third child, said they had a one-year waiting list at this playgroup. Seems it was harder to get than a Cabbage Tree Club membership at Palm Beach.
However, I was able to put my name down on the list (two years now, ladies) and have a complimentary play.
So I sat down with them all. I was the oldest and the fattest. And the only one with one child. I left after we had our complimentary play, pining for the playgroup that is run by cynical, gin-drinking mothers, who got accidentally pregnant after too many wines.
I decided to give it another go and made my way to the Shamatonne playgroup. Most of the Mums were older than I, so that was a good sign. No-one really spoke to me and their kids went nowhere near Miss Charisma. Even when they did speak to me, I was bored. Until. I overheard them discussing how terrible it was that people were going to the Kmart toy sale and spending ‘money they did not have’. So SawHole did not fit in with the doctor’s wives either.
I mentioned this to my friend Alowichus Brown and she agreed with me. She said she went in the opposition direction whenever she saw a group of mothers at the park. For some reason, we both feel threatened by a pack of breeders. Is it a throwback to high school bitchiness?
Regular Woogsworld readers may recall the piece I wrote about the mums at Miss Charisma’s school. They are not mean. It is just obvious I am not one of them. Two days ago, I remember being relieved when my boss called because it gave me an excuse to wait outside on the lawn while they made their way inside.
The one exception I have to this is the group I made over the internet at a parenting site with a group of Mums who were all due in July 2006. I have not met most of them in real life but we have shared our stories, later pregnancies, job dramas, partner dramas and opinions about life with each other. Unconditional support and no judgement. All supportive and very lovely, but don’t go into the website’s What do you think? section. The bitches will bite your head off!
So as I go about my business seeking my tribe, I have realised I already have my tribe. We might call each other slappers, drink too much wine and do too much online shopping, but they are my girls. They are the ones I knew before kids and partners. Having a baby has not changed us totally. We just have less sleep, more wrinkles and a lovely collection of pharameuticals.
So, did you love Mother’s group?
Cheers Dears
  • Anonymous

    Totally agree!! The thought of playgroup sends shivers down my spine, my mothers group – while they are all nice people… I have zero in common with any of them .. I would always find excuses not to go and meet up for playdates… my daughter goes to daycare three days a week so as far as I am concerned she gets playtime with her peers and I am not subjected to some bloody awful group of breeders…. all happy!!

  • I don’t do playgroup here, or mothers group.

    We are raising our babies in the same area that we grew up in so while my girlfriends don’t have babies, I have been able to connect with friends of mutual friends with their own sprog. They’re my mamatribe.

    I tend to hang out with my girlfriends from back in the day though, and despite the fact I’m the only one with a babe – We still drink too much wine, call each other gawd awful names and have the odd night out which ends in someone puking their hole out. Noice!

  • I always thought why am I friends with people based purely on the fact that our kids were born at the same time?

    When you have little babies, especially the first time, it is nice, until they get a little older and the comparisons come in. “What! You have not started solids yet?”

    My tribe are my tribe, ingrown hairs, warts and all. xo

  • Did I love mothers’ group? Oh god no. I like my poison administered intravenously, not aurally. x

  • THIS is exactly WHY I started Sunny Mummy!

    YOU are in the wrong online hood if bitches are biting each others heads off in the ‘What do you think’ section, Miss Sawhole.

    We would welcome you with open arms into our hood {Mrs Woog too}, the only time we look down on a nother mummy is when we are helping her up!

    I will warn you though, we are perfect mothers in our community…FOR OUR KIDS!

    We dont give a stuff if you bake from scratch, drink vodka for breakfast or shop at K-mart….we just want you to enJOY motherhood 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your view and I am ex novacastrian so totally know about good old George 🙂

  • I don’t do playgroup either!
    I did for a few months about a year ago, but I got over that pretty quickly!
    It was all about (who’s baby is doing more) and all that jazz!

    As for these day’s, I don’t actually have alot of friends!
    All my girlfriends from highschool are so far up each other arse’s, and worried about which music festival they are going to next, and what they will wear. I just don’t fit in!

    I have some mummy friends, but again, they are all about how much their baby can do (they don’t drink!), and they do the baby talk thing, which makes me cringe!

    My best friend from high school had a bubs about 5 months ago. She lives just around the corner, so I should really visit more often. Thing is, she is married to the brother of the guy who is with the mummy that baby talks and doesn’t drink! Sooo…

    My sister lives in Sydney (where I am originally from), and she has a 6 month old. If only she moved up here. We could drink wine and quote the “Bad Boy Bubby” movie! ha ha ha
    If you haven’t seen that movie yet. Don’t!

    Well, there’s my novel for the day.

    P.S – All the mothers from my boy’s pre-school are older than me. Are on the school committee and like talking about Target.


  • *shudder* playgroups and mothers groups make me want to sit in a corner and rock.

  • I did a post about this a few weeks ago!my first experience at Playgroup was horrible, the mothers were all in their clicks, didn’t speak to me- and one had the nerve to bitch about another mother there to me!
    I have since been back- on a different day, that day I took along my friend as my security blanket.
    And surprise surprise they all wanted to speak to me! It’s sad how some women never grow out of their bittchy competitive ways!

  • i hate nothing more than the Mean Girl Playgroup Women…i tried playgroup last year and it was more hard work than fun so I stopped going….

    However, I gave it another shot this year with a new group and it is actually great.. Margaret River is full of people who love wine, food and music (i guess the people who choose to live here already have a little something in common)so I am finding the group of women I have met this year to be of a similar breed…

    We may do playgroup together but we also get out to the pub together kid free often..And I find that spending a little time with a glass of wine and kid free is the BEST test of friendship..

    Gill xo

  • Oh thank Christ! I thought I was the only one with a chronic and acute aversion to mother’s groups and playgroups. I certainly agree that it is a fear of that high school pack mentality. I’ve gotten along much better forming one on one friendships with other mothers than packs of them. This has worked well in our interstate move and intrastate move. Find the person you can be yourself with and who accepts your kids for the imperfect creatures they are.

  • Mother’s Groups, play groups, the group at the park that all seem to know each other… all of them scare the crap out of me!

    I have tried. Several times now, last time was beginning of this year where I was promptly told I had too many kids (3 with me, 1 at school- oh the horror!). Also had another come up to me while I was cuddling my newborn and say ‘ohh a baby. I hate babies’ whilst she snarled at me.

    Bring on that gin drinking mother’s group who don’t compete with everyone. I’d be there in a shot!

  • awesome post. I totally agree, I was an older mum and did the first time mothers group once and never returned. Eventually found a natural parent playgroup and loved it though

  • I’ve never been to a playgroup/mother’s group, and I never will.

  • Sawhole, I’ve successfully avoided playgroups with my youngest and given that there is just weeks until he starts school, I think I may just make it. My other two are teens and I did the mum’s group with them but it was a group of mums who quickly realised it would be WAY more fun to hang out after hours WITHOUT the kids and with a Sauvie instead of Nescafe. They’re still awesome friends and we still drink lots of Sauvie.

    BTW … think you should start a virtual mum’s group based on the above guidelines.

  • Liz

    My sister swears by playgroups. When she moved interstate it was the first thing she looked for. She was also part of the popular crowd at school.

    The only playgroup I ever joined was the one run by the TAFE students training to be early childhood teachers. Three particularly memorable moments were:

    1. A student saying ‘would it be OK if I study your daughter each week for the next 10 weeks? I just need to play with her and maybe take a few photos’ – yes, please do.

    2. The supervisor saying ‘we have some students who need to learn how to change nappies. Can we change your baby?’ – apparently some mums actually said no to that question.

    3. Meeting Mrs Woog who, like me, understood that the only way the students could really learn was to have time with the children away from their parents. She was the only other mother who had no idea where her children were and we hid in the corner sniggering at the other mums with their immaculate hair and coordinated outfits and enormous snack bag. I’d be there saying to my kids ‘you had a banana before you left. We come to playgroup to play. Look, go and do some painting.’

    When I rang up to join playgroup in NZ, they told me I had to do a course first. It was basically a group of very wealthy stay at home mums who had worked out how to get Government funding provided by educators – funding that some kids actually needed if they were to have any chance of having a life outside of housing estates. When I asked for an exemption because I already knew how to make playdough, they made it pretty clear that I wasn’t going to fit in.

  • Mrs digges

    Hilarious that Mrs Woog recommened you join a playgroup – she must have been pissed off with youthat week, cos I distinctly remember her despising the one she went to went H was born…In fact she successfully put me off them. I went to my local one only for enough sessions to scope out the underachievers in motherhood…the ones who couldn’t breastfeed and whose kids were not mensa candidates at 3 months. Those were the ones I befriended (away from playgroup)….out of 25 mums, I came away with three people I really liked.

  • Mrs Digges

    I should also note I am not wearing my glasses so apologies for the typos…I can spell…truly I can:)

  • Surely it only gets better with age? P&C or netball mums, anyone?

  • my blood just ran cold again. The school P&C. Ours was an all female management team, and not one male at any of the meetings I went too. They didn’t like me from the start because I broke the sacred law, don’t EVER say anything negative about anything that they do.

  • So proud to have provided SawHole with inspiration … I will need a drink to settle down!

    I tried to hard to be a good mama & take my two little darlings to playgroup to socialise them – I mean, it works for puppies.

    I’m loathe to suggest that playgroups are the root of all evil based on my experience, but your other comments here are kinda backing me up.

    The mothers at my experience of playgroup had all grown up together and married each other’s brothers … thus creating, in my opinion, a rather sick little coven of bitchy blinkered cows who’d never lived more than two minutes from their parents.

    My kids, and I, are better of without them.

  • I’m terrified of playgroups! I wasn’t popular at school and loathe small talk, meeting new people etc etc. But I don’t have any friends that are mums or really anybody with kids. IRL, that is! I was going to at least give it a go, but my sister had some pretty awful experiences herself and put me right off! Perhaps I’ll teach the kids to type very early and they can be socialized online instead 😉

  • Anonymous

    I find this post a bit sad really. I go to a playgroup with some really lovely mums. I hate to say it ladies but it is what you make it. If you go in with a negative attitude, you’ll have a bad time of it.

    Not all the mums are going to be exactly the same as you but it doesn’t mean they are a lower form of life or boring. Maybe they aren’t bitchy maybe they’ve just been hanging out together for a long time and you have to go the extra mile to feel included because they have a lot in common and aren’t spending every minute of every day thinking about someone else. Maybe they are just having a bad time or suffering PND or just want somewhere for their kids to go and play and have a bit of adult contact.

    It isn’t for everyone but I think its important to not be judgemental yourself.

  • I’ve tried playgroup a few times… when Mr 15 was little and then again when Mr 8 was little (Silly me thinking it might of just been the first group I didn’t click with). Nah uh.. both groups were clicky and competitive. Even the kinder committee was a bitchfest.. the secretary and fundraising coordinator had regular stoushes.
    I’ve only clicked with one or two mum’s from the mini’s primary school.
    I don’t believe that it is what you make of it because I have tried being chatty etc and it is hard when it is a one way street. Either people want to get to know you or they dont, simple as that!
    I will just stick with my friends and their kids… oh and I have made some fantastic friends via the internet too… 🙂

  • Anon, of course no one here is saying that ALL playgroups etc are like this. So far i’ve gone to 4 of them in my 6yrs of being a Mum. I’ve gone in each time with a smile on my face, tried to approach people, thinking positively that this will be a good thing for both my children and myself only to be met with hostility, death stares and blatant rudeness (come on, who walks all the way across a room to tell someone that they hate babies?).

    You said that perhaps some in the group were experiencing PND. Well honey, who’s to those who are new aren’t suffering the same and are there as a way to try and break the rut?

    Maybe next time you get a ‘newbie’ who arrives at your playgroup/mothers group/pack of whatever, you could think of posts like these and make sure that you go out of your way to be welcoming.

    You just never know who you are going to turn away by being horrible to those new people.

  • Anonymous

    Mrs B,

    I’m just wondering if the fact that you refer to my group as a pack when you know nothing about me or the group that I belong to says anything about how much you judge other people.

    As for the PND I was referring to my own experience. There were weeks during the time before I got treatment when I didn’t really know how to make small talk with people I didn’t know. During this time there were two things that were keeping me in the land of the living. My contact with my friends at playgroup (who at that stage were the only people I knew in town) and the thought of how unfair it was to leave my son without a mum.

    I got to know one of the mums who came to check out our playgroup months after I had started treatment through another community activity. She said that she had found me really hard to talk with when she came to the playgroup and had thought I was a complete snob. She hadn’t realised my situation at the time and I’m glad I had the chance to explain to her the reasons behind it as we are quite good friends now. At the time though I wouldn’t have noticed what she was going through Depression is a very self focussed time.

    I also find something slightly ironic about your problems with playgroups considering the vitriolic nature of your response to my comment that they are a positive place and that the people that attend them are human and make mistakes. It is responses like yours, and I’m sure there will be more to come, that are the reason I haven’t put my name to my posts

    There was also nothing in my post that said the group I go to is unwelcoming to new people I just know that as a person coming into a new town I have had people say about the groups that I have joined being clicky and may have seemed so on the surface. However I found that if you front up week after week after week and be positive and nice you find that eventually you have more in common with the people that go than you would have initially thought. .

    People aren’t perfect but different people accept this to different degrees.

  • Mrs Porteous

    My mothers group/playgroup friends are now my drinking buddies.

    SawHole, you could run rings around some young Georgetown mum.

  • Absolutely PMSL. I do, however, need to point out that on the parenting site which you have cleverly not named, I am often the uber-bitch on the WDYT forum.

    Because I hate playgroup.

    And mothers’ groups.

    And I have been known mock them mercilessly. There are those on said site (or possibly one just like it) who have been somewhat mean to me on these topics, and who seem to think I’m missing out on the best part of being a mother.


  • Anon, Mrs B didn’t refer to “your group as a pack” she said group/pack. Some people refer to their lot as a pack.

    While it’s all good an well to expect a new person to come along all positive,

    Not everyone is like that. If I did go to playgroup/mothersgroup I wouldn’t be positive at all about it. Not until I actually felt accepted.
    Some people need a little extra attention to make them feel welcomed.

    Anywho, we were all talking about our individual experiences.

    I can only presume that you perhaps were slightly offended by all the negative responses to playgroup by commenters thus far.

    This is purely coincidental that the majority of first comments are from like minded people with negative thoughts about playgroup.

    I’m sure Mrs Woog and Sawhole also have many readers who love love love playgroup to bits.

    I think we are all quite right to be judgmental about situations that have caused us to feel judged ourselves.

    By saying that “this post is sad”. Is that not being judgmental yourself?

    I’m sure Sawhole was probably in quite positive spirits when she chose to write about her own thoughts based on her own experience.

    You could have just wrote about what a positive experience you have with your playgroup, rather than saying what other people think is not right, just because it does not fit with your own beliefs.

    I’m glad you have a great playgroup. There should be more great playgroups for everyone.

  • I love my mothers’ group – I even blogged about them last week 🙂 There’s a teeny tiny bit of competition, but more often that not we’re just a bunch of chicks from a dodgy suburb who get together to have too much cake at morning tea time. There are ten of us all together but only ever get about 6 each time, so it’s quite intimate. We are very different though, with one person finding mental illness a strange phenomenon that happens to ‘other weird people’ and me the resident PND sufferer – but so far so good with just respecting each others’ ways of parenting.

    P.S. I hate it when people post as Anonymous

  • Never been to a playgroup, but I have the best mothers group ever, started with 11 mums, one dropped off in the first two weeks, we all had suspicions of PND and attempted to encourage her back, no luck, she didn’t return.

    We are about to organize our Xmas dinner catch up, no kids allowed!

    They are all top women, i love every crazy weirdo one of them. But don’t ask to join us, this club is for members only, and we are full.

    I guess because we are such a successful group I haven’t had to look for anything else.

    Also possible that by some freak chance, none of us had family close by, we were all needing to stock up on some helping hands.

    Lastly, psych studies have shown that getting involved with a mothers group can significantly reduce the chance of new Mums suffering depression. It is the main reason the government funds such ideas. However I fully understand that someone already suffering any form of depression will find the whole idea terrifying.

  • Ooohh, me too! I really tried with my oldest, but found myself with a strange compulsion to squash the playdough on the nearest gossip-monger’s nose.

    Finally found my tribe with my youngest twins. We eat, drink and don’t pretend that we’re doing this for the benefit of the kids. We were also friends before our kids were even introduced. Much better.

  • Anonymous


    Just wanted to clear up a couple of things. I wasn’t saying it was sad as in pathetic. I found it genuinely sad that people had had such horrible experiences with playgroup, or were willing to write something off they had never themselves tried. I guess that is the hard thing with these forums is you don’t get to convey tone as you would like to.

    Mrs B was talking about my experience when she said “well honey” in her comments about PND and I didn’t think it was in a nice way. And I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone refer to a mothers group as a mother’s pack, the only things I’ve ever heard of as a pack are wolves or wild dogs so i guess in consideration of the tone of the rest of the message I thought it was a bit of a snide comment. I guess I”m glad to know now it wasn’t.

    Its also nice to know from your post and most of the rest of this site that mums get support from all avenues.

    I also know that people hate it when people post as anon but I guess when you are going against the tide sometimes you don’t want to be known as generally on these types of forums if you disagree with someone they write you off on all topics.

  • Not surprisingly. I have started a bunfight. Well that is my whole purpose in life so it looks like I have achieved it.
    Now I am not saying all playgroups are like this. My cousin used to coordinate one and really liked it.
    Just for the record, IRL I had a great mother’s group. Was it because we lived in Redfern and consequently were a diverse group? There was no bitchiness and there was even formula feeding going on in the group and no-one cared. So I can socialise with other Mums. However, I always do go back to my pack. That’s because they are drunk and fabulous!
    However, I maintain that the two Playgroups I tried in Newcastle were awful.And I am still waiting for those NorgeClown women to call me up about my spot on their ‘waiting’ list.
    Cheers Dears,

  • Anon, I wasn’t going to post again, cause it was obvious that i’d annoyed you, but to my defence, I called it a ‘pack of whatever’ cause there is so many different terms for playgroups/mothers groups etc around that it was easier to call it that. If I was intending on being a bitch, then I would have said ‘pack of wolves’ or worse.

    As for the PND remark, who is to say that I don’t/haven’t suffered from it myself? One of my many reasons to try and join a playgroup was to help myself with major anxiety issues and depression. So it wasn’t aimed at you, how am I to know that you had it?

    And lastly, the Honey part, oh my was that really that offensive? I call most people Honey or Sweety, Sweets etc, it was definitely not meant to be in a condescending tone that you have taken it in.

    For what is worth, i’d love to be able to catch up with some adults who have kids and let my kids have fun while I get to have an adult conversation. Its just a big shame that many of these groups make it so damn hard for anyone to even break the surface with a tiny dint let alone get into the middle of them all!

    I shall take my apparent ‘vitriolic nature’, pick up my ball and head on home.

  • Love it. Playgroups are sooooooooooooooo boring. Let alone the number of times you have to be on ‘duty’! I have my few chosen friends and Mums who I’ve met who are honest, sarcastic, tell-it-like-it-is wine-drinkers, and we stick together like glue! Do not, I repeat, do not venture into playgroup territory!

  • *lobs ultra-sticky coffee and caramel flavoured bun at Sawhole*

    *departs quietly*

  • I tried… I really did… but you know I lived happily on top of a mountain for a reason. I have slowly gotten to know a group of really amazing moms that live in my ‘hood, but as for the organized sing a ling and clapping fiesta… no thanks.

    However, coffee is always available if you drop in for a chat… and if you get here early enough there’s still bailey’s to top it up with 😉

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  • Wow.

    Personally, I love my mum’s group, and my playgroup is absolutely awesome. I don’t know where I’d be without them.

    It’s always hard, being the new person in any group, anywhere.

  • I took all three of my children to play group (two different groups), but never really enjoyed attending. While my children enjoyed it, we went. When they stopped wanting to go, we stopped.

    I know there are some great groups out there and the ones I attended were okay, but they simply weren’t something I enjoyed for a variety of reasons.

  • So I had Oscar home for all of about two days before the first Mother’s Group meeting at Crows Nest Early Childhood Clinic. I was DESPERATE to go because it was the first ‘normal’
    thing we would be doing, having just spent six weeks in hospital.

    At first I thought, oh my GOD everyone looks so competent. And rich. And older.

    But I don’t know, perhaps it was that Oscar was the size of a walnut, or that something like 90 per cent of our group had no family in Sydney but we all just clicked.

    By Week 3 one of the mum’s said – this once a week mtg isn’t enough for me, so if anyone else wants to get together more often I’ll be at this cafe at this time on this day. And that was it, there were two mother’s group meetings for years.

    I think it was that a core group of us simply did not care for reputation or appearance and had no qualms in saying, ‘I’m having a really rough time at the moment’ or ‘man, I really need a drink’.

    I think the fact our baby health nurse said from the outset – this group can make or break you. Either realise this group exists for support or let it become one for constant competition, you decide.

    So now I regularly see two of the girls from the group, stay in loose contact with another four and have just reconnected with one who moved to Melbourne a few years back.

    I am, in fact, god mother to the third child of one of the women from mother’s group.

    I guess that none of my friends were having babies and I just had no one to hang w/ during the week and blogging, twitter and Facebook didn’t exist back then drove me to forge new friendships with people who could empathise with just what it was to have someone piss, shit or spew on you without your permission.

    So yeah, totally utterly blessed in that department.

    Playgroups on the other hand – would not go near one of those with a barge pole. I just thought they were group meetings for the mother’s breastfeeding until puberty.

  • Didn’t do mother’s groups or any kind of dreaded Army wife mother’s group, eeww. Just to defend those of us who has 3 children by age 26 – i also had 2 degrees from Sydney Uni, i just had them straight out of Uni & yep, kept going. I love my school mummies – we move every 2 years so i have seen it all!! Next stop high school, love Posie

  • I was lucky. My mums group with millar were all lovely mums once I got to know them. It may have helped that we were all there from the start. I think it might be hard to come into an established mums group later on. I now live an hour away from them but still catch up occasionally and keep in touch through facebook and blogs.
    I also joined a few online mums groups which were fantastic. The worst thing about online mums groups though, are anonymous commenters which are usually the biggest bitches hiding behind anonymity.
    Mums groups are not for everyone. Comparison parenting is toxic and can be found everywhere – luckily not in my mums group.