The Return of Speed-Mumming

Nearly a year ago, I wrote about how utterly useless I was at Speed-Mumming; the impossible task of making parent friends as your toddler tears round the park / playgroup / soft play / library / coffee shop / wherever leaving chaos in their wake.

I wrote of how you have literally the split second that is your toddler’s attention span to make a good impression, gage the other parent’s reaction and assess whether this is someone you want to exchange numbers with, then actually manage to swap numbers without your toddler swiping your phone from your hands screaming, “Sleeping Bunnies!!! Snowman!!! Sleeping Bunnies!!!” as she demands you to play her favourite songs. (Maybe that last part is just me…)

Well, of course, with moving out of London, I’m starting from scratch all over again. While I obviously haven’t just dropped my existing mum friends because we’ve moved, they’re no longer on the doorstep and within easy reach to meet for coffees or a run around the park with.

I’m lucky in a way that I’m returning to work at the end of February, so it’s only a couple of weeks I have potentially long, lonely days ahead of me for. But equally, it’s arguably easier to meet other people in our new town via the playgroups while I’m off work.

So. Once more unto the breach, dear friends…

Last week, I was sorting the house, viewing nurseries, etc. But by Thursday, I was feeling lonely and missing having my friends near by to call on for an hour’s rest bite and other little ones for Little Miss to socialise with. I couldn’t find any playgroups online for a Thursday, so we went off explore the town and find the playground.

 The playground was completely empty.

Where were all the mums!? We had the playground all to ourselves the whole 40 minutes we were there. I couldn’t believe it. Eventually I gave up and I we headed home for some lunch.

The OH had Friday off to help sort bits and bobs. We took a break to give Little Miss a run around and headed to the park once again.

When we arrived there was another youngish looking mum, with a three year old boy and an under one. Little Miss watched the little boy closely and followed him round for a bit, laying solid ground work for a first move.

The OH complimented the little boy on his dragon wellies and got the conversation started. (What we learned from Friday is that the OH is naturally far more skilled at this Speed-Mumming than I am.) After a time, the little boy decided he’d had enough of the jungle gym and headed for the swings. The mum dutifully followed.

“Amie, go ask her about playgroups and stuff. Say you’ve just moved here and you don’t know anyone. Ask for her number,” the OH whispered, “She seemed really nice, go on.”

A few more minutes passed of me getting cold feet before he basically forced me over to her.

Turns out, she lived about 30 minutes’ drive away and was just passing through our little town. She didn’t know any playgroups. What shit luck. She was indeed very nice but I didn’t ask for her number.

So this week, I thought I should bite the bullet and suss out the playgroups…

Apparently the Town Hall is where it’s at on Monday mornings. We had the usual fun-filled morning getting Little Miss dressed, her being exceptionally picky and pulling everything out of the drawer until she found what she wanted (snowman leggings today, FYI. Silly me…) then the regular wrestle with a jumper before the everyday coaxing and negotiation into a coat and finally, the buggy.

But we actually made it to playgroup bang on 10 and two youngish mums were both struggling with their buggies up the stairs when I arrived. They were friendly enough, showed me where to go and explained if you go round the back there’s an elevator, but they were being lazy… This friendly exchange from the off boded well.

While most of the other mums stood round the edges drinking tea, I had to sit with Little Miss wherever she was playing and not leave her side; she was quite shy with her new surroundings and was feeling tentative with no familiar little friends of her own to boost her confidence. (I knew how she felt.)

As we sat at the kitchen making tea and frying a green pepper for our “din dins”, a brunette lady and her son sat beside us.

Clearly this lady was much more adept at this whole Speed-Mumming charade than me (who isn’t). She was straight in with,

“My son loves making tea too.” And so it began. Less than a minute later she’d given me her name and asked mine as well when suddenly Little Miss had hold of my hand and we were off to another station. But I took heart that I’d made a good start.

At the slide, I got chatting to a blonde mum. Brunette Mum joined us a few minutes later and it turned out she too had recently moved here from London and knew no-one (perfect!) and Blonde Mum was from the same town as me originally, albeit we grew up about ten years apart. Things were going well when suddenly a little hand tugged me towards the play dough.

Blonde Mum joined me at the play dough and we talked about suitably mums-y topics before she suddenly had to dash off to collect her older one from nursery. No number exchange, but a very friendly good bye. Not quite a Speed-Mumming win, but not a crash and burn either.

As playgroup ended, Brunette Mum passed me in the hall en route to her buggy and said, “maybe see you next week?” And – I am very proud of myself for this next bit – I replied,

“actually, Little Miss is starting nursery next week so probably not. *pause* Do you want to exchange numbers though? We could meet for a coffee one day or something instead or playgroup?”

And we did!


I could have done a little victory dance on the spot I was so pleased with myself. But of course, I didn’t, because that would have been really weird and then she may never had replied to my text whenever I decide to send one.

Last year when I wrote about Speed-Mumming I spoke about how I had no experience of dating and basically no game whatsoever… Case and point…

So, about this next bit: The Text. How long should I wait? Do I text during today’s nap time? Or maybe waiting a day is more acceptable, don’t want to seem to keen – although let’s be honest shall we, I’m uber keen.

I’ll keep you posted…

(And in the meantime hope Brunette or Blonde Mum aren’t somehow randomly readers of my blog and weirded out by being written about on the internet by a total stranger and so avoid me ever more………..)


7 thoughts on “The Return of Speed-Mumming

  1. Tim says:

    Well done!

    For what it’s worth, I’m appalling at speed-mumming. My first instincts on the occasions when I took any of our kids to playgroup or other organised activities were invariably (1) to seek out overgrown pot plants to hide behind and (2) to check out where in the room I could get the best 3G signal so I could hide behind Twitter. If the locations of (1) and (2) coincided, so much the better. It’s amazing I ever find the courage to speak to anyone sometimes …

  2. Jo says:

    I was pretty good at Speed-Mumming – I hooked your mother! – However there is a fine line between hanging out a bit and casually asking for the number and the 3rd child syndrome where you have completely lost the plot and cut to the chase too quickly with a sub text I am needy – REALLY needy of adult company. Also the good turn can be misconstrued. In the USA a lady who lived just across the road and had a child in !1’s year had a post school child care gap. We met by chance, she told me her tale of woe and I said I would be happy for the kid to ride the bus with my #1 and come to my house for an hour for the 2 weeks there was an issue – AND I would do it for FREE! (She wanted to pay – I really did not want that) – She never spoke to me again. I heard on the grapevine that she thought I was weird for offering – The grapevine possibly agreed but I felt like a child “Groomer” of the worst sort.
    20 years on it is all water under the bridge.

  3. My Life As A Mummy says:

    I think I am quite good at speed mumming… I don’t do it intentionally, but I am one of those people who will talk to anyone and everyone. I don’t often arrange to meet up with them after, but I am always bumping into them in different places. I went down the park with my two a few days ago on our own and turns out I knew about 90% of the people there.

    Laura x x x

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