Things can get catty in the schoolyard – and we’re not talking about the kids.

You think you’re done and dusted with school once you graduate Year 12, right?

Wrong. The next time you pass through the school gates, with your offspring in hand, you’ll be right back at square one. You see, the school pick-up mums often have more cliques than the kids.

It can be like being on the film set of Mean Girls, where cliques included the Plastics (ultra A-list), the band geeks, the wannabes and the burnouts.

I chatted to some mums about the so-called ‘school pick-up’ cliques and they shared their experiences, as below…

  • “When waiting outside for your child, if you have no ‘friends’, there you stand forlornly with your toddler waiting behind your sunglasses for your school-aged kid to emerge from the classroom.”
  • “You end up dreading the pick-up and wait in the car pick-up zone and gesture to your child to hurry up and get in rather than mingling with the cliques!”
  • “There are those mothers who are present at every excursion and school assembly and on every committee and give working mums the guilt trip.”
  • “Certain groups have been together at playgroup, kindy and so forth, and are up to round three of a child going through school, so don’t have the time for newcomers.”
  • “You get little gangs of mothers who are still standing outside the school gates at 9.45am talking, when school started at 8.45am. They’re complaining about this and that instead of going inside and listening to their kids read.”

Then there are the schoolyard trends.

  • “If you don’t have full makeup and the latest trends on you feel inferior.”
  • “Gym gear for the slender yummy mummies is essential, so they can head off straight after school drop-off, but, of course, let everyone know about it first!”
  • “4WD and SUVs are a must.”
  • “Taking kids out of school for a family holiday during the school term is the norm, with cries of ‘Oh, we’re off to Bali, Phuket, Fiji or the snow, etcetera’.”
  • “At the children’s disco at the school hall recently, one group of parents decided they would sit outside, on the school grounds, with their red wine and cheese platters and get tipsy – the principal sent notes home to all involved, saying the behaviour wasn’t acceptable!”

Caught up yet? Yep, it can be a minefield. The best way to deal with it all? Rise above it, ignore the cliques and treat everyone the way you’d want to be treated. Hey, you’ll set a better example for your kids.


  • Phew….glad i avoided all that as my kids all caught the bus too and from school

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  • There are certainly a lot of SUVs at my daughters’ school but I’ve found that if you approach people with a smile (because that’s what makes people look standoffish – no smiling :) ), you can usually get to know them, at least enough to say hello the next time.

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  • Lol. What a laugh. It wasn’t like this at the school my kids went to, but then again maybe it’s because I will talk to anyone.

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  • Thanks for sharing this interesting article; made me smile as I have seen it; however; it does not bother me.

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  • i see this but it doesn’t bother me! i have my phone and use my waiting time to catch up on emails and i usually listen to music. even with headphones in, ladies will still try to chat and so i chat back and we talk about general stuff until the bell rings lol. i just be friendly to everyone though

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  • At some schools years reception and one, the children are kept in the classroom until a parent or other authorised person arrives to take them. Some out of school hours centres have the same policy.

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  • It’s just like high school, except with suv’s & poise liners

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  • yep, it’s an eye opener for sure!

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  • Worse so if your child happens to start mid term with friendship are firmly in place

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  • This is most certainly not true of all schools. Sounds like what you might find at private schools in wealthy suburbs, but it is a far cry from the lovely public school in our working class, multicultural suburb. Parents from all different backgrounds mingle, chat, help each other navigate the often confusing world of school drop offs, pick-ups, excursions, activities etc. There’s plenty of respect and mutual understanding between working mums and those not in paid employment. It’s a welcoming and inclusive community – as all schools should be.

    I know this article is partly joking, but I think it’s a shame there’s always so much reinforcement of divisions and competition between mums.


    • Interestingly enough I saw this all the time at the public school my eldest daughter started at but not nearly so much at the private school all three ended up at, not sure why.

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  • Lucky at my daughters school there doesn’t seem to be as many issues like this.

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  • My goodness , I thought you were writing my article, that’s exactly how I remember it. Thanks for the chuckle.

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  • Going into the school grounds can be daunting!

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  • A great informative read.Interesting.

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  • Yay, can’t wait for that next year

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