Since my oldest daughter started primary school a little over two weeks ago, I have discovered a parenting world of which I previously had no clue existed.
It's nothing to do with after school clubs and homework (although I’m fairly sure it will somehow apply to both in time). Or even schoolyard politics. It is in fact the phenomenon of the WhatsApp group!
Anyone else come across this yet? It was all new to me.
From what I can gather, what once may have taken place while waiting with your child in the school playground now takes place via WhatsApp? So, discussions about what's happening in the classroom, party organisation and invitations, play-dates and school bus supervision rotas is all discussed, detailed and organised via WhatsApp.
Obviously this is very useful and, it has to be conceded, a very efficient way to include all parents, should they wish to be included. Given modern life and the fact that we don't all make it to the school yard some days or indeed, ever, I can't think of another way to make such arrangements.
But it does get a little confusing if you're part of more than one of these groups...particularly as a newbie to the school like I am, who doesn't have a face to put to most of the names I’m communicating with!
As my phone happily pings along to alert me to the various contributions to chats I’m part of it can feel a little like I’m snooping on conversations that weren't meant for me.
Sometimes I check my phone and discover there have been 22 responses in a chat about the bus timetable which I feel compelled to read over just in case I’m somehow required to respond too. But more often than not 21 of them are simply 'thanks', 'thanks' , 'thanks a million' and 'I’ll chat to you all tomorrow'. Just keeping up can be exhausting!
But this is the way we do things now, and it is an incredibly useful way to communicate, even if it can be a tiny bit absorbing sometimes.
Even as I've written this I heard the familiar 'ping'...another mammy who I've never even met, reassuring me via the medium of whatsapp that my little girl skipped safely to the bus today, holding hands with her new friends. How great is that?
I'm getting into the swing of it slowly myself and already I wouldn't dream of heading for a visit to the playground without out alerting my 'kids playdate' WhatsApp group to see if anyone else fancies heading there too...even though I have never laid eyes on some of the parents I’m inviting! Sometimes I wonder if wearing a pink carnation might not be a good idea....
Soon my child's class teacher will have her WhatsApp group set up and will communicate directly with us parents via it too. I think this is going to be a much more efficient way of getting messages home than notes in the school bag. I just hope she won't be doing parent-teacher meetings that way too!
What do you think, mums? A step too far or a realistic and relevant way of communicating?