It’s a beautiful day - the sky is clear, the birds are singing, your kids are laughing as they run on the playground equipment - but you, mom at the park, are filled with dread. Your mouth is dry, your heart is racing...at the sight of the other park mommies with their cutie athletic wear and their nice strollers and their carefree smiles and laughter. You are filled, at the same moment, with dread and with hope - that maybe, just maybe, someone might talk to you. How does anyone make this magical moment happen? Like dating, but a million times worse, starting a conversation with another woman can feel like the fire of a thousand suns.
Girl, I feel you. What do you say? How do you say it? What do you do with your hands? What happens if your nervous laughter develops into maniacal cackling? Surely everyone will stare at you as they slowly back away to the monkey bars.
People tell me that I meet people easily, but it’s really just because I’ve developed a few tricks and one-liners, and I use them as shamelessly as a frat boy at a party. I never had a chance to date as an adult since I married my brother’s best friend from middle school, but I assume this is what I’d be like if I tried to meet men. I have a simple, two step formula for you to try - perfect for starting a conversation at the park.
Step 1: Bring chalk. A lot of chalk, preferably one of those giant 12 pack boxes. When your kids start to whine, or - even better - when another kid is whining near you, bust it out. “Would you guys like to play with some chalk?” When the other moms start to grab their kids hands and admonish them that “It’s not our chalk,” smile broadly and say, “Oh it’s ok! We brought enough to share.” Creativity invites community.
Step 2: The chalk acts as a common activity and an invitation to talk. If you’re feeling super awkward, you can even get down on the asphalt and start drawing with the kids. Make some smiles and eye contact with the moms, and then, try a simple question. People always like to talk about themselves, so think of something that comes naturally and feels comfortable for you. I like to ask, “Do you guys come to this park often?” or “Which kids are yours?” See how it feels, and grow confident that you didn’t burst into flame, and then ask some more questions. In my experience, no one is ever offended if you ask questions about them and their kids. As you chat, keep in mind that you don’t necessarily have to end with an exchange of phone numbers - you’re just looking for things you have in common and a chance to talk to an adult. When it’s time to go, I like to say, “By the way, I’m Kate. Maybe we’ll see you again here sometime!”
Try it! The worst that happens is that there’s an extra activity for your kids when they get suddenly bored of everything. And maybe some chalk dust on your pants.
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Ready to get outside your comfort zone and make friends on purpose??