It’s easier to face the challenges of motherhood when you have a community behind you. Even if you love the girlfriends you already have, you’ll probably want to extend your circle to include more parents once you start spending more time changing diapers and pushing a stroller.

On the other hand, making new friends can feel as awkward as dating, and you’re already pressed for time and energy when you’re caring for young children.

Use these tips to make connecting with mom friends more productive and less stressful.

How to Meet Mom Friends:

  1. Start early. Once you bring your baby home from the hospital, you’re likely to be short on free time. Get a headstart on making mom friends by reaching out  while you’re expecting. Introduce yourself to other patients in your obstetrician’s waiting room and chat with other customers at baby boutiques.
  2. Think local. Focus on finding friends who live nearby so you can maintain regular contact. Research the places in your neighborhood where parents hang out.
  3. Spread the word. Let your family, friends, and coworkers know that you want to meet other parents. They may know a couple with a child the same age as yours.
  4. Go online. Try out the growing number of apps designed for bringing mom friends together. Many of them are free. You could also browse for local chapters of parenting groups like La Leche League or Stroller Strides.
  5. Visit the playground. Traditional approaches still work too. Pick a time of day when your child tends to be calm, and head out to play on the swings and slides. Bring interesting toys along to encourage other children and parents to come to you.
  6. Work out. New mothers often flock to gyms and exercise studios. Sign up for prenatal classes and return for Mommy and Me yoga sessions.

How to Make Mom Friends:Secret to Making Mom Friends

  1. Take initiative. Have the courage to make the first move if you see another mother who seems compatible. She’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness if she’s trying to make new friends too.
  2. Become a regular. Increase your odds of making a lasting connection by frequenting the same spots at the same time of day. Maybe you’ll want to visit a popular coffee shop right after the morning rush each weekday.
  3. Schedule a playdate. When you hit it off with another mother, exchange contact information and suggest a play date. That way, you’ll have an hour or two to get to know each other better.
  4. Arrange solo time. If you’re craving adult conversation, set aside some quiet time to engage. Have a chat over a cup of coffee while your children nap. Go for a walk together while your children lie quietly in their strollers.
  5. Be flexible. Your mom friends may be different from the friends you chose when you were single. While it’s fun to discover you have plenty of common ground, you may just appreciate having someone around to provide companionship during the work week or share leads for day care centers and children’s movies.
  6. Resist comparisons. Parents sometimes feel pressured to look flawless, and social media can add to the strain. Remember that the most fulfilling friendships are those where you can relax and be authentic. Enjoy being yourself instead of trying to keep up with an unrealistic standard.
  7. Find a mentor. You might find it especially valuable to touch base with parents who have more experience or demonstrate a parenting style that you admire. You can learn a lot from such real life examples.

Take the anxiety out of making new mom friends. As you build your community, you’ll benefit from having greater validation and support, and you’ll be helping other mothers to enjoy the same advantages. Most importantly, you’ll prepare yourself to parent more effectively.